‘South Park’ Adaptation Stays True to Source Content, Challenges Decency

“South Park: The Stick of Truth” is not a game for anyone who finds the television show offensive. The game brings together a greatest hits of the most controversial parts of the show and wraps them around a great role playing system.

The game’s plot revolves around the player character, the “new kid,” playing a medieval sword and sorcery game with the “South Park” television show cast.

As the player character progresses, a conspiracy develops involving aliens, the United States government and Taco Bell. Throughout most of “The Stick of Truth,” every child in “South Park” takes part in the city-wide game. When players win fights against the enemy factions, the vanquished foes lay on the ground and act dead, indicating everyone involved in the plot is part of children’s game.

The gameplay is a basic, streamlined role playing system. The game-within-a-game the children play is based on the “South Park” episode “Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers,” which in turn is based loosely on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The game also takes some inspiration from the “Black Friday” episode trilogy, which
made light of the game’s delayed release date.

Classes are fairly similar, with a few differing abilities that can change the gameplay experience in mostly minor ways. The characters’ weapons, armor and abilities are humorously based on things the kids have fashioned into equipment from around the house. One ability from the warrior class involves the player character using a football helmet to ram his opponent. Most fights don’t last long and the game isn’t terribly hard, but the constant humor keeps the game fun and entertaining. Because the focus is on player enjoyment and not on a complex, difficult-to-understand role playing system that requires spending hours leveling up to progress, the game moves at a pace more conducive to a humorous plot.

The game is hilarious. From beginning to end, the game was obviously developed with care and attention to detail. The developers, Obsidian Entertainment, possibly most famous for developing “Fallout: New Vegas,” carefully made every aspect of the game feel like it is in the world of the show, from the large number of extensive poop jokes, to the items found throughout the game.

As in “Fallout: New Vegas,” the atmosphere is key to the game’s success in feeling like its source material. As the player walks around South Park, a musical score similar to that of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and sung mainly by show character Cartman plays. Any time a radio is within earshot, one of many original songs featured in “South Park” episodes plays.

While the game is a fantastic addition to the role playing genre, the game may be too obscene for some. Swear words are plentiful, though this is not something the series has ever avoided. Gratuitous violence, extensive, graphic nudity and several scenes featuring bizarre sex acts are also in the game. Several segments of the game were heavily censored in nearly every other country in which the game was released, including the European, Australian, Asian and Middle Eastern releases of the game. Nearly every gratuitous moment in the game is a major plot point, so there is no getting around the adult content in the game.

Show fans or video game enthusiasts who want to try something fresh and funny should check out “South Park: The Stick of Truth.” However, the game’s creators intended the game, much like the show, to push boundaries and standards of decency to the brink, which limits its mass appeal.

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