Game Review – South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014)

July 13, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s tough being the New Kid, moving to a quiet little mountain town under the shroud of some mysterious past, then stepping out into unexplored territory with nary a friend on my Facebook page. There I was, just an unassuming Jersey boy, a name the only possession to call my own; then I met Eric Cartman, Grand Wizard of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. After that I would forever be known as DoucheBag.

My task was set: fit in and become cool. Except upon awakening on my first day in South Park I dropped a deuce in the bathroom, and for whatever reason that turd went in my Inventory. I’ve not a clue why I did that. Poop, meet pocket—just naturally happened. Realizing this would make a shitty first impression, I hid the log in my toy box. There it remained, until I discovered that throwing Shit Nuggets at enemies is a great way to inflict Grossed Out Debuffs.

Not only that, strapping add-ons like butane torches or ginger pubes to my weapons made them greatly proficient at beating the ever unholy living dog piss out of other children. After getting caught up in the boys’ game of Humans versus Elves and the sacred Stick of Truth that perpetuates their war, I found fighting to be necessary for day-to-day survival. Combat was smooth, fluid and easy to learn, and not just because I happened to be a Fighter. I could have been a Mage, Thief or Jew and still leveled my way toward kicking ass.

Yes, South Park is hell, even with the ability to summon Jesus or drop Mr. Slave’s asshole onto my enemies. It’s also beautiful, its overall aesthetic faithful to its parent property’s cheap cutout animation style. The open world is expansive, with a certain Kingdom of the North also available near the end. In a place where everyone needs a sidequest or three completed and bosses need to be clubbed into burning, bleeding, puking messes, it doesn’t take long for DoucheBags to hit their level caps of 15 and in turn, become ridiculously overpowered. But in the beginning, as I learned the hard way, a New Kid cannot walk alone.

One of the implemented safety ordinances is a Buddy system. You’re allowed to travel with one Buddy at a given time, but with the right strategies and item spams they’re more than enough to send anybody running and crying. There’s Butters, whose outward meekness betrays his impressive Paladin badassery on the battlefield; Stan, whose swordsmanship made him my second best choice for the road; Jimmy, a Bard who harbors knowledge of the devastating Brown Noise but otherwise is kinda meh; Princess Kenny, (s)he of firing heart bolts, returning to life a few rounds after death and flashing her royal breasts; Elven Jew Kyle, who can control nature and deal out Kosher damage with his golf club; and finally, the Wizard Cartman, who not only blows in terms of being lame but also literally blows fiery devastation out of his magical ass.

South Park is a microcosm for our brain damaged Americana and pop culture. I also hear that my whole predicament is a result of some guys named Matt Stone and Trey Parker playing on video game tropes and cliches. Everything about our favorite hobby is represented here, from the Damsel in Distress to Nazi Zombies to quick time events to old school parodying to my choice of remaining silent, which tends to confuse and annoy the local NPCs; I have my reasons. Although South Park may seem weird and scary for unsuspecting folk, it should remind most adults of childhoods past. The boys beat each other up, the girls hold committee hearings to decide which two-faced lying bitch should be destroyed that day, and the Stick of Truth’s importance is second only to the threat of being grounded.

It’s not all rainbow skies and rivers made of chocolate, though. There are some problems that present themselves. First is the notably short play time. My trials and tribulations as the New Kid clocked out around 22 hours, but those who don’t obsess over every sidequest and Chinpokomon may have even shorter experiences. Whether this justifies the $ 60 price tag is up to one’s discretion. Personally I think $ 60 is a bit steep at this point in The Stick of Truth’s shelf life, but then again, it’s like paying for an awesome anthology box set. For what you get, it’s a negotiable deal.

Then there’s the issue of political correctness, which these Matt and Trey fellows have made sure to gloriously steamroll over before blanketing it in a layer of shit. Like the show, nothing is sacred and everyone and everything gets picked on. There’s something to offend either side of the political spectrum. On the Left we have a sampler of racism, Klan and Nazi references, and stuff to open all sorts of human rights cans. For our Right leaning friends there’s blatant nudity, jabs at Jesus, Mr. Slave’s ass play antics and an abortion clinic throw down where the end boss is too massive a shocker to spoil.

A good deal of the humor relies on shock value, and the satire doesn’t provoke much thought. While I don’t normally go for this type of low-brow stuff, South Park: The Stick of Truth had me giggling and laughing like a hyperactive 14-year-old, and in the end I suppose that’s all that matters. If one can partition off their adult ‘mature’ side and check their sensibilities at the door, they, too may find themselves influenced by that familiar South Park charm.

Final Grade: 72/100 (B)

Great Games – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993/1998)

June 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Spoilers follow. 

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening proved once more that the Gameboy and its Color successor were little engines that could. Sega may have been able to boast that its Gamegear had full color and backlighting, but Awakening had the advantage of overcoming any technological limitations with not only a rich world but also a grave sense of moral ambiguity. Read more…

I’m an Android ‘Fanboy’ (I guess.)

June 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Fanboyism pisses me off.

It’s fine to be fan of something; it gets annoying when people viciously attack anyone who disagrees with them, favors the competition, or applies criticism, constructive or otherwise, to whatever. Read more…

Cyrus.

January 24, 2014 1 comment

Celebrity commentary has never been my Thing. True, pop culture annoys me to where I feel pains in my marrow, but my policy has always been to leave our stars and idols to the checkout line scribes. Read more…

A New Year, A New Approach

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolutions are, at best, hollow lies. A better way to describe them would be as cheap novelty items that are obtained and quickly thrown away, or empty promises that double as gentle ribbing. “I’m going to lose weight!” says the 40-something family man. Spoiler: he doesn’t. “I’m going to stop watching porn!” beams an ambitious boyfriend, conveniently in front of the girlfriend who resents the DVDs she feels have  replaced her. One month into his non-fuckfilm celibacy, the boyfriend is sneaking into his computer room late at night. “Hey, it’s just every now and then,” he assures himself. Read more…

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