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- South Park: The Stick of Truth
I'm already calling it Game of the Year for 2013.
South Park: Stick of Truth is everything you would expect from show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker—a lot of humor, a lot of cleverness, and a lot of moments of feeling highly offended. I walked out of this preview feeling both horrified and amazed. I'm fairly certain that is what the creators have always gone for with the show, so kudos to them for bringing it over to the gaming side with just as much finesse.
Stick of Truth is about the largest LARPing (live action role play) session you have ever seen. The player takes on the role of the new kid in town and is forced to go make new friends while his/her parents go "wrestle" in the new house. If the new kid tries to go into the house, the father appears in the upstairs window, obviously naked, and yells, "I TOLD YOU TO GO MAKE FRIENDS!" just before slamming down the window. Yep, you're definitely in South Park.
As the new kid wanders down the streets—he obviously has nothing better to do now—he's instantly pulled into this giant LARPing session with all the kids of South Park. The LARPing session is laid out exactly how you would find a typical fantasy RPG, in that as the new kid wanders down the street, he encounters just about what an unborn hero in a fantasy RPG would run into:
- Groups of kids talking that he can't talk to, just listen to;
- Kids trying to sell homemade armor and weapons; and,
- Butters offering to take him to meet the Grand Wizard.
For the record, it's amazing how normal all these things sound and feel when playing a fantasy RPG and how ridiculous it all sounds and feels when you see it as a LARP session.
The fourth graders are led by the Grand Wizard Cartman, and their job is to protect the Stick of Truth from coming into the clutches of the older kids playing the elves, the Goth kids playing the vampires, and various other groups of kids that we were not shown at this time. However, if these other groups of enemies are half as creatively imagined as the vampires, it will be brilliant. Of course, regardless of their stalwart efforts, their camp is attacked and the Stick of Truth is taken before the new kid can take on his first quest—bring the Grand Wizard some kung pao chicken.
The new kid can take on the role of a Cleric, Mage, Fighter, or Thief. All combat is done in turn-based style, but combat requires players to deploy their attacks and spells very strategically. For example, it's best to save the largest attacks until the very end, as these can finish off large groups of enemies who are well on their way to death. If you use them early on, you'll take out a chunk of health, but the healers will repair any damage you've made. In addition, you can only use your largest attacks once, so they must be used wisely.
As this is a giant LARP session, all armor and weaponry are homemade. Some armor is literally made out of aluminum foil. The interesting Rod of Waste is in fact a toilet plunger. The mage's Dragon's Breath attack is a Roman candle. You get the idea.
As with any South Park episode, Stick of Truth is most definitely not for the easily offended. Matt and Trey attack anyone and everyone at any slightest opening. For example, Kyle is told he can't be the savior of the game because it's been proven that Jews can't be saviors.
One of the largest finishing moves is called "Wrecked 'em" (go on ahead and say it out loud, in order to get the full effect of the horror it unleashes), which summons Mr. Slave in all his naked glory to do unspeakable things to the enemy. His finisher is a QTE, no less, requiring players to push the A or X button as fast as you can to, and I quote, "get it in there". In other words, the game nails down everything South Park stands for perfectly.
South Park: Stick of Truth releases March 5, 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.