Will they ever stop making these terrible South Park games?
Acclaim has done it once again with the latest installment in their South
Park series. Every time, it seems like they have taken the essential elements
of the South Park show, thrown them into a meat grinder, scooped up random sound
bytes and crude jokes and then fitted them into whatever game they happen to
be making. So far, we’ve seen a wretched
shooter, a lame attempt at a quiz
game, and now a Mario-Kart rip-off. This one seems to be thought out a bit
more thoroughly than the rest, yet it plays like the worst.
theory, this should have been a pretty good game. Instead of following standard
kart-racing formula, the developers actually tried to speed ahead the pack.
South Park Rally actually has two different types of play. The first contest
is actually a kart rally. You chase each other around the city and make it to
four checkpoints in sequence to make informal “laps.” However the next three
contests are not the formal “races” we see in other cart games. Instead, they
are variations on collect and drop-off games. In theory, this seems like a great
idea, but most of the non-rally contests are very similar.
More importantly than the race setup, it looks as if the design team took
a lot of time to recreate just about all of the characters from the best episodes.
There are actually thirty-five different characters, and when I say different,
I mean it. And each one comes with their own custom cars, weapons, shouts, screams
and ughs, all in sync with the character from the show.
Moreover, the humor of the developers is also apparent in their attention
to detail in car and weapons design. Jesus rides on his heavenly cloud and Chef
drives a miniature version of his signature green luv-wagon. The weapons take
that extra South Park step towards gross with powers that range from the innocuous
Cheesy Poofs to flying Dildos. Not to mention Chef’s special Chocolate Salty
Balls, a prostitute with aggressive Herpes, and of course it wouldn’t be a South
Park game without the Anal Probes.
The characters themselves are nice 3D translations of their 2D counterparts,
and the environments that they drive through are pretty large. There aren’t
too many areas that the game forbids you to drive in, allowing you to make some
of your own shortcuts. Some of the levels even go beyond the call of duty by
delivering some interesting areas like the twisted Sewer track, and the unholy
yet somehow wholesome Farm.
However, all of these fine, and humorous points are completely forgotten
when you pick up that controller and attempt to actually race the damn thing.
The controls can be a bit better, with a lot of practice, using a gamepad, but
are next to impossible on a keyboard. The actual gameplay is also nearly impossible
at the outset. The main problem comes in the impossibly confusing goal structure.
rallies are a complete mess. When you begin the race, South Park’s mayor attempts
to explain the rules, but all you are left with at the start is an unhelpful
map and a guiding arrow that only pops up when you are already on top of your
intended target. The arrow seems to bestow its power on you only when it wants,
and then leaves you to flounder and squint at the map in hopes of chasing down
the next checkpoint.
And the competition? Pure, unadulterated, computerized evil. Everyone but
you knows exactly where to go and what to do. You meander through the course,
praying for a sign from god, and finally you throw your controller to the floor
as you slip over someone’s Explosive Diarrhea. Even if you somehow manage to
pull off a perfect race, one unhindered by any Herpes or Underwear Gnomes or
flying Dildos, you still find yourself pulling off a last place finish.
The only thing to do is to memorize all the maps. Once you’ve done this,
they get old quickly and the game is left with a confusing multiplayer mode.
Multiplayer consists only of variations of pick up and drop off type games,
and really aren’t all that fun. Finally we are left with no replay value and
no real salvation.
Despite the smart initial designs and artistic flair of South Park Rally,
what they forgot was the fun, and the game suffers for it. The joy of hearing
Cartman say “here is something for your ass,” or of seeing the the cloud of
green gas that accompanies a turbo Fart only lasts for an hour or so before
you’re left admiring the fact that the computer keeps crashing every time you
change menu options. Then you become frustrated horrendous slowdown that pops
up at random times. And besides, who really wants to keep getting stomped on
by the computer’s unlimited supply of items and perfect accuracy.
If I were you, I wouldn’t even bother. Yes, there is South Park’s special
brand of disturbingly funny humor built into the game, but that means the fun
only lasts for about as long as an episode of the show. Without those cool South
Park characters, this game would have never made it to a store shelf anywhere.