South Park: The Stick of Truth Previews

It's been a while since we last heard news of South Park: The Stick of Truth, and even then it was just news on the business side as the game went from the hands of bankrupt publisher THQ to those of Ubisoft. The silence seems to be over though, and we're finally getting some concrete news.

Not only a bevy of previews for the title has been released today by various gaming publications, but the game is gonna be at Ubisoft's E3 conference, which hopefully means we'll be getting a release date. For now, though, you can read what the press thought of the latest showing of the game in our round-up.

GameInformer's preview shows what you get when combine Obsidian's choice and consequences with.. well, South Park:
Creativity helps in combat, but it's also necessary for navigating the school's dangerous hallways. Butters and New Kid encounter an enemy kid standing on a huge rubbish blockade. Normally, New Kid could use his powerful fart ability to knock him from the hill, but a strategically placed fan makes this difficult. Players have a few options in this dilemma. They can either trigger a sprinkler above the fan to short it out, or use an anal probe satellite to teleport into the vents above. Once within, Butters and New Kid harness the power of the Underpants Gnomes to shrink themselves and navigate the narrow ventilation shaft. These multi-path situations look like entertaining breaks from the otherwise straightforward combat.


The presentation concludes with a standoff between Kyle and Cartman. New Kid must choose a side, and the dev at the controls chooses to fight Cartman. New Kid's opening strike is to throw a piece of poop at Cartman (which was acquired earlier after defecating in a urinal). The fight concludes with a spectacular fart duel between the two, which plays out like two Dragon Ball Z characters blasting each other.

South Park: The Stick of Truth features your typical slate of role-playing game features: loot in the world including new gear that changes the way your player looks, the ability to make decisions to craft your players story, and more. Each of these elements, however, is decidedly injected into the ideals of the South Park series. For example, since your character's ability is based on baking brownies, eating burritos is the obvious way to refill your mana meter.

Despite its focus on devastating butt thunder, South Park: The Stick of Truth has its charming moments. In one scene during the hands-off demo, Butters was ordered to heal the protagonist during a battle in the hallway of South Park Elementary. Butters' magic healing ability consisted of walking to the player character, giving him a pat on the back and promising, "I got your back bro." I burst out laughing.

The entire demo was set in the elementary, and you will have to navigate through the school to reach the Stick's location. There's an all-out war going on, with lots of obstacles that you'll need to get through. A number of rooms for example have obstructions blocking your path; an easy challenge for the New Kid, renowned for his magical abilities. You can use your slingshot to shoot down lighting that will in turn knock out kids. Or you can shrink yourself down in size and make your way through ventilation shafts to get around blocked routes. An alien probe that bursts out of your ass can also teleport you up to specific hard-to-reach areas.

Your biggest magical ability is your farting skills. At any time, you can press and hold the appropriate button to fart into your cupped hands and toss out fart balls. Or you can just let out blasts of farts when the situation requires it. This particular attack is also called the "Dragon Shout" attack, and yes the New Kid is also called the Dragonborn. Yup, no shame.

Official Xbox Magazine:
Cartman's kingdom is run out of his backyard, the (elves) are actually kids with fake ears, and being a Dragonborn just means the New Kid is really, really gassy. Nearly all of the (magic) in this goofy RPG are practical objects used to make their L.A.R.P. feel more epic: casting a lightning spell means tossing water on your enemies and zapping them with a car battery, and mana potions are just burritos and other flatulence-inducing foods. There are some supernatural forces involved, though the Underpants Gnome's magic allows the New Kid to change size, and Alien Probe technology lets him teleport around. There's also the matter of Clyde Donovan, Cartman's former ally who has since decided to try his hand at necromancy, resurrecting dead animals with weird green goop (that he found in a barrel) in order to create his own army.

And going places others can't reach is pretty much what South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done for the last 16 years. That's one quality they definitely brought to The Stick of Truth by both writing and voicing the game for developer Obsidian Entertainment. For its part, Obsidian the studio founded by the team behind seminal role-playing games such as Fallout and Planescape: Torment brought the genuine South Park to a video-game format for the first time ever. The most amazing thing about The Stick of Truth, hands-down, is how anyone watching others play will easily mistake it for a normal episode of South Park. The characters and their simple animations look exactly like they do on television. It's an exact translation.

That includes a nice dose of social commentary. South Park serves as one seriously biting satire, after all, even if it presents the message in a purposely offensive, highly juvenile manner. The New Kid can make friends with other kids to increase his power, and he's the only one who can bring factions like Girls and Goths together in a common cause. And yes, he does see the light and turn on Cartman, who takes it about as well as you'd expect.

Magical abilities carry grand names and DIY executions. A Lightning Volt, for example, will see one of the South Park kids dump a bucket of water on a foe, then drop a car battery with exposed wiring into the resulting puddle. Healing Touch is simply a tap on the back and a reassuring "Yeah, that's it little buddy," from Cartman. A Funnel of Frost is a fire extinguisher and Hammer of Justice... a hammer.

Spellcasters in South Park can also unleash streams of fireworks, flaming flatulence and undead cats revived by the power of toxic waste at their foes.

Some of those spells play out more dramatically and more punishingly depending on the timing of a button press within a certain window. The action is reminiscent of the timing-based flourishes applied in games like Nintendo's Mario & Luigi RPG series or the active reload actions of Gears of War.