Continuing our coverage from a recent THQ junket in Sydney that started with the super-impressive-looking Company of Heroes 2 and followed on with the equally notable Darksiders II, we now present to you South Park: The Stick of Truth. THQ was smart to leave this game until last as it left the best impression: a lot of big laughs, albeit with quite a few moments that made you feel like you needed to take a bath for daring to hoot.
Unfortunately, there was no hands-on time with South Park: The Stick of Truth. I say “unfortunately” because the hands-off play-through of a couple of sections of the game was hilarious and often had the crowd in hysterics. For those unaware, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker haven’t just given their blessing for this game, they’ve also done the writing and voice work. After all, what kind of South Park game would it be without a lot of their involvement?
Interestingly, in the first time in South Park history, they’ve actually mapped out the town that you will explore in the cardboard cut-out boots of “New Kid”. This is particularly important in this quirky RPG because you’ll be fighting your way through a South Park that’s embroiled in a town-wide role-playing battle.
The fan LOLs start right from the word go with the voiceless chattering heads of Terrance and Phillip doing their thing in the corner of the loading screen. We got to see the first level of the game that involves New Kid getting kicked out of his house because his parents want to “wrestle” (their words); in fact, New Kid’s attempt at getting back inside the locked front door is met by a shirtless dad screaming at him from the bedroom window. Classic.
Walking down the street, New Kid attempts to interact with a group of role-playing kids who blatantly state that if they continue to ignore him, he’ll go away. A little bit further down the road, New Kid runs into Butters the Merciful who insists that he has to meet The Wizard King. As it turns out, The Wizard King is none other than crowd-favourite Cartman who had some of the best lines of the presentation.
Exploring the camp of The Wizard King, New Kid discovers the Rock of Insanity and the Pool of Visions; both of which included associated laugh-out-loud moments or lines for interacting with them. When it comes time for New Kid to select a class and name, Cartman queries whatever name choice that is entered with, “Your name is ‘Douchebag’, is that correct?”
Not long after the crowd’s laughter had settled, the camp is under attack and it was time to showcase the combat. I’m not the biggest fan of turn-based combat, but South Park’s take on more traditional RPG turn-based combat was both funny and engaging. The moves and weapon names are funny enough, but their execution also makes for plenty of laughs. Better still, there is an apparent real-time allowance for power attacks and counters that wasn’t fully explained, but is set to add a spin to the more traditional turn-based tact.
The demo then cut to further into the game, just before a higher-level New Kid and co assaulted a castle filled with “Vampire Kids”. New Kid went through the many funny-named items of his inventory which showcased a variety of weapons (such as the so-called ‘Fucking Ninja Stars’), powers and kit from which to choose.
Combat this time around was a more layered affair, with the player switching between New Kid and Cartman to assault the group of seemingly hapless vampire kids. New Kid unleashed the fairly tame named Dragon’s Breath fireworks attack, which Cartman followed up with a more (in)appropriate charged-up fart attack. When the Rochambeau power was unleashed with nut-cracking efficiency, the crowd burst into laughter, but the ensuing Mr. Slave power attack had us in hysterics; even if we all felt slightly wrong for laughing at the hip-thrusting antics of this devastating finisher.
The hands-off demo finished with the awesome E3 trailer that you can check out at the bottom of this preview. Alas, the only thing worse than not being able to have hands-on time with The Stick of Truth is the wait before its official release. South Park: The Stick of Truth isn’t slated to hit until March 2013, and I can’t wait to see more.