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Plot driven 'Stick of Truth' has substandard gameplay

By Zachary Lederman
On April 1, 2014

I bet you're wondering how exactly I'm going to connect "South Park: The Stick of Truth" to 2007's "Bioshock." The first is a cartoony, paper-style animated RPG about anal probes, fart jokes and kids beating each other up, while the other is a graphically beautiful first-person shooter about the nature of man, but my initial point stands. What do these two vastly different games have in common that puts them, to me, closer than "Bioshock 2" was to its predecessor?
The answer is in their plots. Both games are driven by their plots and environments, as opposed to driven by gameplay. Say what you want about "Bioshock" (which is one of the best games ever made in my opinion), but the gameplay was nothing revolutionary. The game received such high praise because it created a deep and compelling story, set in a beautiful environment, located in a world that caused the player to question their own views on humanity. Just to clarify my earlier statement, "Bioshock 2" had very interesting combat, but a very bland plot.
South Park may not have the deep and compelling world aspect down, but is instead quite humor driven. Like "Bioshock," the game doesn't rely on overly complex or intricate gameplay, and I think that's why I've enjoyed it so much. The gameplay is, like "Bioshock"'s not really that interesting to be honest. It consists of standard RPG mechanics, with little more than average user input. It really gets repetitive after a while.
However, despite the subpar gameplay, the game is absolutely one of the most fun experiences I've had in a while. Call me immature, but every fart-joke and silly moment in the game had me in stitches. And why is that? Because unlike other "South Park" spinoffs, Matt and Trey, the show's creators and writers, served as the game's writers as well, and boy, does it show. In fact, I hesitate to really call "TSOT" a game. It's more like an interactive episode of classic "South Park." It's a 12-hour tribute to the show's most loyal fans, filled with inside jokes from seasons past in the form of items and objects from the show's history (I was particularly fond of picking up the "Sword of Truth" from season 10's "Make Love, Not Warcraft").
The game features an extremely varied character customization feature, including hundreds of different hairstyles, pieces of clothing, accessories and objects, all of which can be dyed with dozens of different colors, allowing for literally millions of player character variations. Being that I really like to make sure my character in a game represents me, I was quite fond of this.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how I feel, in the end, paying $60 to watch what is effectively a 12-hour episode. Unlike Bioshock, which was still a game you had to experience personally to get the full effect, I probably could have just watched all of "TSOT" on YouTube or some other streaming site and ended with the same experience. I think a $40 price tag would have been absolutely sufficient.
But, for all of its flaws, "South Park: The Stick of Truth," was a comical "South Park" experience, and that's really all I expected, or could have asked for.
 


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