The Stick of Truth is finally here! Granted I, like many people I know, have kind of faded out on South Park in the last few years. Maybe binge watching the latest 10-20 episodes when I’m bored then moving on, but damned if the puerile and immature show didn’t make a huge splash on this little one’s upbringing.
It gave new meaning to crass, and established a platform from which the worst stereotypes could be brought out to play in a way which would often leave me with my jaw on the floor, but never in doubt about the positive underlying messages contained within.
So it’s about time we finally got our hands on South Park: The Stick of Truth. There’s been that rally game, there was the FPS (which was actually a lot of fun multiplayer on PC back in the day), but no one has effectively married South Park to a genre which would really allow its trademark narrative to shine through (RPG) and given it the budget it needs to actually come together.
Having played through the first 4-5 hours of the game, it certainly is exactly what you’d expect, which, if you’re anything like me, is of great relief.
But you’d be forgiven for asking with the extreme impudence that only a gamer can muster: ‘What the f#$k took so long, assholes?’
The game was first announced in late 2011 by THQ with Obsidian at the helm. Obsidian have found great fortune in the RPG genre, and considering the South Park team approached them directly (no publishers were yet involved), it seemed like enthusiasm for the project was strong on both sides – a match made in heaven.
It’d take only six months before the first bit of grim news, long before the hype train had properly started to take root, with Obsidian having to lay off “20-30” staff while cancelling a next-gen project. It likely had nothing to do with South Park, but some of those laid off were working on the Stick of Truth, so one way or another the project did end up getting the short end of the stick (BAD Leigh! No DONUT!)
It more realistically had to do with the poor sales of Dungeon Siege III, which was no small project and Obsidian bet big on it.
Still, flash forward to E3 2012 and the game was given its first trailer on the Microsoft stage, alongside a Kinect announcement, DLC rollout plans and the announcement of one DLC being 360 exclusive. To their eternal credit, a painfully orchestrated and scripted event was rendered joyous and irreverent for a brief moment when Trey Parker and Matt Stone took the stage.
From where I was sitting, I could see the teleprompters. It was just delightful when they took the stage and the teleprompters went totally blank. That open dig at Microsoft they made when they first jumped on? Totally off the cuff. Bless ‘em.
For the rest of 2012, THQ would find itself being repeatedly beaten by the financial papers. Its future was looking grim and cut-backs were being made left, right and centre. In November of that year, it announced delays of all its key titles, South Park included, pushing it back to April 2013.
It then files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and other publishers swoop in to pick up IPs at cheap rates. South Park goes to Ubisoft, and all is well in the jungle… that is until Ubisoft doesn’t bother to put South Park on its release schedule.
On May 3, 2013, a Ubisoft spokesperson clarifies that it will hit in December 2013. Panic attacks are allayed and heart rates drop.
In October, Ubisoft announces it has been delayed again to March 2014.
So here we are at the back end of a messy saga. Normally, repeated six month delays without a game being officially sent back to the drawing board are a horrible sign. But it really is an enjoyable game and does exactly what it sets out to achieve!
Well, sort of. There’s the issue of censorship, but that’s not really a quality concern.
In any case, here’s the wrap:
Seven scenes were censored in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the game’s release date has been pushed back again in Germany and Austria (due to something which, when the lines are read between, sounds like a swastika or two), and in little ol’ Australia we’ve had three minigames dropped by them fine folks at the Australian Classification Board, to be replaced with a sobbing koala (you can watch the missing content here.
March 6 2014
South Park: The Stick of Truth is released in Australia to a raving reception.