South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

After playing South Park: The Stick of Truth for around 10 hours now, I think it is time I review this game. No, I haven’t finished the entire game, but I have played enough to know how it feels, and what to expect going into the future.  I don’t want to have to rush through this game or bypass some great hidden items or dialogue due to my want to crank out a review, so I am going to review what I’ve seen so far – both the good and the not so good.

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The first thing I wanted to mention is that the game has a lot of fun items and references that make me want to go back and re-watch some of the older episodes of South Park.  Being a fan of the series, I am finding a lot of items, characters, and conversations in the game that remind me of some great South Park moments.  I feel special because I get the reference, even if others watching me play the game do not.  There are also me references specific to this game, namely satire that picks on the elements of other video games.  On one quest while exploring the alien space ship, there are audio logs to be found in the different rooms, and the recordings are just golden.

The story itself seems pretty simple and linear.  I always know where I are supposed to go next and who I need to talk to.  I was surprised on how quickly the game let me explore the town and start some side quests, however there are certain parts that are blocked off to kept me from doing too much or exploring areas outside of the main scenario until later on.  There is a fast travel system to utilize, which is great once you’ve been somewhere and opened all the boxes and looted all the drawers.  There isn’t a reason to go back and explore a second time, as everything remains opened and empty after doing so once.

As far as the looting goes, there is not a large variety of “useful” items in the game.  As far as gear/weapons are concerned, it seems like the options are limited.  There is only one best set of gear or weapon to use at a time, where everything else is either too high of a level to equip or too low of a level to be of any help.  The weapons can be customized with “stickers” and “patches” to give them bonuses in combat, but again the base item is the limiting factor.  For example, I really liked having the billy club I unlocked during the mission to recruit Token.  I wanted the town to “respect my authority,” but by the time I found that weapon there was already a better weapon that did twice the damage, so I had to leave the billy club off.

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Some of the items I’ve found in-game are useful (such as health and mana potions) but a majority of the things I found are junk.  In fact there are are quite a few “junk” items that serve as nothing more than show references that you’ll find often.  It is fun for a while, but after finding “The Poop who Took a Pee” for the 20th time, the novelty of looking for items wears off.  I also found that there are many items in the game that look like they would be fun to use in crafting recipes, but they serve no purpose other than to sell for money.  It would have been nice if the game included a “crafting” system so I could use some of these objects like a “broken sword hilt” or a “cardboard tube” or “scissors and glue” to make some unique gear.

The dialogue and story in the game is hilarious and the game very rarely feels like a chore.  The situations I have to go through as the player are sometimes predictable, but the game tries really hard to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.  Yes there is a quest where I have to unlock one door to get the brass key to access the silver key to get the gold key to unlock the door to the cafeteria to rescue Clyde from detention, and in any other game that would mean a chore of wave after wave of obligatory enemy while working up to a boss.  And yes, that is what I had to do in The Stick of Truth.  But the thing is, I don’t mind.  The battles are fun in that I am always wanting to fight some more enemies to hone my skills, and the further I am in the mission, the more fun and unpredictable the story gets.  I don’t know what to expect around the next corner, but I know it is going to be worth it, because it is South Park.

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To me, the most annoying part of the game is where it tries to squeeze elements into the game that really shouldn’t be there.  I speak of course of the “buddy” skill and the “dragon shouts.”  At first I don’t mind how fun it is to learn a new “dragon shout” or fart spell that I can use to manipulate the environment, do sneak attacks, and blow things up with fire.  But after the novelty wears off, these seem to be nothing more than mandatory skills that are only useful when the story forces you to use them.  Oh you want to get past that door?  You can’t unless you use a fart at just the right time.  Oh, you want to get past those guards?  You better distract them with a fart or you’ll get sent back to the start of the area.  Oh, the gate is closed?  You better change your buddy to Princess Kenny so you can charm that character and then never use Kenny again.  (Seriously, I only use Butters, and I hate having to switch him out for other buddies to pass these mandatory storyline quests).

All in all though, the game itself is a great wonder to behold and an experience no true gamer should ever pass up.  I believe South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of those games that will be around and talked about for a long time.  Everything it does, it does well.  The interface, the fully voiced characters, the graphics, the controls, the story, the dialogue, and the references are all perfectly done in this game and speak true to the fans.  If all games were made with the same detail, care, and attention as seen in South Park: The Stick of Truth, I think the entire gaming world would be a better place.  This game to me feels like an apology to the gamers for all the crappy and boring games that have come out in the past based off of popular television shows and movies and for that I am deeply thankful and take my hat off to South Park: The Stick of Truth.

South Park: The Stick of Truth First Impressions

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I just started South Park: The Stick of Truth on the PC recently and wanted to share some first impressions.  First of all, the reviews were right in that the game does deserve a 8-9/10 score.  The game has great presentation, a fun battle system, a hilarious story (so far) and will appeal to the fans of South Park.  The battle system is surprisingly challenging and fun, which I was not expecting in a South Park game.

As far as the game itself, they hit the nail on the head with how true it is to the show.  Not only are the graphics and voice overs identical to the show, but also the exploration and situations you encounter feel very on-par with the South Park series.  I don’t feel like I am playing just some game with South Park painted over top of it, but I feel like I am actually in a living, breathing, South Park world.  I am impressed.

To be honest, I can’t think of any other video game in the past where not only did it look like a show it was based off of, but also feels like that show.  I mean, some of the older games like Pokemon felt like you were living in the world if you used some imagination, but never before have I seen a game hit the nail on the head so well with both visual elements and story/interaction elements.  I can’t want to keep playing this one.

The Elder Scrolls Online Beta

ImageLike many MMO fans, I signed up for and was invited to the Elder Scrolls Online beta.  Recently the NDA has been lifted, so I thought I would share my experience.

The first time I had participated, I was very disappointed.  However in recent beta tests I have found a new interest in TESO.  My experience in this game so far are based off of  my first impressions and what my views are on this game compared to other MMO’s and RPG’s I’ve played in the past.  This also isn’t a review by any means, and I know it is still beta, so I will have to hold off on too many complaints I have until the actual release.

The game itself is beautiful and feels very much like an Elder Scrolls game.  The graphics, music, enemies, and atmosphere have that Elder Scrolls feel that we’ve all come to know and love and the world is filled with all the lore you could ask for.  The story and quests are all voiced over and are easy to pick up or decline based on what you as the player want to do.  There isn’t a lot of hand-holding or forced quests aside from the main storyline, so your character is free to roam and do things as you see fit.

That being said however, there are some MMO elements that make this feel very different from traditional Elder Scrolls games.  For one, areas are divided up by zones based on level ranges.  If you try taking your level 2 mage too far from the starting area, you’re gonna have a bad time.  Another difference is the lack of elements such as pickpocketing NPC’s, town guards, stealing items, killing NPC’s and looting corpses.  (Yes, corpses have some loot, but if you’re used to finding a full set of armor on a corpse, tough luck.)  Rather the world is set to be protected from the epic heroes running around and most of the content can’t be manipulated with as in other games.

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One thing they really need to work on in my opinion is the UI of The Elder Scrolls Online.  The minimal UI in Skyrim worked great for a single player game, but for an MMO, people like to have a “cluttered and interactive” HUD.  MMO players like to track quests and friends and events and items and statuses.  The quest tracker thus far is limited to one quest at a time, there is no mini map to see where I am going, and the chat box is very basic.  Another major complaint I have with the UI is that I can’t see the overhead names of other players.  I am unable to tell a fellow player from an NPC or an enemy, so I have no idea of that character I am approaching will help me out, try to kill me, or try to sell me some crap I don’t need.

Gathering and crafting in TESO so far seems to be on par with other MMO’s.  Items are scattered throughout the world and you can collect anything from basic food ingredients, to insect parts, to ores, to wood and plant fibers.  It seems very similar to the gathering/crafting system in Skyrim.  Of course I can’t think of many people who would have the time to go out and gather all those supplies, so I’m hoping to see an trading post in the game at some point.  Personally I was confused with the crafting system and would have liked an NPC quest to help walk me through how to do some basic crafts.

My impressions of TESO beta is that is is shaping up to be a well-made MMORPG and should appease the fans of The Elder Scrolls who want to try playing with other people instead of going the game alone.  However, I don’t believe this is going to last as a subscription-based MMO unless they do more catering to the existing MMO crowd.  I feel like this game is going to be worth the pricetag for the game itself, but not worth the monthly fee as there is not a lot of social content/interaction I am seeing available at this point.  I’ll keep reading updates though and see if they add more elements in the future.