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We don't want to overstate things here, we really don't - it's easy to let things get out of control when writing a preview, and we're hesitant to speak out of turn, but... South Park: The Stick of Truth is literally exactly what we hoped it would be when the game was announced. Like, exactly. In every way. Down to the last #@$%.
At E3 2012 we had a chance to watch the developers at Obsidian play through a short chunk of the game, starting at the opening and continuing to a later section, and we were genuinely surprised by how often we were laughing out loud at the story, the dialog, and even the combat, which was so absurdly violent that we took turns cringing and giggling.
The demonstration started off more similarly to an episode of South Park than another RPG. Players begin their journey as "the new kid," who moves into the humble town of South Park and is immediately sent off by his parents (who are planning on "wrestling" in their new home's bedroom) on the most difficult quest of all: making friends. After some wandering he ran into a group of kids fighting with fake swords, but they ignored him because he's new, and, thus, "lame." Fair enough.
Shortly thereafter he found the adorable Leopold "Butters" Stotch; the only kid in town even lamer than the new kid. Butters immediately whisks the new kid away to the kingdom of the wizard king, kicking off the game's epic journey.
Except no. Far from majestic, the wizard king was Eric Cartman, and the kingdom was his crappy back yard. We watched as the new kid was guided around by the big-boned star and was introduced to different characters from the show who were scattered around the "kingdom." Every character had the appropriate voice and tone, and visually, everything looked like it was straight out of the television show. Honestly, if we didn't know better, we'd have thought it was animated by South Park studios, instead of in the office of the California-based game developer.
After giving the new kid the ten cent tour of his crummy yard, Cartman plopped down in a chair obviously inspired by Game of Throne's iron throne (save for the fact that it was made of baseball bats and sticks instead of swords), and asked the new kid his name and class. Classes were typical RPG cliches like fighter and mage (it looks like they might have cut the "Jew" class talked about earlier in development, or at least we didn't hear about it), and the naming process pulled up the typical input screen. Everything looked typical, as far as RPGs go.
"Ace" the developers typed in.
"So, your name is douchebag?" Cartman inquired.
"No," the developer hit as the new kid scowled.
"Are you sure you want to be known as douchebag?" Cartman asked back.
Another "no," and it was set - henceforth, the new kid would be known as douchebag, a title which would be upgraded as he leveled. It's an easy workaround having the NPCs continue to refer to the new kid as, well, "the new kid," and fits into the show's nonsensical tone. It was a good play on both South Park's signature style and video game tropes, and we were happy to see the South Park writers tackling both in such a quick, effortless manner.
But before douchebag could be sent on a journey to City Wok to get Cartman some food (a noble quest indeed), something signaled the alarm: an elf attack. Well, actually, it was just kids wearing fake elf ears, but no matter - they were attacking the kingdom in hopes of stealing the titular Stick of Truth, meaning the new kid needed to actually start jumping into battles. Combat was simple, obviously aping the Paper Mario series' action/turn-based RPG system, but it was given a signature South Park flare.
Characters would bash each other with wooden weapons, shoot bottle rockets to cast "spells," and do other mean things to their enemies. Later, we also saw a battle with vampires (see: kids who talked about their emotions and how much they sparkled), which ended in the new kid summoning South Park's Mr. Slave who literally shoved an enemy into his butt. Like, the whole way in, all the way in there. It was yucky.
It's crude, it's crass, it's disturbing, and it looks like an absolute blast. South Park: The Stick of Truth is everything we want from a South Park game, and we can't wait to play it for ourselves when it releases next year.
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