A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that South Park: The Stick of Truth is absolutely not for kids, despite its cartoonish aesthetic and cast of kid characters. Like the TV show that inspired it, it's filled with very mature humor. Jokes often include extreme profanity and explicit sexuality and represent a form of cultural, religious, and racial satire that kids are likely to misinterpret. The South Park children frequently fight, leaving each other bloody and bruised, and generally spend their time getting up to mischief, from vandalism to attacking small animals. Most of the grown-up characters are deeply flawed and irresponsible as well. They ask the kids to fight a gang of Mongolians, have a beer with them, and "deal" with the town's homeless problem. Meaningful and interesting ideas about issues such as commercialism, peer pressure, individuality, and religion are occasionally communicated amid the poop jokes, foul language, and questionable quests, but they're best received by a savvy, mature audience capable of sorting it all out.
What's it about?
Based on the long-running Comedy Central animated show, SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH is a role-playing game packed with crude and satirical jokes. The script -- written and performed by show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker -- tells the story of a new kid in town who begins the game looking to make some friends. He stumbles upon Cartman and his pals playing a fantasy role-playing game around the neighborhood and is drafted into Cartman's army of heroes, where he must decide whether he wants to take on the role of a fighter, mage, thief, or Jew. Then he begins adventuring around town, where he makes friends by adding them to his Facebook account, gets into turn-based fights against other kids using weapons ranging from a police baton to an izmel knife, and completes a wide array of quests that range from escaping from a ship full of aliens intent on giving him an anal probe to helping Al Gore track down and slay the ManBearPig.
Is it any good?
Like the TV show, South Park: The Stick of Truth is definitely not for kids. And its sense of humor -- more edgy and boundary-pushing than ever, thanks to a lack of network censorship -- won't be to all tastes. That said, grown-ups attuned to South Park's unusual brand of comedy will find a season's worth of politically incorrect satirical jokes scattered through the game. Its animation and dialogue are so similar to what's seen on TV that the game is essentially an interactive version of the show.
Sadly, though, the role-playing isn't quite a match for the presentation. Turn-based combat is sloppy and unforgiving, and navigating the two-dimensional town can be frustrating. Making matters worse, the controls are hard to figure out -- especially when it comes to solving puzzles outside of combat -- and likely will leave many players stumped in some areas. None of these issues will be deal breakers for die-hard South Park fans, who'll likely keep moving along just for the laugh-out-loud jokes. But players hoping for a great gaming experience equal to the comedy are bound to be disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: March 4, 2014
- Genre: Role Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.