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Game Reviews

MPAA Rating
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Genre
Role-Playing, Combat
PLATFORM
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
PUBLISHER
Ubisoft
RELEASED
March 4, 2014
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
South Park: The Stick of Truth

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Absurd, profane and flat-out repugnant.

Those are somewhat understated descriptions of what writers/animators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have consistently concocted with their half-hour TV comedy South Park. Ever since it first showed up on Comedy Central back in 1997, it's been an overt and intentionally controversial raunch-fest that's kept viewers buzzing and/or blanching.

Could this video game be any different?

(The answer is no, but you can continue reading if you wish.)

A Stick to Beat All Sticks …
As in the show, the game's outsized action takes place in the (fictional) sleepy mountain town of South Park, Colo. The story centers on the imagination-laden play of a bunch of cynical (very foul-mouthed) construction paper cutout grade schoolers whose ranks include Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Butters. Gamers play as a new cutout kid who's just moved in. He's named … well, actually it really doesn't matter what you name him, because he ends up with the moniker of "Douche Bag" in any case.

Dou … OK, let's just call him "the kid." The kid moves into town and is quickly invited to join one of two fantasy clubs. That sets him up to participate in an ongoing Live Action Role Playing (LARPing) session taking place between teams of "humans" and "elves"—a tug-and-pull that was initiated in a South Park episode and involves nearly all the 4th and 5th graders.

They dress up in silly, patched-together cosplay outfits, assuming the role of a given class—either fighter, thief, mage or … Jew. They covet only one thing: control of the one and only STICK OF TRUTH! Of course that longed-after relic is really only a common branch, but Cartman, the humans' Wizard King, convinces all his 9- and 10-year-old underlings that it controls the universe.

… and Some Foul Gas to Best Them All
In their pursuit of that ultimate power, the kids flail at one another in turn-based RPG melee battles with weapons ranging from coat hangers and tack hammers to a playground kickball and a space alien laser rifle. They also use magic and special powers that include things like Roman candles and old car batteries or explosive fart-'til-your-foe-vomits techniques.

Now, if you didn't know anything about South Park going in, an early-on cursory glance might lead you to believe that this game—with its colorful cartoony characters and gag-centric conflicts—was actually designed with kids in mind.

But that couldn't be further from the truth. This may well be the nastiest, crudest, most incredibly crass video game ever made. The obscenity- and blasphemy-laden dialogue is filthy to the extreme. The story greedily and gratuitously lampoons and harpoons politics, religion, childhood innocence, parenthood, race, all manner of sexuality … and space aliens. It does so with the rawest and most vulgar satire imaginable.

(Sadly, all of that vitriol will be taken as a sick and sad endorsement by the game's makers and fans.)

Honey, They Shrunk Our Morals
Still with me? Are you sure you want to be? Because all that's left here is space for a few of the dirty details delivered only to drive the point home.

Early on, the new kid gets a chance to rummage through a single mom's bedroom, gathering up her many sex toys, vibrators, lubrications and drug paraphernalia. In another instance he's abducted by anal-probing space aliens—with an emphasis on that probing element that produces screaming from the painful torture as well as moaning in twisted pleasure. (Gamers can abuse one trussed-up victim as much as they want to with a repeated press of a button.)

A magically shrunken version of the kid must also battle an underwear gnome on his parents' bed as the adults thrash about in the throes of heated sex. (The scene is soaked with profanity-laced lustful grunts, as well as close-ups of Dad's giant naked genitals and Mom's bare swinging breasts.) Later, again miniaturized, the kid takes on various foul creatures and objects after squirming his way into a gay man's rectum.

In one sordid sentence, it's paper cutout grade schoolers repugnantly playing with everything from a celebutant's aborted "zombie baby" to a pedophile's zipper. Masturbation, bestiality, transgenderism, vomit, drug-dealing, full-frontal nudity, anal beads, the forcible removal of someone's testicles, circumcision and the throwing of poop—this list of visual and verbal obscenities goes on and on. And then the game drags Jesus into the middle of all the nastiness, while also giving gamers the chance to "accept" Satan as their one "Lord and Savior."

No bleeps here. No blurs. And not even the mildest of TV censors' restraint to dilute the damage as gamers play through the equivalent of about two seasons' worth of salacious South Park shows and movies.

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