Thy Name Is Douchebag: 13 Mins Of South Park

By Nathan Grayson on February 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

The hour of South Park: The Stick of Truth‘s arrival is nearly upon us – you know, after being nearly upon us, like, three different times before delays rudely shoved it out of the limelight. But now it’s (probably) happening for real this time, and Ubisoft has gameplay to prove it. 13 minutes of gameplay, to be precise. Why, that’s the entire… er, tutorial. OK, so maybe it’s not the most exciting bit, but there are still some hearty chuckles to be had. Well, if you think Cartman is the almighty wizard god emperor of humor, anyway.

I thought the name selection bit was pretty clever, and the combat system looks solidly action-y if not particularly spectacular. More than anything, I’m impressed by how seamlessly it apes the look and feel of the show. Everything is so immensely spot-on – from the animations to the little scraps of throwaway dialogue to how naturally everyone treats the outlandish premise. For better or worse, those early goings feel like a new episode of the show. Here’s hoping we’re in for a good one, given that South Park is more hit-or-miss than a hitman whose eyes have gone missing hitting on Miss America while listening to Dick Dale play hit song Misirlou.

That said, Stick of Truth lacks one of the show’s most powerful weapons: timing. By virtue of being in development for approximately 957 years, it can’t hurl its lampoon harpoon at current events practically as they’re happening. That’s impossible. It’s just the nature of the thing. Of course, one would assume the solution is to lampoon videogames as a whole instead, but we’ll see how that goes. Game jokes from people who don’t often make game jokes sometimes fall flat, simply because the medium is moving so quickly that one day’s infinitely mockable sensation is the next day’s groan-worthy overused meme.

But, if nothing else, Stick of Truth certainly doesn’t look terrible, and that’s a huge step up for South Park games. I am awaiting March 7th with a smile on my face, cautious optimism in my heart, and Cartman’s rendition of Poker Face on repeat.

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62 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    I remain cautiously hopeful enough that I expect to take a punt on it once it comes out. Reports of paper mario-like combat are reassuring to me.

    Please be good. Basically.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      It looks very promising, but I have to say, the fact that you have to time your buttons to block or make your attack hit for more damage… is a bit disappointing. I found that mechanic only twice, in The Witcher and in Costume Quest, and in both cases it got old and annoying very very soon.

      • iniudan says:

        It is also in Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario series (not sure on that one, only played the one on N64 and don’t have much memory of it). FF8 has it for Squall’s regular attack.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Paper mario does it marvelously, it sucks off a bit of the tedium of classic jrpg turn based combat, and if it can have its own variations, according to the ability. It can be fun! If you have a DS, check out the mario and luigi series, or any of the paper marios. You’ll love them!

        • SillyWizard says:

          Indeed, I’ve found it can be a welcome addition to otherwise snooze-worthy turn-based combat.

          (Not that turn-based combat is inherently snooze-worthy. Just that typically it is in JRPGs that don’t have some sort of…timed, quick-press button-pushing events.)

      • DanMan says:

        Your opinion. I don’t concur. I liked it in Shadow Hearts 2 on PS2, for example. It was a bit more complicated there though.

    • Ionsoment says:

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  2. InternetBatman says:

    I think Southpark is a much stronger show when it doesn’t rely on current events. The political episodes never miss a chance to show off a simplistic and unprincipled worldview. Their true strength is absurdism; their strongest episodes rely on it heavily, like Wilzyx, Fellowship of the Ring, and Good Times with Weapons.

    • pullthewires says:

      Very much agreed – they are exceptionally good at getting humour out of a child’s view of the world, but their current affairs episodes are usually just cringeworthy, like they can’t get out of the child’s mindset – the faggot episode is probably the best example. But they should be able to get good mileage out of the inherent ridiculousness of video games, assuming the writing has been given the proper attention.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      I think they’re better at mocking general human behaviour than specific events. The basic template of taking some common behaviour or way of thinking, blowing it up to absurd proportions for clarity and comedic effect, and then pointing out how stupid it is in the first place works every time.

      • Premium User Badge

        dahauns says:

        Exactly – and their best moments are when they can combine both, like e.g. ‘Miss Teacher bangs a boy’.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Amen. That’s Randy!

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      I don’t entirely agree. The reason why I find South Park very much superior to, say, the Simpsons is not that “it’s more fun”, but it’s precisely that South Park has a strong opinion and makes a case for it (or against the opposite view), it uses comedy and absurdism as means to make an argument, while the Simpsons poke everything without really criticizing anything or anyone (which is why they often have as vioce guests those same people they are making fun of, because it’s just harmless fun).

      There are a few episodes every season that are “just for fun” without any target for criticism, but, as fun as they may be to watch (I laughed until l almost cried at Tsst”) I don’t think they’re what makes the series special, they’re more like fillers to me.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        > the Simpsons poke everything without really criticizing anything or anyone (which is why they often have as vioce guests those same people they are making fun of, because it’s just harmless fun).

        Agreed re: Simpsons. Earlier seasons had much more of a satiric bite to them, now they often do the things they once mocked. For instance, in the Bart Gets Famous episode which lampoons overused catchphrase-based comedy, Krusty runs a sketch where he puts a “priceless Ming vase on top of this ladder! I sure hope nothing happens to it. EH? EH?” and then backs away pointing to it and looking at the audience.

        These days, there is not a single episode where Homer doesn’t hurt himself from stupidity…. but he doesn’t learn from it, so he does it at least two times more so even the slowest viewer gets it. And apparently we’re supposed to go “Haha I can’t believe he did that! *Classic* Homer!”

      • InternetBatman says:

        The problem is that the arguments they make are almost always boorish and simple. Even when I agree with them, like the smoking episode, it eventually gets tedious and painful to watch.

        And frequently, the position they take on an issue is one of criticizing both sides without actually taking a stance. That’s cheap and easy.

      • Henchimus says:

        Huh? So because the Simpsons aren’t partisan tub-thumpers, they’re worse satirists (OK, these days the Simpsons sucks, but when it was good)?

        If anything, Matt & Trey’s irritating 6th form libertarian preaching is one of South Park’s greatest weaknesses. A great satirist is able to see and highlight the flaws in all social phenomena. South Park does this sometimes, but can occasionally get too preachy. Comics should never preach politics; in all but a small few cases they end up going from great comic to incredibly ignorant and poor political pundit.

        In terms of politics and comedy though, the Simpsons mocks universal and timeless phenomena of corruption, deceit, sleaze and elitism; South Park tends too much to focus on specific political issues of the time, such that in 10 years time many episodes simply won’t be relevant or funny. The reason great writers are remembered centuries later is because the messages they promote are timeless; I definitely think the Simpsons has South Park beat on that one!

        • Jimmy says:

          The Simpsons episodes on the Monorail and the one where Homer gets elected to take care of waste are wonderful takes on populism, where there the inherent short-sightedness of loudly ignorant folk (including loveable Homer) result in the decline of community and corruption. Both are from the 90s, I think.

          South Park fares better on absurdity and political correctness, as well as hypocrisy. Also, the Make Love, Not Warcraft is still classic, even if terms like pwn are out of fashion.

    • Wildeheart says:

      Could not disagree with this more to be honest. I basically watch South Park for the political commentary and current affairs humour. It’s the more traditional silly cartoon stuff I don’t care about what with being in my late thirties and no longer excited merely by loud colours and random humour. That said I’m still hella excited about the game and haven’t ever really seen an episode I didn’t like so I’m probably a little biased.

    • horsemedic says:

      This ++

      And that’s why after loving the early seasons, I suffered through the recent ones and wrote the show off after the last season. If I spend all week listening to news about NSA spying, I don’t want to watch a 22 minute political cartoon about NSA spying.

      Really hoping the game format will force them to abandon any attempt at current-event commentary. Worried they will instead cram it full of 2 years worth of pop culture.

      • Wildeheart says:

        From reading that post it seems to me an awful lot like you don’t actually want a South Park game all. Being crammed full of pop-culture and current affairs references is basically what South Park does. If you just want a funny cartoon about some children why not watch just watch some Nickelodeon and stop saying how much you’d prefer South Park if it wasn’t South Park.

  3. Drake Sigar says:

    Oh wow, it’s so seamless it’s almost eerie.

    • SomeDuder says:

      I love it! You know how “they” always say how videogame visual quality is going to be so close to real-life that you can’t make out the difference? I always figured, where’s the fun in that? I get that by looking out the window. But this, this is great! This is what videogames should aim for – not lifelike visual quality, but visual quality that makes sense in its own setting!

      • The Random One says:

        I looked out the window once. Graphics were great but the art direction was bland.

  4. Brinx says:

    I don’t know. I usually find those jokes about jews more insulting than funny. Could never really get into the show for some reason. But maybe that’s just me being German.

    • commentingaccount says:

      Well, the Jew jokes in south park, almost always, are designed to show just how terrible of a person Cartman is. The rare ones that aren’t are the show’s Jewish writers poking fun at stereotypes that apply to them.

    • chris1479 says:

      If you find it insulting it’s because either a) You have no sense of humour or b) You are missing the broader context of Cartman as a character and what the creators of South Park are angling at by making such a foul-mouthed horrible character.

      Or we could just ban this sick filth to protect your feelings.

      • PsychoWedge says:

        There is a third option, you know. Maybe Germans in general have a bit of a hard time with everything Jew related that isn’t totally tactful and harmless. One could maybe compare it to a white American director making a movie about slavery and having all the characters constantly use the word nigger to such an extend that even black black people who are for the use of the word say that is a bit much. It’s called historical and cultural context…

    • chris1479 says:

      Woops I just said that a German had no sense of humour. Please don’t put me in a camp, I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry, I’ll never say it again, it wasn’t me, it was a guy I live with, take him, take him!

  5. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Lots of combat mechanics introduced just in those tutorial fights, which bodes good. Perhaps this is all there is to it, but I hope for challenging and complex fights with lots of strategy later in the game. IGN or Destructoid (forgot which) said combat was actually pretty difficult – they missed a few blocks and consequently died fighting a few elf archers. If you wander too far you risk meeting foes far beyond your level.

    Lots of details in the video if you look carefully. There is a partially hidden gym bag outside the house, and a chinpokomon sitting in the tree behind Butters. There is a “catch them all” achievement and a crafting system so I suspect there will be lots of hidden stuff to find for those who like to explore. The ranger has insulin vials and syringes in his weapon belt. One of Cartman’s mom’s inflatable sex dolls has been painted as an orc. Cartman’s mom and the new kids dad are both on their phones – are they texting each other?

    Poking fun at two classic JRPG tropes, the silent protagonist and origin amnesia mystery. I hope western/PC RPGs get’s as much “love” as console JRPGs seem to get. I suspect it will be a pretty long game too, considering how long it has been in development and all the different subplots and categories of foes that have been hinted at (I’d list them, but…spoilers).

    Despite being one of the standard social justice warriors on RPS, I can’t get offended by the over the top attempts to shock, though I think deep down they prefer kicking down to up. If there is one place I think Matt and Trey are really wrong though it is when it comes to the libertarian “global warming is a myth, environmentalists are all nuts, and things are only constantly getting better” tenets. Not just mistaken, but dangerously wrong, like anti-vacciners, HIV-denialists and other modern flat-earthers who hate and ridicule science when it contradicts their deeply held beliefs.

    I’m really looking forward to this. South Park, I can take it or leave it…but a big Obsidian title man, one that looks like a real labor of love!

    • GernauMorat says:

      Agree with you on their libertarian politics, but then again, some of those episodes are great: think of Douche and Turd, which is simultaneously about the fundamental silliness of american democracy and a PETA cult which fucks animals in the woods!

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      I quite agree. I’m a huge fan, and I’ve watched every episode, most of them more than once, but I think the critical side of the show is a lot better than the positive side. In other words, they’re very good (and often right IMO) at pointing out what’s wrong in something, showing how and why it’s wrong in a very effective way; they’re less strong when they try to point out why something is “right”.

      The episode I most disagreed with was the one about 9/11; it may not have been a “conspiracy” after all, but they were basically saying that to even think it was a false flag attack equaled being crazy and paranoid and only seeing what you wanted to see, without much of an argument being made in favor of their own point of view. Instead, their strongest episode, politically speaking, may be the double episode “Cartoon Wars” about censorship and terrorism and Muhammad (and, occasionally, Family Guy).

    • Terragot says:

      Fantastic observations with great critical analysis whilst still giving it the benefit of the doubt.

      Can we get Lar’s post as top comment, please?

    • Jenks says:

      Excelsior!!

    • Carlos Danger says:

      Manbearpig would approve. The sacristy of the cult must be defended from all the interlopers and apostates. Hopefully one day you can burn them all.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        See, this is exactly why they are dangerously wrong. For years after the original ManBearPig episode, you couldn’t discuss the environment on Slashdot (sort of Reddit of its day, for you younger folks) and similar sites without someone just saying “ManBearPig” and getting “+5 Insightful” karma for it. It’s a very effective “thoughtstopper”.

        It’s actually because I want to prevent people from burning that I think we should take AGW seriously. Draught and starvation risks global instability.

        • derbefrier says:

          i dunno the message i got from all the political episodes is to remember that even those that mean well such as environmentalists can get carried away and go to far, devolve into extremists. Global Warming is by no means 100% proven without a doubt. there are still many scientists that argue against it still today. if its such a big threat as its sometimes portrayed by politicians( just about every natural disaster these days is politicized into a pro climate change argument regardless if the argument actually has any merit in that circumstance) but as always when things turn political people pick a side and stick to it no matter what and I think a lot times with their satire does a great job of pointing that out. at least thats the main message I always got when watching. “slow down think about it and consider the possibility you might be wrong or overreacting” seems to be a common theme among the series.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lars Westergren says:

            No, it’s not 100% proven, few things are in science. A few scientists argue against it, but the overwhelming scientific conscensus is that it is real and dangerous.

            With regards to extremism – Fair point. Perhaps I should watch it again, it was a decade or so since.

            Thanks for keeping the discussion level headed.

          • Koozer says:

            “Global Warming is by no means 100% proven without a doubt. there are still many scientists that argue against it still today.”

            Gravity isn’t proven 100% without a doubt. There are many ‘scientists’ who argue against the theory of evolution. Besides, what would you rather do: give in and do everything you can to mitigate the potential effects of global warming only for said effects to never happen, or carry on doing nothing and be proven wrong?

          • derbefrier says:

            koozer don’t take my acknowledgement that climate change may not be 100% man made to mean i don’t give a shit about the environment. but you do illustrate the exact point I was trying to make in my original post . This Your “for us or against us” mentality that seems to permeate these types of discussions is, in my opinion exactly what the south park creators are trying to bring to peoples attention in their political episodes while also showing how harmful that kind of thinking can be in the long run. Its important we don’t let our haste to fix something or defend it override our common sense which is generally the ongoing theme of many a south park episode. I mean what to the kids often represent? t he reasonable individual that is open to the more nuanced arguments. while the parents tend to represent the big dumb group think type of people that tend to overreact and take hings waaaay to far.

          • Koozer says:

            Derbefrier: I read your first comment as denying all global warming!

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          They revisited ManBearPig in the Imaginationland episodes with the exclamation “See! ManBearPig IS real!” Which I took to mean “we were just taking the piss out of Al Gore for his earnestness, and global warming actually is real.”

          Of course, there’s no chance I’m projecting.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lars Westergren says:

            We shall have to go over every detail in the game carefully to decide its ideological purity.
            ;)

  6. DrMcCoy says:

    so stick. much immerse. such game. wow.

  7. Lobotomist says:

    Jew class. Take that D&D !
    Hehe, how awesome is that :D

    • Tacroy says:

      Actually “Elf” was its own class in the original 1974 D&D, so that’s not just some unsupported joke.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    Steam doesn’t make it clear or not, but is this controller only?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Doubt it, “Brother’s: A Tale…” has a very clear disclaimer about controller on the Steam page.

      Green Man Gaming claims “Windows-compatible keyboard and mouse required, optional controller”. Obsidian stalker C2B asks for more details on the forums, but no reply yet.

      http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/65075-pc-controls-mouse-support/

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Hopefully when using Keyboard/Mouse the onscreen prompts reflect your chosen control method. One thing I absolutely hate is when PC versions of games come plastered with XBox Controller commands throughout the game, a’la Sleeping Dogs. It’s just really lazy porting when devs decide to do that.

    • SillyWizard says:

      More importantly, is this going to require uPlay?

  9. Teovald says:

    It looks very good. Granted, South Park graphical style is very adapted to this kind of exercise, but that’s still very impressive.
    However, it is several years too late for me, I am severely burned out on South Park, The show has shied away from all attempts to renew itself and after a while, all the new episodes just look like rehash of old ones. I fear that the game will suffer from the same problem, the show premise has just been exploited for far too long already.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The Game of Thrones trilogy (particularly the first two) were some of the strongest episodes they’ve ever done. And they even tie directly into this game. The thing about South Park is that it’s almost always been hit-or-miss, both topically and in terms of laughs. But when they’re on point, there isn’t much on TV that can compete.

  10. jlivius says:

    I wouldn’t say the South Park writers don’t often do game jokes. Some of the most memorable episodes have revolved around particular games and video game culture.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      The rant about people pre-ordering games in one of the black friday episodes springs to mind.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Logged in to say this.
      It’s a dumb thing to say, that the SP guys can’t joke about games, when they are obviously into the gamer culture and probably gamers themselves. It’s quite apparent in many episodes.

  11. Kal says:

    40 quid though, right?

  12. bstard says:

    I’ll pass and wait for the Brickleberrie game.