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.