Monday, April 14, 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Welcome to South Park

The prospect of a RPG South Park game sounds like a horrible idea, like a LJN game on the NES.  But, creators’ Trey Parker & Matt Stone did something unexpected, and went to developers with their idea for a game.  Without their involvement ‘The Stick of Truth’ would have suffered.  First and most importantly, this looks and sounds like an episode of South Park.  By the time the F-bomb flies and Kenny dies, you’ll know if this is your type of entertainment or not.  

You play as the new kid, aptly named ‘Douchebag’, who must fight elves, the homeless, ManBearPig, and Nazi-Zombies to save the town and recover the stick of truth.  This is South Park in all of its glory from its humble beginnings of an anal probe to adventures in Canada.  


There are four classes to choose:  Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew.  Each have their own special abilities, but that is the extent of their uniqueness.  Your choice really doesn’t matter.  Even though this is a turn base battle system, you must press the correct button prompts, little QTE (Quick Time Events) to execute both attacks and defending. 

This can take some time getting use to can be frustrating at times because the controls / responsiveness are loose.  This can be particularly irritating when blocking an enemy attack, as it feels more like guessing than skill.  But, The Stick of Truth is very forgiving and you can easily recover from a mistake.  This is not Dark Souls.

During combat, you’ll discover that status effects: Bleeding, Burning, Gross, and Stuns will be your major source of damage.  That said, the battle system is the game’s weakest element. The other aspects of The Stick of Truth are all well done.  The jokes are funny, fresh, with many laugh of loud moments.  With the highlights being the two night chapters. 

However, another problem the game frequently runs into are the loading screens and frame rate drops during auto saves.  The loading screens are sometimes so frequent it becomes annoying.  If you choose to complete all the side-quests alongside the main story, the game will take roughly 14 hours to complete.  I would call The Stick of Truth a RPG-light game that has little replay value, except for trophies.  If you’re a South Park fan and also a gamer, then you’ll laugh and enjoy this game without a doubt.

South Park: The Stick of Truth 
8.5 / 10

Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

January 9th, 2014— ‘Lone Survivor’ is the film adaption of the book of the same title, which depicts the failed covert mission, “Operation Red Wings.”  During the operation, four members of Seal Team 10 are ambushed while trying to eliminate a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. 

Given the film’s incredible source material, I was slightly disappointed with the final product.  This was due to writer/director Peter Berg’s involvement.  2013 was an interesting year for Berg, who received nominations for best adaptive screenplay (‘Lone Survivor’) and two Razzies (‘Battleship.')   

The first thirty-minutes are slow, even boring, and provide little characterization.  Also, it’s confusing, thanks to three disconnected opening scenes.   Although the performances are fine, most of the characters look too much alike (shaggy beards and sunglasses).  Berg also focuses on the SEALs’ deaths rather than developing the characters.  The Taliban is depicted with no redeeming qualities, while the Navy SEALs are heroic, patriotic, and self-sacrificing.  This simplistic ‘good vs. evil’ world view robs the film of any depth.   

After a rough first act, ‘Lone Survivor’ finally gets its footing, and even though the audience already knows the final outcome, the film was able to deliver tense scenes.  It is hard to believe that so much went wrong during this mission, and these non-fiction elements help the audience to become invested with the characters.

Lone Survivor’ is one of those movies that has a ‘must-see-part.’  However to get there, you must slog through the first act.  Act two is one extended action scene, and is the highlight of the film.  By this point, the excitement should be enough to hold your interest to the end. 

The film’s score was completely flat, almost non-existent.  Keep in mind that a strong musical score can lift an average movie from dull to amazing.  The visuals are well done, and I appreciate the use of squibs rather than the CGI effects. 

As a modern war film, ‘Lone Survivor’ will be compared to ‘Black Hawk Down and ‘The Hurt Locker.’  In that regard, this movie feels less substantial, muddled with odd production and writing decisions.  For a movie technically released in 2013 for award concretization, is ‘Lone Survivor’ worth your time?  If the true story element interests you, then yes, you will probably enjoy the film.  But if you’re expecting fleshed-out characters or creative action set pieces, then no; you’ll probably hate every minute.  The added elements of fiction add little or even hurt ‘Lone Survivor,’ while the non-fiction events are its strength and emotional core.