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What happens in Vegas  photo
What happens in Vegas

New Vegas almost beat Fallout 4 to player romance

What happens in Vegas is a bad joke
Sep 02
// Steven Hansen
As we learned in "No fucking the robot," Fallout 4 will have romance options for the human percentage of its 12 companion characters. Obsidian almost beat Bethesda to the punch in 2010. Fallout: New Vegas lead designer Josh S...
KotOR II update photo
KotOR II update

Knights of the Old Republic II is now even better on Steam

New update, playable on Mac and Linux
Jul 21
// Jordan Devore
Aspyr has a real pleasant surprise for Star Wars fans today. The company released an update for Knights of the Old Republic II on Steam that helps ensure the Obsidian Entertainment-developed RPG will live on for another decad...
Pillars of Eternity photo
Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity: The White March is set to be one epic expansion

Part one launches this year
Jun 23
// Alessandro Fillari
As one of Obsidian Entertainment's most ambitious titles, Pillars of Eternity earned a lot of respect from fans of the genre. The developers found great success in returning to their roots, and they've got more in store for t...
Strafe on PC photo
Strafe on PC

Pillars of Eternity is getting an expansion called 'The White March'

More content for Obsidian's latest cRPG
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Obsidian took the stage at E3's first PC Gaming Show to announce a brand new expansion for Pillars of Eternity -- The White March. It will feature a higher level cap, new abilities, new companions. It's being bille...

Chris Avellone photo
Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone has left Obsidian Entertainment

No reasons given as yet
Jun 09
// Josh Tolentino
If you're at all into PC-style role-playing games of the Baldur's Gate variety, this may be big news to you: Chris Avellone has, according to brief Twitter and Facebook announcements, parted ways with Obsidian Entertainm...
South Park photo
South Park

Ubisoft sold 1.6m copies of South Park: Stick of Truth

It took over a year to count everything
May 14
// Vikki Blake
Ubisoft has sold 1.6 million copies of South Park: The Stick of Truth. The confirmation comes via Ubisoft's recent earnings report. Though the developer had previously revealed that sales of 2014's best RPG (yeah, I think it ...
Speedrun photo

Pillars of Eternity, beaten in less than 40 minutes

Apr 15
// Steven Hansen
Conrad lost a lot of his life to Pillars of Eternity when he reviewed it. Clearly the poor sap was playing it wrong because Jiseed beat the damn thing in less time than it takes to watch the newest watercooler TV episode. Sk...

Review: Pillars of Eternity

Mar 26 // Conrad Zimmerman
Pillars of Eternity (PC)Developer: Obsidian EntertainmentPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March 26, 2015MSRP: $44.99 The world of Eora, the setting for Pillars of Eternity, is a magical place. The environments are meticulously crafted and beautiful. Whether it be shimmering rock formations growing from the ground in mountainous terrain or a hideous altar in a dank and forgotten tomb, the visual design instills an urge to seek out every nook and cranny of a map. Character models do not fare as well, with muddled features and skin textures. They aren't hideous, per se, but simply stand out in a manner which is unappealing in comparison to the game's otherwise consistently good visual design. The player takes the role of an immigrant seeking a fresh start in the colonies of the Eastern Reach, whose encounter with a mysterious cult awakens a great and terrible power within them. Worse yet, the region isn't the bright opportunity it was promised to be. A curse has fallen over the land, its children are born hollow monsters without souls, and the helpless populace is growing increasingly desperate. Taking place in just a tiny region of the larger world of Eora, the Eastern Reach is still dense with lore. Five nations interact in these colonies, with thousands of years of history, and there's a remarkable amount of information to learn about it as progress is made through conversations or written volumes. The materials often raise as many questions as they answer, as there is much the people of Eora are still learning about their world, and there's a real sense of mystery and wonder about it from beginning to end. [embed]289590:57936:0[/embed] If you don't like reading, you're going to have a pretty miserable time. A surprising quantity of dialogue is voiced, all performed brilliantly, but this is just a fraction of the content. And, as is often the case in fantasy settings, there are a ton of odd names and places to keep track of, including nearly a dozen deities, assorted personalities, and events -- and there will be a quiz. Thankfully, the game maintains an exhaustive cyclopedia which can easily be referenced most of the time (although, not during conversations when it would be of the greatest value). Key to this setting is the concept of a soul as a quantifiable element, a form of seemingly self-perpetuating energy. Much remains unknown about souls and a field of study, Animancy, has arisen to research and experiment with them. In their natural cycle, souls take residence in bodies prior to birth, giving them life until their point of expiration, with the soul eventually moving on to a new life. Each time it transitions, a soul loses parts of itself (or perhaps gains lost parts of others), effectively becoming a new person. The soul, however, retains most of the experiences of its past lives, locked away from its present one except in rare cases when a soul becomes awakened. Such an awakening happens to the player's character early in the story and becomes the focus of their quest, seeking a means of reversing the effect before it drives them mad. Now what is known as a "Watcher," the player can experience the past lives of others and speak to souls which have yet to move on, but is plagued by visions and nightmares. Gifted and cursed, the Watcher will learn of the role they once played in shaping the world of Eora and how they might yet change it again. Despite taking place in a relatively small region, there remains a massive scope to the events in the main plot and an enemy truly worthy of revulsion. By contrast, the companions the player will meet along the way are all likable figures. Even the curmudgeonly Durance, a priest with a complicated love/hate relationship toward his Goddess, comes across as someone you'd like to go on an adventure with. There are eight companions to meet, each with their own reasons for traveling that can be explored in optional quests and conversations on the road. Up to five companions can travel with the Watcher at a time, and custom adventurers can be created by hiring them from any inn in the Eastern Reach, useful for filling gaps in a combat strategy. All exploration and combat in Pillars of Eternity plays out as issued commands executed in real-time. The passage of time can be slowed to make issuing commands easier (the reverse is available to make trekking across previously explored areas faster), but there's frequently so much activity in battles with a party of six that the always available option to pause and strategize is a necessity. Pausing is so crucial, an entire menu is dedicated to offering a wide range of situations in which the game can be made to automatically pause. It's a godsend in a combat system which is all about micromanagement. Moving individual characters into and out of harm's way, targeting spells and abilities (taking into account casting time) to maximize effects, switching equipment to adjust for differing enemy types, and other such second-to-second decisions quickly become a part of every fight. As such, the experience of a typical combat encounter is a bit like being in a fun sort of traffic jam that you can have an impact on the result of. The action inches forward one step at a time, the player reacting to movements of the enemies, seizing opportunities, until the tide turns and the last enemy dregs are mopped up without interference. There is a lot to keep track of, and it can be easy for party members to be knocked unconscious if not attended to, which can then weaken the entire party until they start dropping like dominoes. The system has a simple interface, point and click for movement and attack with other abilities available above a character's portrait. Mastering it, however, requires considerable planning and strategy in both preparation and execution. Death, curiously, is an aspect in which Pillars is quite forgiving. When hit, characters lose points in two stats, health and endurance. If the character runs out of endurance, they will be knocked unconscious and are out of the fight until it ends. If they lose all of their health, they become maimed, and any subsequent damage will almost certainly kill them. While there is certainly a risk to the character when this happens, the effect is removed with rest and it's rare to be in a position where rest is impossible (either by using a single-use item in the field or traveling to an inn). The difficulty of combat encourages discretion, as does the game's character growth system which only awards experience for accomplishing goals and exploring the world, not for killing enemies. When characters attain a new level, points may be spent to increase their skills and they can acquire new class-based abilities, chosen from a list. Leveling up is a much more streamlined approach than character creation, eschewing any option to control the development of attributes in favor of the game's six basic skills. This makes leveling up feel like less of a chore than many other games of this type, a welcome trait when the player may be dealing with half a dozen characters all earning a level at the same time. Equipment is the other means to improving a character's abilities. Shops in the various communities carry special arms and armor at random for exorbitant prices, often with potent effects. Equipment can also be enchanted to confer bonuses, or even crafted entirely, using materials collected from monsters and the environment. The crafting system is not complex or deep, just an available list of things which can be made based on recipes, materials, and level, but it does provide ways to gain an additional edge. Pillars of Eternity offers a lot of content and a good variety of ways to experience it. Four difficulty settings exist, along with the brutal "Trial by Iron" mode, which allows only one save file, automatically deleted if the Watcher dies. Dozens of side quests and lesser tasks are available by chatting with townsfolk or just stumbling around in some cases. A stronghold acquired early in the game can be restored to its former glory, offering more quests and assorted benefits, but must also be defended from threats both outside its walls and from the unexplored depths below. Many quests can be resolved in multiple ways, with different effects on the player's reputation in the world, allowing for a considerable amount of narrative replay value as well. A decent range of racial types pairs well with a wide variety of character classes, especially in the range of magic-using classes which have a noticeable diversity in the function of their abilities. Obsidian has crafted a game full of challenge, intrigue, betrayal, and heart. The Eastern Reach is bleak and hopeful at the same time, and the main plot is packed with twists and surprises with staggering ramifications for a world players will feel they have become part of. Its combat is tense and relentless despite the capability to pause at any point, the mechanics offering complex strategic challenges with difficulty settings to accommodate most levels of skill. Pillars of Eternity proudly carries on the legacy of the classic computer RPG, and those who remember them with fondness should find in it a welcome addition to the genre. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Pillars of Eternity photo
It's all about soul
Pillars of Eternity is a sort of game which appeared unlikely to exist again in any meaningful way. Isometric, party-based role-playing games certainly seemed like the sort of thing people made, "back in the day," something t...

Don Pilar photo
Don Pilar

Old school cRPG-inspired Pillars of Eternity out now

Don Pilar's Of Eternity
Mar 26
// Steven Hansen
Obsidian Entertainment's crowdfunded, Baldur's Gate-style role-playing game Pillars of Eternity is out today. Reviews are coming in hot, mad positive, though you'll have to wait (with bells on) a whole hour longer for ours. ...
Deals photo

Cut 25% off Pillars of Eternity prior to Thursday's launch

Obsidian fans take note
Mar 25
// Dealzon
On Thursday, March 26, Obsidian Entertainment's new RPG Pillars of Eternity releases on PC for $44.99. Pre-ordering before launch will not only get you a few in-game digital bonuses, but you can save about $11.25 of...
South Park photo
South Park

PSA: South Park: The Stick of Truth dropped to $5 on PS3

The greatest RPG of a generation
Mar 17
// Robert Summa
If you don't own South Park: The Stick of Truth or never played it, then what the fuck is wrong with you? Well, if you own a PlayStation 3, then it's time to correct yourself. Now that the game is only $5, there's really no excuse not to play it. You can check out some other price drops here (I know ya'll want that Smurfs 2). PlayStation Store Update [PlayStation.Blog]

Will Bethesda hurry up and announce Fallout 4?

Mar 03 // Nic Rowen
Love takes time to grow. I got about six hours into Fallout 3 before abandoning my first run. Something wasn't clicking. Trekking around the wasteland as a leather-jacketed hard case set on righting every wrong he came across was proving to be a snooze-fest. As was stopping to help every quailing citizen of post-apocalyptia who was having trouble with their computer, or needed a few more iguanas for their stew. I spent most of those first six hours bumbling around in Megaton, the first settlement you discover, running errands for “survivors” who seemed utterly incapable of keeping themselves alive and resenting them for it. I felt like Dudley Do-Right cosplaying as Mad Max. What was worse was I was incompetent at it. I didn't have a clue how to fix their flipping computers. I built my first character like an Olympic athlete who could field strip an M-16 in the dark and catch bullets out of the air with his freakishly tough and unnaturally quick hands. Computers were for nerds, not wasteland avengers. I didn't make a character who could sneak around picking shitty desk locks looking for a password, or charm his way out of a confrontation. I made the kind of guy I thought the wasteland would need – an asskicker, a soldier, a rebel with a heart of gold. And it was so terribly, terribly boring. I went back to the drawing board. I restarted the game with the kind of guy I thought the wasteland would need the least. Another lunatic set loose on the skeleton of the old world. A lanky freak who was about as tough as a ten-year-old with progeria. A man whose talents included small engine repair, skulking about in the shadows, and an unhealthy interest in explosives. Someone who was likely to rebuild something just to blow it up again. I gave him a mohawk the color of corn-silk and a face too long for its own good. Big bulging eyes that jutted out a little too far from each other, just this side of gonk. His S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats could truly be considered “special.” Barely any strength or endurance, moderate charisma and intelligence, but preternatural powers of perception and a wild dash of luck. Maybe it reflected being born under a good sign? Or maybe it was just the natural canniness of the criminally ill. Instead of playing a man driven by a sense of justice and righting wrongs, I gave my new character a spirit of raw curiosity. A person less interested in the right or wrong of something, but driven to explore and experiment, regardless of the outcome. I stopped choosing my words based on what I thought was right, instead just going with whatever dialog option I liked the best at the time, even if it made him occasionally contradictory or less than helpful. He had his mind shattered the moment he was cast out of the only life he ever knew and exiled into a poisoned and dead world. Or maybe there was always a spark of madness in him, fanned into a blaze by the VaultTec door swinging shut behind him. He had a mild phobia of guns, preferring to dive into melee swinging a baseball bat or knife with his skinny arms, or better yet, to just toss grenades at his problems. I found the Vault 101 Utility suit with the red converse sneakers in the opening tutorial and kept him in them the whole game. Fuck leather jackets and metal knee braces, I was going to face the end of the world looking like a hipster janitor. I had one guiding principal for this run: I would only do things that interested me. If a quest-line looked boring, I'd skip it. If something caught my eye, I'd abandon what I was doing and go check it out, I would always follow my curiosity. I would never bother to check my karma level, or spend time worrying about my character build (no amount of meta-gaming would ever repair his broken stats anyway). I got over my fear of sequence breaking or wandering into an area that was too tough or advanced for my character. I just assumed it would all work out eventually. What I'm describing might not seem like much to some people. I'm sure this is how a lot of people already experience big open games like Fallout and Skyrim. But for me, it was a revolution. A complete rewiring of my mental pathways, a total inversion of how I usually approached those sorts of games. It cured me from the paralysis of choice. The self-defeating spiral where there is just so much to do and explore that you spend more time fretting about what you “should” be doing, or what you could be missing, than actually enjoying the experience. Making a character who couldn't or wouldn't use most of the best loot in the game freed me from worrying about completing quests the “best” way. I was free from making choices based on what would get me the best laser gun at the end of a story arc to making choices that would bring me satisfaction. I dove back into the wasteland with my funny-red-sneaker-wearing weirdo, and I didn't come back out until 120 hours later. Forget about chasing down Dad or following up on the main quest; I picked a random direction from the door of Vault 101 and started walking. It wasn't long before I came across an abandoned shack and a big ol' combat knife called the Stabhappy. It was like providence was telling me I was on the right track. I explored what was left of The Mall, stumbling over historic sites while trying to dodge super mutant patrols as a puny level 5 wanderer with distressingly few combat skills (landmines and re-purposed booby traps became my best friend). I got the vague sensation that I was probably supposed to end up in this area as part of some epic quest-line later in the game, but so what? I was curious, plus it was more fun having to sneak by all the mutants than it would have been to just hurl plasma at them. Much later on, I was tasked with escorting a teenager named Sticky from the child-only settlement of Little Lamplight to Big Town, where they exile all the chumps who are getting a little too old for their own good. So I did what any responsible adult would do when saddled with an annoying 16-year-old who has the mental competency of a 13-year-old: I gave him a suit of cybernetic war armor and a gigantic mini-gun. When I got him to Big Town, it seemed weird to let him wander about in his powersuit while the rest of the town's residents wore rags and were trying to defend themselves with rusty bolt-action rifles and lead pipes. So militarizing Big Town became my pet project. One of the many quirks of the Gamebryo engine Bethesda uses is the ability to reverse-pickpocket items into an NPC's possession. If you have a high enough sneak rating, you can (somehow) covertly place a flamethrower in a random NPC's pocket, and they'll equip it next time you load up the area. Same with clothes and armor. The items are persistent, so they'll stick with the characters and over time, Big Town became my own living museum of all the cool gear I couldn't or wouldn't use. Custom power armor from The Pitt DLC, named weapons like the Blackhawk magnum and Lincoln's Repeater. Big Town went from a squalid little town of sad-sack victims to the most lethally armed collection of mentally compromised teens in the wastes. That's just a sample of the kind of dumb shit I got up to. I made the Capital Wasteland my sandbox, and Bethesda provided me with all the right tools and set dressings to play in it. It is a rare and precious thing to lose yourself completely in a game, and Fallout 3 provided me with some of the most memorable and potent moments I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I want to feel that excitement again. Skyrim was great, but for as much fun as I had with its dragons and necromancers, a part of me was always wistful for the nuclear ashes of America circa 2277. Obsidian’s New Vegas was a good dose for keeping the shakes at bay, with some welcome mechanics that made soft-skills more important and some colorful characters (all hail “kai-sar”). But its endless brown deserts and frustratingly lethal wildlife left me cold. It felt like the game was always trying to punish me for going off the beaten trail and trying to explore it like the Capital Wasteland. I want to see what the A-team can do. I want to see what Bethesda has learned from Skyrim, what ideas it can poach from New Vegas, and what it'll leave on the cutting-room floor. I want to return to the wasteland, see what kind of stories it has left to tell, what kind of characters are still rattling around in the grave of the old world. I'm hungry for it, ready to chomp down on any scrap of news, hell, I'd be happy even for the meager crumbs of a teaser trailer, anything. It's been almost seven years since Fallout 3 came out and Bethesda has been stubbornly, frustratingly silent about the future of the series. Will the studio finally have something to say about it this GDC? Doubtful. But at this point, I have no choice but to hope.
Fallout 4 hopes photo
The wait is worse than the radioactive cannibals
GDC is here, and as is the case with any big trade show or splashy industry event, I'll be on tenterhooks waiting to hear the one piece of news I care about -- When is Fallout 4 going to happen? For years I've expected the an...

Pillars of Eternity photo
Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity set to release on March 26

New game content livestreaming today on Twitch
Jan 15
// Rob Morrow
Obsidian Entertainment's massively successful crowdfunded role-playing game Pillars of Eternity has been given a worldwide release date of March 26. Weighing in at around $4.5 million raised in backer pledges and pre-purchase...
Obsidian photo

Pillars of Eternity delayed for polish and feedback

Another game now slated for 2015
Oct 02
// Jordan Devore
Obsidian Entertainment's next big role-playing game, Pillars of Eternity, won't make it in time for a late 2014 release as previously planned. It's now set for an early 2015 launch, with the extended schedule going toward inc...
Pillars of Eternity Beta photo
Pillars of Eternity Beta

Pillars of Eternity 'Backer Beta' available now for Windows

Well-heeled Kickstarter backers get an early glimpse of Obsidian Entertainment's RPG
Aug 20
// Rob Morrow
If you ponied up the money necessary for the Pillars of Eternity Collector's Edition, then Obsidian Entertainment has great news for you! Available now, through Steam, these select few can download the "Backer Beta" for the W...
Please stop photo
Please stop

Armored Warfare is a videogame about armored warfare

Moratorium on the words 'armor' and 'war' in game titles
May 29
// Steven Hansen
Advanced Armored Warface Frame Fighter is the new tank game from Obsidian, which I guess means it plays a lot like Resident Evil 1-3, except that it's free-to-play and has a less good name. Armored Warfare is so vague yet st...
South Park photo
South Park

South Park: The Stick of Truth gets its first DLC pack

It's just costumes, don't get excited
Apr 02
// Chris Carter
South Park: The Stick of Truth turned out to be absolutely worth the wait multiple times over, and now you can grab some costume DLC for it. First up is the Super Samurai Spaceman pack for $1.99, which offers up the thre...
Armored Warfare photo
Armored Warfare

Obsidian's Armored Warfare takes a spin at the tank genre

A free-to-play MMO with modern tanks
Mar 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Obsidian is probably the last company you'd expect to make anything like Armored Warfare, a free-to-play MMO tank shooter. It's certainly different than anything the company has brought us in the past, that's for sure. I got ...
Skyforge preview photo
Skyforge preview

Skyforge has the potential to be the next big MMO

You get to become a god and fight other gods
Mar 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
There's something about Skyforge that's kind of unbelievable. It's an MMO that's doing away with the multi-server issues by having millions playing together on one server, visuals are highly detailed putting in on-par with cu...

Obsidian helping develop an MMORPG where you play as gods

A sci-fi fantasy MMORPG
Mar 20
// Hamza CTZ Aziz is a newly launched subsidiary of Mail.Ru Group that's working on a number of game projects, such the just announced MMO Armored Warfare, and MMO racer World of Speed. Another new project on their plate is Skyforge, a...

Armored Warfare is a new modern military tank shooter from Obsidian

New MMO tank shooter pushing into Wargaming's turf
Mar 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Armored Warfare is an upcoming modern military tank shooter for the PC that's being developed by Obsidian, the studio that brought us South Park: The Stick of Truth, Fallout: New Vegas, and much more. The debut trailer ...

Paradox is publishing Obsidian's new game, Pillars of Eternity

Mar 18 // Steven Hansen
Obsidian also released a comprehensive FAQ on its forum for its Kickstarter backers. "Simply put, Paradox is assuming responsibility for the marketing and distribution of Pillars of Eternity. What this means is that Obsidian can now devote all of their time and resources to the development of Pillars of Eternity and make the game the best it can be." "We like when developers try to go crazy with things," Wester said during the announcement. "When I played South Park: The Stick of Truth, I laughed at a game for the first time in 20 years, probably since Monkey Island." The partnership makes a lot of sense and could yield great things with future Obsidian projects.
New Obsidian game photo
Pillar? I hardly even know her!
Paradox Interactive, makers of grand strategy games (Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings) and Magicka, are teaming up with Obsidian (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Fallout: New Vegas) for their new RPG, Pillars of Eternity. O...

South Park development photo
South Park development

South Park creators worked on Stick of Truth 'until the bitter end'

Crying symbol of Europe
Mar 12
// Steven Hansen
When South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided they wanted to make a game, Obsidian was on their list. "We got this phone call about 'hey do we want to talk to the South Park guys?' and we were like, 'Yeah, right...
South Park photo
South Park

South Park: The Stick of Truth censorship 'not that big a deal,' says Matt Stone

They got the last laugh
Mar 07
// Jordan Devore
Speaking to The Guardian about South Park: The Stick of Truth's censorship in Europe and Australia over a scene involving anal probes, series co-creator Matt Stone said "It's not that big a deal. It doesn't change things that...

Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Mar 04 // Chris Carter
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Obsidian Entertainment, South Park Digital StudiosPublisher: UbisoftReleased:  March 4, 2014MSRP: $59.99 After a Rankin/Bass-style cartoon opening narrated by Cartman, the quest begins. The setup is that you're the "new kid" in town -- a silent protagonist and chosen one not unlike Link in the Legend of Zelda series sworn to protect the Stick of Truth (literally a wooden stick) from the elves (other kids with pointy ears glued onto their heads). It was immediately after the surprisingly detailed character creator that I fell in love -- The Stick of Truth is basically one giant episode of the show, and the details are astounding. Cutscenes play out like you're watching South Park on TV, and if anyone happened to come along and watch you playing it, they wouldn't know any better. Now I see why creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker took so long to write the game, as the staggering amount of dialog and animation could fill an entire season. Pretty much every facet of the game is true to the source material, from the soundtrack, to the voices, to the signature chime that plays when every episode starts and the kids are waiting for the bus to arrive. The humor doesn't feel over the top at first, but with time, it gets just as crude as some of the most controversial episodes of the show. There are plenty of poop and fart jokes as well as your typical Cartman antics ("A white thief? Never heard of one"), but eventually, you start moving into abortion and anal probing territory, as well as finding dildos named "black thunder." To be incredibly specific, at one point in the game you can summon Mr. Slave to shove a kindergartner up his ass. Yep, this is South Park alright. [embed]270875:52759:0[/embed] There are tons of little Easter eggs for fans of the show to enjoy, like "Vote or Die" and "Fingerbang" playing on the radio, the "Move Along Sir" guy, an AWESOME-O suit in Cartman's closet, and tiny junk item references like S'more Schnapps bottles. I can't stress enough how much more you'll enjoy this game if you love the series. So how does Stick of Truth's actual gameplay work? Well, you'll roam around just like a typical RPG (with fast travel in tow, compliments of Timmy), discover loot, find some quests for your quest log, and complete the main story along the way. Fans will dig the chance to see practically every main character's house, and not since 1997's Virtual Springfield have I felt a sense of wonderment exploring a cartoon world. It's kind of surreal how many details are present in the town of South Park. Combat also is initiated in real time, with enemies visible on-screen -- there are no random encounters. The actual fights are turn-based, hilariously explained by the fact that although you are technically at war with other kids, you still "have to wait your turn" because it's a game. The whole affair is a bit more interactive than your typical turn-based RPG though, since offensive and defensive maneuvers feature timed button presses for emphasis -- similar to Super Mario RPG. Basically, you can press a button to add extra attacks, modify your strikes, or add magic damage to them. Abilities are even more interactive, and some of them involve twirling your analog stick around in a circle to swing a hammer, or pressing a button at the exact right moment to hit a baseball into an opponent's face. The entire theme of the attacks not only hearken back to Mario RPG, but EarthBound as well, which is a good feeling. It's also funny to see elementary school kids run away and threaten to tell their moms for beating them up. Having said that, don't expect a lot from the combat system in general. You won't get a whole lot of abilities to mess around with, the magic system is very rudimentary (which is based on farts), and fights are extremely easy -- even boss encounters. You won't really have to modify your strategy at all during them, which kind of takes you out of the moment from time to time once you realize how shallow fights are. Quests also aren't all that exciting in theory, since many of them are of the fetch variety. But the key is that like the battle system, they're elevated by the game's charm and faithfulness to the show. Although you'll level up in combat by way of a typical experience system, I really like the incentive to meet new people and friend them on Facebook to earn perks (all in-game, of course). Perks are relatively straightforward with bonuses like "extra melee damage" or "more resistance to debuffs," but it's incredibly fun to seek people out, as it incentivizes you to truly explore the game. In addition to a metric-ton of sidequests, you can also search the world for scattered Chinpokomon collectibles, collect extra loot, and find hidden areas. Sometimes, I would spend hour-long sessions just walking around and interacting with people on the world map, trying to find secrets. Occasionally I encountered a glitch like a framerate stutter or something that didn't trigger properly, but in my personal experience it wasn't game-breaking -- just a minor annoyance. If you don't watch South Park that often, you most likely won't enjoy The Stick of Truth as much as someone who does. The RPG elements are very serviceable but they're not going to satiate most of the hardcore genre fans out there. It's a good thing then that the rest of the package is filled with so much care from the show's creators, that it makes it something truly special.
South Park reviewed photo
Better than a trip to Casa Bonita
It's hard to believe that I've been watching South Park for almost 17 years. I vividly remember sneaking downstairs in the dead of night, quietly turning on Comedy Central to watch Eric Cartman get probed by an alien. I ...

South Park photo
South Park

Learn how to protect your balls in Stick of Truth

Clyde needs a good ass-kickin'
Feb 14
// Brett Makedonski
We're less than three weeks away from the release of South Park: The Stick of Truth, but I'm not sure I can wait that long. Between Alessandro's preview and this video showing the first 13 minutes of the game, I'm all aflust...

Preview: South Park: The Stick of Truth is ambitious

Feb 14 // Alessandro Fillari
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC [previewed])Developer: Obsidian EntertainmentPublisher: UbisoftRelease date: March 4, 2014 (US) / March 7, 2014 (EU)Opening with a parody of Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of The Rings, in full rotoscope style, South Park: The Stick of Truth tells the tale of the war between humans and elves; both vying to claim the power of...The Stick of Truth. Of course, this is all just an exaggeration, as the war is really just a game played by the kids of the neighborhood. When a new kid moves into the town of South Park, Cartman takes him under his wing and tasks him with protecting the Stick of Truth in their 'game' against the elves. But in South Park fashion, things quickly escalate out of control and a fairly harmless rivalry is turned into an epic quest with real consequences.Now, the South Park series hasn't had much luck in the gaming department, and understandably so. It's very difficult to translate the over-the-top and comedic sensibilities to a game without making it into something that it's not. Even though I was kind of fond of the N64 title, it wasn't really a game worthy of the series. Because of this, the minds behind the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, were very adamant to be hands-on with the development.Speaking with Jordan Thomas, creative director for BioShock 2, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and serving as a creative consultant on The Stick of Truth -- he spoke about the title's development and how the theme of play is something the creators wanted to focus on when writing the game's script."If you look at South Park, there's always been a love affair with games that's evident in their storytelling...that the characters have a fetishistic mysticism regarding gaming," said Jordan Thomas, recalling the television series' use of videogames. "The creators would not have allowed the game to be just a joke vehicle, they wanted a proper game."Instead of taking on the role of one of the established characters, players will create a unique character who is the new kid on the block. As this New Kid, players will forge alliances and come into conflict with others while making a name for themselves in South Park and its surrounding areas.Of course, comedy is the backbone of South Park -- and The Stick of Truth pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to its humor. As a videogame, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and the developers at Obsidian were able to craft a story that parodies many tropes and cliches of the medium, while at the same time creating something that speaks to the themes of engagement, play, and obsession in ways that could only be done in a game.Much like the television series and film, The Stick of Truth covers the whole gamut of pop culture, politics, religion, and life in an unusual small town. And the transition to a game has not neutered its humor one bit. My hour with the game made me realize that this is likely the raunchiest South Park has ever been. Swearing is uncensored, and yes there is nudity, and so much more.Over the course of your adventure, players will come across places and situations referencing abortions, race relations, anal probes, drug addiction, sex, extreme violence, and poverty, just to name a small few. It has enough satirical bite that it'll likely leave a lasting impression on many. But of course, this is South Park, and feeling uncomfortable is nothing unexpected."The way we looked at [humor] was if this moment was a hot button for the audience, should we make it worse, because they [creators of South Park] love to push boundaries and their default response was definitely not to back down, but the really healthy counterbalance was, can we make it funnier -- and the answer was often yes," said Jordan Thomas. "It was definitely the right amount of pressure. In my eyes, [South Park] explores topics that makes people uncomfortable, and it does so above all out of love and truth."The Stick of Truth incorporates many elements of fantasy fiction and RPG gameplay, while re-appropriating it for its own humor and style. When players enter the realm of 'Kupa Keep,' which is just Cartman's backyard with crude signs and dressing, they're brought into the conflict between the factions. From here, players will be able to define their character and choose their class. Despite players being able to name their character, Cartman and the others will henceforth refer to the New Kid as 'Douchebag."Character growth and evolution is conducted through a standard leveling and class system. Battles yield experience points and loot, and leveling up allows players to spend skill points across the various class trees. Though don’t expect anything extremely intricate. While you do have options, don’t go in thinking you can make rich variations of each character class. In The Stick of Truth, the classes cover the standard fantasy archetypes, but with a twist. There's the Fighter, Mage, and Thief, and last but not least, the Jew.The Jew class, which is illustrated with an evil-looking sorcerer character card, allows players to focus on long-range and sniping abilities to weaken, debilitate, and otherwise undermine your enemy's strengths from afar. Moreover, the Jew utilizes special abilities in 'Jew-Jitsu' and another skill known as the Sling of David, which allows players to cast the first stone against their enemies and stun those out of distance.Obviously, I decided to roll the Jew class for my character, Sir Douchebag (and so did everyone else at this event, by the way). From here, we learn the ins and outs of combat. On the surface, it looks to be a standard turn-based RPG game in the vein of Final Fantasy, and while that is true, the core combat takes a far more action-oriented and dynamic approach to engaging your foes. Players will be able to partner with other characters, such as Cartman, Stan, Butters, Kyle, and many others from the series in during battles, and many of them possess their own unique skills and abilities.During battles, offense and defense require timed button presses to maximize effectiveness. For instance, weapon attacks come in both basic and power versions. When attacking, your characters will ready themselves and pressing the attack buttons at the moment when the weapon flashes will enable the specified move. Basic attacks allow for combos, each hit requiring timed presses, and power attacks allow for a one-hit strong attack against enemies. Each has its uses and is required for specific enemies. Heavy armored enemies can be weakened through combo attacks, and power attacks can break through enemies carrying shields.Though be warned, enemies use the same skills as you do, and that's where blocking comes in. When enemies attack, a small shield icon will appear below your party members. This prompts you to press the action button to diminish the effectiveness of their attacks. Success also allows players to restore PP (yes, there's a joke for this), which power your special skills in battle. Blocking is especially important when facing foes who use attacks with status effects attached. For instance, bleeding drains character health over time, and cannot be healed unless you have special potions.I found myself really enjoying the combat. It's definitely a much more dynamic, but still tactical approach to turn-based combat. The action-oriented approach reminded me of combat from the games like Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga or Paper Mario, which really stressed that battles are not a spectator sport. I felt very active during every battle, and as enemies populate the environments during exploration, you can expect to see a lot of action. Battles can be pretty challenging, even early ones. I was overwhelmed by a group of elves at one point and was wiped out after missing the timing on blocks from a group of archers.Though it may all seem like fun and games when battling kids with fake elf ears, things eventually get real when you start battling other foes in South Park; such as Meth Heads looking to protect their stash, overzealous rent-a-cops who aren't afraid to use pepper-spray on children, and creepy territorial hobos. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.One feature that the creators of South Park wanted was allowing fans to explore the town freely, while meeting many of the series characters, and getting into trouble along the way.  "You're going to visit the town, properly," said Thomas as he elaborated on the exploration design. "There are few limits placed, which use Metroidvania-style unlocking, but there's a lot to explore, and around a lot more places around the town as well."Scattered around the town are NPC characters going about their business, and also a variety of shops, where you can buy new equipment, items, and special buffs for your characters. In Metroidvania style, players can explore the area at their leisure, but some areas are blocked off by obstacles and and obstructions that require special abilities. Interaction with the environment is a key part of gameplay during traversal and puzzle solving. Players will be able to uncover hidden paths and chests while examining and attacking obstacles. Moreover, new abilities open that allow players to activate switches from a distance, destroy obstacles with your farts, and use your other party members and friends to uncover clues and take out groups of enemies without even entering battle. I was pretty pleased with how detailed the settings were, but at times I had difficulty finding  certain objects for quests, as they blended in too well with other decorations in the background. Exploring the town of South Park felt surreal, and extremely authentic. In many ways, it felt like I was watching an episode of South Park showing off a really demented and comical parody of EarthBound, except I was actually playing it. The comparisons to EarthBound and other JRPG titles were no coincidence, as they were a major influence for the writers of the series and folks at Obsidian. They really nailed the look and feel of the TV series, as there were moments during cutscenes I'd stop playing, and then I'd have to remind myself that I was playing a game after some time passed.There are many incentives for taking time out from the main quests to explore and get to know the exact layout of the town, which is a first for South Park. Many familiar places, such as the South Park Elementary, South Park Mall, Bijou Cinema, City Wok, Tweek Bros. Coffehouse, and many others are available for players to come across and explore.Another reward for the exploration is meeting other characters, who friend you on the social media site, Facebook. Yes, this is a full on parody of Facebook and they don't even shy away from the absurdity of social media. Character's can even comment on your 'page' making jokes and mocking your performance. Your Facebook page also serves as your main menu, possessing journals, inventory, and acquiring more friends will gradually unlock special points which can be used to buy special perks to strengthen your character's abilities.Many of the characters and creatures you encounter during your quest are referenced throughout the television series, and even the most political and controversial of characters will likely make an appearance. In one instance, I came into contact with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore who needed help with tracking the fabled ManBearPig, as it was stalking the citizens of South Park. This scene totally came out of nowhere, I felt the sudden urge to drop whatever I was doing and do what he asked. How can you say no to Al Gore? Everyone involved with the game seemed pretty much on the same page. One of the key takeaways from both the creators of the television series and the developers at Obsidian, and Jordan Thomas, was the desire to make South Park: The Stick of Truth the definitive South Park experience, across all media.And judging from my time with the title, they certainly have made something unique to the series, that will speak to fan's love for the franchise. While there are some rather obvious bugs that will hopefully be ironed out, such my character being permanently being stuck in the aiming stance during exploration, and some issues with items not being clear enough to identify in the field, I came away pretty pleased with what I played.It's looking like the game was definitely worth the wait. While the developers certainly didn't have to worry about raising the bar for South Park games, which was pretty low as it was, they've definitely made something that speaks to fans of the show, and might even earn the attention of some RPG fans in the process.
South Park photo
One does not simply walk into South Park
So, where were you when South Park: The Stick of Truth was announced? This was all the way back in 2011, around the time another certain RPG title was on the minds of players. It was certainly a surprising reveal, don't you t...

Stick of Truth photo
Stick of Truth

Stick of Truth goes gold, Trey and Matt weigh in

It's happening, guys! It's really happening!
Feb 12
// Brett Makedonski
You know what's dumb? Stories about games going gold. Oh cool, a game's done and will be available to the public. That happens all the time. Stupid. However, with South Park: The Stick of Truth, it feels a bit more substanti...
Stick of Truth photo
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Stick of Truth Achievements have you 'join the KKK'

Also, farting on a whole lot of people
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The Achievement / Trophies list for South Park: The Stick of Truth have just been uncovered, and it looks like "New Kid on the Block", what seems to be the very first one you'll earn, is for joining the KKK. Well then, ...

It's the return of Mr. Hankey in The Stick of Truth

Feb 02 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
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Three new commericials for the South Park game
This ad for South Park: The Stick of Truth just debuted during today's Super Bowl game against the sports team that are sporting for the most sports. It's pretty tame, but does show off some plot points like the return of a ...

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