South Park Review

The license goes a long way to keep the game and story interesting, but it's frustrating that the game itself wasn't better.

As soon as South Park became the best thing that Comedy Central had going, it was easy to figure out that someone would quickly hop on the bandwagon and develop a game based on the cartoon. That someone is Acclaim, and its game is a weird little first-person shooter based on the Turok 2 engine. While the game may not stand on its own merits, this is one case where a licenses has actually been used to enhance a game, rather than remind you how bad the game is and how good the source material was.

Rather than stick with existing voice work, Acclaim produced custom speech with Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Isaac Hayes, so the storyline is properly voiced throughout the game. The speech really goes a long way to making the story (a comet is passing near South Park, wackiness ensues) interesting. Each episode is broken up into a few sublevels. The enemies usually remain the same from sublevel to sublevel and change entirely between levels. The first episode forces you to deal with hundreds of insane turkeys, while the second pits you against hundreds of mutant clones. The enemies change, but the game pretty much remains the same. You, as one of the four kids, pick up the other three kids in the first level. From there, you have a couple levels packed with the enemy du jour as well as larger versions of enemies called tanks, which generate the smaller monsters. Occasionally, you'll get tossed into a level where you must destroy several tanks very quickly to keep them from destroying South Park. Then, you'll face the level's boss, save the town from destruction, get to hear Chef talk about how good you are, and move on. The game also has four-player multiplayer, but the weapons, level design, and movement really don't lend themselves very well to the multiplayer game.

Speaking of level design, it's really not very good on its own, but given the license, it at least makes sense. You'll spend a good portion of your time in extremely large, open areas, such as the middle of the street, large fields, and the like. This leads to a very close horizon, complete with loads of pop-up. Sure, it's a cold, snowy Colorado town, so visibility is naturally low, but it still gets in the way of the gameplay. So with the pop-up as bad as it is, you're forced to stare at your radar almost constantly.

The graphics aren't exactly spectacular, but they stick to the show's basic art style. It's still a little strange to see the kids in 3D instead of the paper cutouts used on the show. The game supports the expansion pack, and similar to Turok 2, it has a hi-res mode and a letterboxed hi-res mode. Without the pack, the resolution is really quite bad. The game's sound is mostly speech, and there's a wide variety of speech, which keeps the novelty of the kids' voices from getting tiresome. The only thing that really drones on is the enemies, which usually only have one or two noises. Even the mission briefings are fully spoken.

South Park is one of those games that seems fun for the first level or two, then quickly becomes a chore. Inching forward, pelting tons of enemies with your weaponry, and inching forward some more simply isn't much fun. The license goes a long way to keep the game and story interesting, but it's frustrating that the game itself wasn't better.

The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.