Possibly because of this dubious history, it has been a fairly long time since the South Park license appeared on the consoles. One rightfully wonders what Trey Parker and Matt Stone have in store for us after all this time. Did they license Rockstar's RAGE game engine to create GTA IV in the town of South Park? Did they go the Heavy Rain route, where you play as four separate characters, solving the mystery of who killed Kenny? Or did they finally fulfill every childhood fantasy by filling the gap in the long neglected tower defense co-op tradition?
Well as you might have gathered from the title, it was the latter game style they choose after nine long years in the gaming wilderness. As South Park's very own Darryl Weathers might say W.T.F.?
Well it so happens I do like South Park and I like Tower Defense games (if my hard drive is any indication), and yet I have to admit trepidation. So is this game a perfect fit? Well let me answer that in the old fashioned game we call The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Well for starters it definitely could have been worse. This isn't shovelware. There are 15 playable characters all with separate special abilities (16 with a promotional code), 15 types of enemies all with special vulnerabilities, Bosses, different towers, you name it. The game captures the look of South Park perfectly down to Eric Cartman's little wobble when he walks.
While the game captures the look of the show it certainly doesn't capture the feel of the show. Catchphrases are repeated endlessly; and since they are out of context they are barely funny the first time they are used. Ginger kids and Mongolians might be funny enemies in the context of an episode, but do nothing here. One would have hoped the South Park team would have taken their crude wit towards videogame conventions (As many of the Simpson's games did a generation ago), but alas all they provide is series of fuzzy unlockable clips and unfunny gags.
This is not a terribly good tower defense game. Actually as a one player tower defense game it is basically broken. Tower defense games are a little like Breakout. They are the kind of games you play to relax when no-one else is around. Now let us say that somebody came out with four player Breakout co-op. Yes that does sound stupid as all get out, but follow along with me.
Now in four player Breakout you have four colored paddles and four colored balls. (And much like my idea for a Syfy movie where the shark has bear claws, I will hunt anyone down who actually makes this.) Now imagine that the one player version of the game still had the four colored paddles and four colored balls and made you switch between paddles to play... yeah that would get ugly real quick.
And South Park Let's Go Defense Tower does get ugly quick. Unlike other co-op games, such as Left 4 Dead, the computer does not take over the role of the other three characters in solo play. In addition, unlike say Borderlands, there is no option to just play with just one character. As a result you have to spend an inordinate amount of time switching between characters in single player. If you have even a passing affinity with Tower Defense games, you will know that there is enough running around as it is, with the upgrading of towers, putting up walls, excreta. Throwing four player controlled characters into the mix makes early levels difficult and later levels impossible.
The idea that four friends would pick a tower defense game over say Left 4 Dead, Borderlands or Hungry Hungry Hippos strains credulity. This is simply a party game with one rather difficult party. On that note if you and your friends are tower defense fanatics, South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play provides the first (and God willing only) co-op tower defense game experience.