South Park: The Stick of Truth

A decent RPG wrapped up in a grossly hilarious licence, South Park will be remembered more for its gags than its gameplay.

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FeatureYour fondest Obsidian game memories

"My favourite was shooting Darcy in the bollocks."

In September we asked you to share your favourite moments from an Obsidian game and we, on behalf of Paradox, dangled prizes in front of you in return: consoles for the two winners, PC Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny keys for the 10 runners-up. And you answered in your droves.

Inside Obsidian: How RPG's greatest survivors kept the lights on

"They say the path to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Over the years, I've come to know what to expect from Obsidian, or so I thought. Obsidian makes RPGs, beautiful, intriguing, sometimes slightly shonky RPGs with great writing and vivid characters and just a lingering trace of thriftiness. They make games where the concepts, where the soul, trumps the budget.

FeatureRummaging through Obsidian's drawer of game ideas

Star Wars! Snow White! Prey 2! Warhammer 40K! "There's tons of them."

Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.

Stormlands and the million-man raid: Obsidian's cancelled Xbox One exclusive

FeatureStormlands and the million-man raid: Obsidian's cancelled Xbox One exclusive

"That deal was the largest contract we ever signed."

Throw your mind back to Microsoft sharing a dream of an infinitely powerful Xbox One cloud, a box under your TV able to suck an almost mystical power into your living room, transforming games as we know them. The vision wouldn't quite materialise, but while Microsoft was hallucinating over the cauldron it was also throwing money around - throwing money at Xbox One exclusives to embody this future, and Obsidian Entertainment was spinning in its pot.

"We were given a proposal, the million-man raid," Obsidian co-owner and CEO, Feargus Urquhart, tells me. "Conceptually what came from Microsoft was this idea: imagine you're playing The Witcher, maybe with a friend. What happens if at points in time a giant creature pops up that you can see in the distance and it's not just popping up while you're playing, it's popping up for everybody who's playing. You all rush this creature and there's this haze around it, and as you're all rushing through the haze the game is matchmaking you into 40-man raids who are going to fight the creature.

"Then you fight it, but while the creature is being fought all the footage is being recorded up into the cloud. Then at the end we would come up with some kind of intelligent editing thing which would deliver everybody who fought a personalised, edited video of their participation in the raid. That is what was proposed to us."

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With the penultimate season of Game of Thrones finished on TV and a colossal amount of people talking about it, it's hard to imagine any video game maker ever passing up the opportunity to get a piece of that franchise pie. But as I found out recently, Obsidian Entertainment did - it turned down Game of Thrones.

I had no idea things at Obsidian Entertainment had been so bad. I knew things weren't great before the record-breaking Project Eternity Kickstarter campaign, but I didn't realise that game had saved the company - that without it the studio would have closed.

FeatureSouth Park: It all started with a suspected prank call

A remarkable collaboration, as told by Obsidian.

Feargus Urquhart, the leader of Obsidian Entertainment, was playing through that alien probing scene in his studio's game, South Park: The Stick of Truth, the evening before a meeting with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The next morning he'd have to go and talk to them about censoring it.

Oh my god, Obsidian made a game that wasn't a 7/10! As much as I love the studio behind such unpolished gems as Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas, I'm as pleasantly surprised as anybody that South Park: The Stick of Truth delivers the goods. True, it's a little shaky in places, but its got it where it counts: namely, it's the perfect vessel for the free-wheeling, foul-mouthed humour of the long-running TV series.

South Park: The Stick of Truth review

As the credits roll on South Park: The Stick of Truth, the big question isn't why Ubisoft would choose to censor certain scenes for tender European eyes, but how they censored it. This is a game that doesn't so much cross the line as utterly erase it in a blitzkrieg of piss, poop, farts, profanity and over-the-top violence. In the midst of such gleefully offensive mayhem, working out how far constitutes "too far" is an utterly pointless exercise.

It is, in other words, an absolutely note-perfect adaptation of the legendarily scatological TV show into an interactive form. Previous South Park games have imitated the crass humour and borrowed the catchphrases, but missed the deeper layers of satire and the odd sweetness that binds the foul-mouthed whole together. Characters said familiar things, farts were farted, but the dirty, witty soul was missing.

With creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone fully on board as both writers and voice performers, that certainly isn't an issue with The Stick of Truth. From the script upwards this is a true continuation of the show - an epic spin-off story that could just as easily have been a movie sequel to Bigger, Longer, Uncut. Rather than loosely draping a South Park skin over a generic game, developer Obsidian has created a South Park story that just happens to be a role-playing game.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth censored in Europe

Ubisoft: "this was a market decision."

Ubisoft has censored the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of 18-rated comedy role-playing game South Park: The Stick of Truth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The PC version remains unaffected.

On Wednesday 16 October 2013, South Park hit the headlines across numerous entertainment channels and hard-news outlets when the long-running TV show missed its scheduled air-date for the first time in its history. For over a decade, Messrs Parker and Stone had been turning around episodes of their Comedy Central staple in just six days, pulling off the kind of deadline-baiting that would drive mere mortal writers to mental collapse and, by doing so, ensuring that their parodic social commentary remained on the nose and in line with the week's events.

South Park RPG release date tweaked to 7th March

South Park RPG release date tweaked to 7th March

Arriving on a disc, not a Cartman.

Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth "comedy role-playing game" will be released on 7th March, publisher Ubisoft's latest release schedule revealed.

We had been preparing for 4th March, but that's a Tuesday, the day games typically launch in the US - unless they're gigantosauruses, in which case they often carry a 'global' date.

In the UK games launch on a Friday, and 7th March is a Friday.

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THQ is no more. This is where its assets went

UPDATE: Platinum Games is interested in Darksiders.

Update #4: Does IP changing hands equal upheaval? Does upheaval equal game delay? Obsidian's South Park: Stick of Truth was due in March. Is it still? "It's too soon to say," Ubisoft told me this afternoon. "We'll have more details to share about plans for specific games soon."

FeatureActual New Games of 2013

More wonder, more awe.

New IPs, we're told, aren't really feasible at the tail-end of a generation, so it's heartening to sit down and discover that a sizeable part of the games industry is sticking its tongues out at the likes of Yves Guillemot and Peter Moore; 2013's looking like it's going to be an absolutely stellar year for Actual New Games.

South Park: The Stick of Truth gets Xbox 360 exclusivity

Xbox 360 pre-order bonuses, timed DLC exclusivity and Kinect functionality also in-bound. Also: release date!

A release date for Obsidian's South Park RPG has been announced, and THQ has announced a brace of pre-order incentives exclusive to the Xbox 360 version of the game.

THQ denies cancelling 2014 line-up of games

THQ denies cancelling 2014 line-up of games

But Warhammer 40K MMO future less certain.

THQ has denied cancelling its 2014 line-up of games - but the future of ambitious Warhammer 40,000 MMO Dark Millennium Online is less certain.

The publisher responded to a gloomy rumour spread on Twitter by video game executive Kevin Dent. He heard that the Warhammer 40,000 MMO and the THQ 2014 line-up had been cancelled. Dent had also heard THQ was "offering" itself for sale to Asian companies.

THQ's response, via a statement offered to VG247, read: "THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up, and has not made any decisions regarding the planned MMO.

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Obsidian's South Park RPG detailed

Uses Dungeon Siege 3 engine, Parker and Stone writing script.

A few salient gameplay details regarding Obsidian's recently announced South Park RPG have slipped out.

Fallout: New Vegas dev announces South Park RPG

Fallout: New Vegas dev announces South Park RPG

Potty-mouthed adventure on PS3, Xbox 360 next year.

Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian is working on a South Park RPG for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

As revealed by GameInformer, franchise creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are writing the script and overseeing development, with THQ publishing.

Plot details are scarce, but apparently you'll be playing as the new kid in town, charged with making friends and protecting South Park from as-yet-undefined threats.

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