South Park: The Stick of Truth is essentially a really long movie or super long episode of the show, yet it has all of those gamey elements like collectibles, boss fights, and side quests. Not to mention, you don’t really see turn-based combat in the show that much either. When I first saw the game at SDCC in 2012, the combat elements looked to be slightly complicated (they really aren’t), so I silently prayed there would be a strategy guide to hold my hand through the process. It turns out that I really didn’t need the strategy guide for the combat, but for all of the collectibles and side quests the game had in store. The South Park: The Stick of Truth appeared to have everything I could want in a strategy guide, particularly since it was filled with South Park humor. However, it appears to be far more focused on being humorous than being helpful, which is kind of what strategy guides are for.
The strategy guide smacks you with the humor from the first page. I literally laughed out loud from opening the cover and seeing the table of contents, which lumped all of the appendices into the category of “Shit in the Back.” Some of the humor is subtle as well, hidden within a walkthrough paragraph or randomly mentioned in a call-out box.
No matter how much this strategy guide made me snicker or laugh out loud, the humor doesn’t make up for the fact that this is a poorly organized book that lacks a lot of important information.
The walkthrough section of the strategy guide is broken up into 3 parts: what you can find in each area, main quest walkthrough, and side quest walkthroughs. Usually when books break up sections into smaller pieces, these sub-categories are posted on the edge of the right page, which makes perusing through a strategy guide easier. With the South Park: The Stick of Truth strategy guide, these sub-categories will still tabbed as simply the main walkthrough section, so you couldn’t quickly flip through the book to find what you were looking for. Normally I wouldn’t care about something like that, but since I HAD to flip back and forth a lot due to the strategy guide’s next biggest problem, it grossly annoyed me.
The strategy guide walkthrough was abysmal in helping with collectibles. Sometimes the walkthrough told you where to pick up Chinpokomon or who to talk to to gain another Facebook friend in the main quest, but for anything off the beaten path, you had to consult the first part of the walkthrough section. With each area overview, all collectibles and how to get them are listed (although the info for friending Big Gay Al is incorrect). All collectibles need to be mentioned in the walkthrough somehow, whether it tells you to swing by Kyle’s house on your way to Stan’s house or something similar. And if you need a certain ability to pick up that collectible at a later time? It’s nice to mention that too.
Users are also out of luck if they want the main walkthrough to give them any sort of heads up on obtaining Achievements. Some Achievements are earned by wearing certain costumes to specific boss fights, which would be perfect for a little call-out box on the boss fight page. No such luck. The reader must look up these Achievements in the appendix first and either memorize them or bookmark them for later playthroughs.
But don’t count on the appendices to be rife with useful information either. The only really useful appendix is the Chinpokomon appendix, which lists all of the Chinpokomon and where as well as when they can be found. The appendices for the outfits and weapons, however, only list what each item is. Nowhere does it list where they can be found, which isn’t helpful for completionists. If you need to hunt down a particular outfit, your best bet is to try to search for it in the loot tables for each area, but not all are listed there either. I had to go online to find the Cheese outfit I missed, as this one isn’t mentioned in either the main quest or the area loot tables.
The lack of a friends list is the strategy guide’s worst transgression. The area section helped me pick up several friends that weren’t on the main or side quest paths, but there is no master list of all of the friends you can make in South Park and where to find them. If for nothing else, such a master list is vital for the “More Popular than John Lennon” Achievement, that I still did not earn after gaining 120 friends an online guide said I needed. Is it because I unfriended Al Gore in his side quest? The strategy guide should have given me a hint that if I want that Achievement, wait until post game to complete that quest. This could be a glitch in the game, but I have no idea, something that I should know as an owner of the strategy guide.
When it comes to the side quests and guidance with the main quest, the advice within the South Park: The Stick of Truth strategy guide is superb. I got turned around a few times in the alien spaceship and in the sewers, and the strategy guide was a great compass. The strategy guide also pointed me the right direction on the first try for finding and completing all of the side quests. I rarely wandered around aimlessly trying to find where I needed to go or if I could start a new side quest.
I get that the strategy guide for South Park: The Stick of Truth should be as funny as the game and the TV show, and I would have been a little disappointed if it didn’t implement some of the South Park schtick in the writing. But humor shouldn’t come before strategy and guidance, which kind of ruined the purpose for picking up a strategy guide. It’s definitely the funniest strategy guide I’ve ever owned, but it’s also one of the more useless strategy guides I’ve ever owned.
SGR Rating: 3.5/5
Author: Michael Searle
Publisher: Prima Games
Editions Available: Paperback
Acquired via Publisher