Review by Shinnokxz
"Oh my God! They made an average game! Those bastards!"
One might recall the peak of South Park's popularity back in late 1999. With its crude foursome of eight-year young fourth graders, it kept soccer moms furious and their kids wanting more of the irrelevant cuss words and racy comments. A game was inevitable, but how it was handled was in Acclaim's court. Originally being released in 1999 for the N64, SP was a game that had a sizeable fan-base behind it. That is, before it was released. It was hyped up, but it was released to moderate reviews.
The premise of SP is simple, and in the end it ends up being standard FPS (first person shooter) fare. A comet, rushing towards the redneck town of South Park, Colorado, is causing strange things to occur in the sleepy town. Mutant turkey's, killer clones, and possessed cows reign supreme, and it is up to the only sane inhabitants of the town-- Eric Cartman, Kyle Brovsloski, Stan Marsh, and the late Kenny McCormick-- to get to the bottom of things.
SP is your standard first person shooter. In many cases, this may not be a problem. Using the WASD+Mouse setup to move around and strafe (customizable controls, if that setup doesn't float your gravy), and the other maneuverable basics: Jump, crouch, etc. You go about each lengthy battleground collecting weapons, killing foes, and gaining ground within the epic story.
I suppose I should start off with the environments you cruise around in. It goes without saying that each level is disguised with those cartoony/flat SP visuals we all seem to know and love; with the addition of putting the town into complete 3D. Cliffs, snow, and ultimately--fog. There is lot's of fog in these huge environments. Playing through the game, I could never clearly gather if the fog was a technical drawback or a game play element. Either way, it tends to be a nuisance. Ninety percent of the game takes place outside. This means that you are wandering around this flat snowfield-- littered with random trees and caves that house small units of health-- surrounded by fog... hopelessly lost due to the lackluster and dodgy radar. To top off with a cherry, you're probably going to be being chased down the whole time like an escapee from an insane asylum by a few bloodthirsty cows.
If you're able to see past the spotty level design, then SP may be something you might want to keep an eye out for. The weapon selection is a comical mix of snowballs, pissballs, sniper chickens, fart grenades, toilet plunger gun, etc. The weapons are worth playing through for just for their humor, granted you don't use any cheats, as they and their ammo are intelligently placed and they always work when you're in a sticky situation. Who would've thought using a chicken's ass as a sniper could be so affective? Pure genius!
Comedy doesn't stop at the artillery, though. Your leading troop of boys have a quite the mouths on them themselves, spouting off random vulgar and offensive slogans that all SP fans should recognize. Hearing Cartman call a flock of insane turkeys ''Tree huggin' hippies'' is something you can't help but to grin at. Of course, this laugh-inducing game play gimmick quickly becomes more annoying then funny, as the boys spout the same four or five phrases in repetition.
The AI is as primitive as you can get, with enemies that are as cunning as a sack of rocks. Once you're in sight, the cows/turkeys/clones/aliens will just give it their go without much strategy. Killing them is just as straightforward as well, but the sheer quantity of them will what uproot the challenge. They all seem to attack you with their hoard of enemies in a straight line, so the instinct you get is just to walk backwards and shoot anything you have into the head cow, until eventually the line dwindles. This leads to you getting lost in the vast areas, adding to the irritation.
As I stated before, SP contains all the flat 2D cartoon feel and flaps that into a 3D modeler. The result? A mixed bag. Though bounds better than the N64 port-- with higher resolution and brighter colors-- it still leaves the player wanting a little more. The only visually impressive thing about it was the opening on the first level in which you stroll about the familiar monuments of the town South Park-- with Tom's Rhinoplasty and City Hall-- to go find the rest of the other boys (something you'll have to do at the start of each level). This is only useful for holding more items; more hands mean more guns and ammo. Once you venture out of the town, you'll happen into levels of boring snow-filled plains with cliff walls just barely within the field of vision, guiding you through the vast amount of valleys and fog.
Then beyond that, the only cosmetic stimulation you'll get from the game is coming from the mediocre audio department. Monotonous turkey gabbling--something you'll be hearing at a constant rate during the entire first level-- aside, the upbeat tunes are a nice touch that sounds like it fits into the SP theme. Of course, you can only enjoy the music to an extent, as the constant gobble of enemy sound bits wreck havoc in your eardrums. You haven't heard anything until you start throwing snowballs at the gigantic clones.
The only thing left to explore is the disappointing multiplayer mode. There are only a mere fifteen levels, which are incredibly small and are incredibly basic in design. For example: you'll start your fragmatch on a big football field with random school buses littered around the environment. Coupled with the unfortunate fact of the game NEVER having any servers up online cripples it of any multiplayer fun. It's fun for a few minutes via LAN, but there is so much more that offers so much better.
As long as you have the current drivers to the main components of your computer up-to-date, and you have at least 64MB of SDRam, 8MB video card, and a 400+ Mhz computer, you shouldn't have much of a problem when running SP with only rare occurrences of dips in frame rate.
And that's pretty much all the game has to offer. The mixture of huge long spanning levels with dull straightforward playing mechanics leave the player in a state of mind-numbing boringness. Nonetheless, gamers might enjoy the physics of South Park integrated into a FPS design... that is, for the first few levels. -Shin (2/3/2003)
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 02/03/03, Updated 05/19/03
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