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They’re Coming Right For Us

south-park-tower-defense-gameplay-clipSome of us love it; others call it offensive and crass, but there’s no denying that South Park has proven one of the most successful TV comedy shows of recent years. The show has been running for thirteen years, longer than either Friends or Frasier (although it only has about twelve episodes a year, so less episodes in total than either show.) It’s also easily held its own against close rival Family Guy with the quality of the latter falling off of late while some may even say that South Park has improved with age. Nonetheless, it’s surprising that South Park hasn’t proven to be a bigger franchise, even taking into account several pieces of merchandising, a movie and some successful video games.

South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! is the latest such video game and after having a go at first-person shooters, party games and racing games, this time around the characters are seeing how they get on in a tower-defense style strategy, available now for download exclusively through XBox Live Arcade.

The town of South Park is under attack from all manner of evil creatures, including gingers, underpants gnomes and zombies and it falls to our four favourite pre-pubescent kids, Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman to protect the town across several levels, including the High School, their homes and Hell’s Pass Hospital. It’s up to the kids to take down the invading forces by throwing snowballs, building obstacles and putting defensive towers around the map, including lasers and fireworks.

6thgradehangout-perfect_waveOn each level, the kids have some time to set up their defense before the invasion begins: in early levels, the invaders take a preset route, although in others, the map is open and the bad guys will just swarm across, leaving the player to build walls and construct a path to slow them down. If the villains make it to the other side of the map, they’ll attack the town and a health bar down the bottom right of the screen lets you know just how safe South Park is.

Progressing through the story mode, the game begins with Stan and then unlocks Cartman, Kyle and Kenny, each with their own abilities in terms of the speed with which they can move, the strength of their thrown snowballs and their range. Snowballs are thrown with the A button, an attack that can be charged to make it stronger (resulting in a yellow snowball.)

Elementary_School_-_CarnageThrowing enough snowballs will also charge up each kid’s special ability: Cartman summons a fiery attack that will clear (or weaken) all enemies on screen; Kyle improves everyone’s throw, giving all players a yellow snowball without charging; Stan restores health to the city as and when it takes damage; and Kenny steals money from the invading enemies (that can then be used to build or upgrade more weapons.)

Building each obstacle costs money, and while there’s enough money in the game to build a suitable defense, it’s at enough of a premium to make choosing the right weapon important, and the stronger weapons cost more money, with some ineffective on different enemies. There are also some map-specific obstacles that can take down multiple enemies, and also the kids themselves if you’re not careful.

Gameplay allows players to switch through the four main characters using the right bumper, able to make the most of each ability, but like the towers, it’s necessary to place each character strategically: fall into the path of the approaching enemies, and they’ll be immobilised, needing the help of another character to stand up. Towers are built using the X button and special abilities are triggered with Y.

Scrapbook_EnemiesThe game itself isn’t just about the gameplay though: it’s an interesting game, fun to play and well worth the cost of 800 points, but what really makes it worthwhile is the sound-bites and clips that are scattered throughout the game, making it a must for South Park fans. The enemies have all featured in some form in episodes of the show, and include gingers, cows, underpants gnomes, old people, hippies, Mongolians and crab people, each with related audio and video explanations or introductions. The four kids also have their own dialogue recalling memorable moments from the series and voice-over is provided by a Japanese announcer who announces the start and “compretion” of each “rever.” Fan-favourites like Butters (and Professor Chaos) also surface, progressing the story and then becoming playable in a challenge mode as well.

If you’re a fan of the humour in South Park, then the game is a must-have, but you shouldn’t expect it to be any more politically correct than the series just because it’s a game. But if you download, you’ll be guaranteed a few hours of extremely replayable strategy gaming that just happens to be hilariously funny as well.

Zombie Rating: A

South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! is available now for download and play through XBox Live Arcade.

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