Review: South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! (Xbox 360)October 21st, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Xbox 360
Nine years after the last South Park game we were “blessed” with, doublesix games has stepped up to take on the challenge of making the first quality game based on the popular animated series. We definitely weren’t expecting to see this Xbox Live Arcade game turn out to be a tower defense game, but South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play does a great job of pulling the right things from the show to make for a compelling multiplayer tower defense game.
There really isn’t much of a story to Let’s Go Tower Defense Play, at least not compared to any episode of the show. A series of antagonists from throughout the entire series are invading the town to destroy it and the boys set out to figure out who is behind it to stop them before it is too late. The story is presented with manga-style cutscenes to show what’s happening before you start the level. The game does a great job of using the full extent of the South Park IP with several kids you can unlock as playable characters, tons of enemies that you’ve seen in the show’s entire run, a lot of video clips you can unlock to see where any of the enemies or kids came from along with any great moments they had, great animation that captures the limited animation of the show, and several areas and side characters you’ll meet from the show itself.
The tower defense gameplay in South Park is more of a freeform style like Savage Moon on the PS3, but with the ability to control the boys directly for a more action-oriented experience. You take direct control of one kid at a time and can toss snowballs, or yellow snowballs once fully-charged, and use your special power when the special meter is full to use whatever effects it offers. Each of the 15 kids has their own special powers that ranges from Cartman’s fire wave of destruction to Stan refilling the town’s health to Kyle giving all four characters a power and speed boost for a few seconds. As you kill enemies, some of them drop coins that you need to collect to help build new towers or upgrade the towers that are already there, though only having one upgrade per towers seems like it’s not enough. Each level is generally made of two or three stages, so beating one stage takes you to the next part of the level where you may encounter a boss to end a few of the levels.
After you beat the first few introductory levels in South Park, it becomes apparent that this game wasn’t well-balanced for single-player, as it can be a hassle to juggle controlling all four boys at once. It’s easy to get through the first few levels on normal difficulty, but once it opens up, you’ll likely need to drop down to casual just to stay alive since the preparation you need to before the first enemy wave appears is a bit too much for one person. At that point, you need to lay down snow walls to direct enemies along the longest path possible so you give yourself the best chance to take them out, but it can take at least two-thirds of your prep time to just get the paths laid out before even thinking about what towers are necessary. Controlling all four boys is a bit of a hassle as pushing RB to rotate between them can be hit or miss in the heat of battle and it can be hard to see where the boy you’re controlling is since his model hides behind enemies, towers, and there should be some kind of special indicator so you don’t run into the action and get your character killed by mistake. Then there’s the fact that the first few towers you have are virtually useless by the end of the game since the new enemies that are introduced to you require specific towers you gained later and the same can be said for earlier types of enemies, so the variety of enemies is a bit lacking in the last few levels.
With that said South Park was obviously made with co-op in mind, so you will definitely want to have at least one friend to help balance out the workload and better tackle the big waves. Co-op can be done locally and over Xbox Live, which is where you will really have access to the harder difficulties and highest trophies since you can earned more points for a high trophy on high difficulties. Outside of the main campaign mode, there are a few challenge levels that present some actually interesting challenges, like having limited spaces for towers or none at all, that you can better use all of the extra kids you unlock in the campaign. As you play with each of the kids, complete levels in challenge or campaign modes, and complete certain tasks, you will unlock a ton of clips, usually two clips per kid and enemy that offer some funny moments, for the scrapbook that has a ton of information about locations, enemies, kids, towers, and more that should be able to help you any time you’re unsure about something.
Let’s Go Tower Defense Play may not have technically amazing visuals, but it does a great job of capturing the look of the show and the animations that the show is known for. The levels look are interesting and some have a few cool hooks, like hazards that can take out enemies and your own characters, which keeps the levels from getting too stale in design. Laying down towers is a bit of a pain since it’s hard to set them down in a good, neat line since you can only get an outline for where the tower will go down if you intentionally try to lay it down on unusable land, which should’ve been available all of the time. The music is great and the game received great voice acting that includes old and new clips from Matt Stone and Trey Parker themselves, which adds a lot to the entertainment when they comment on the enemies that have appeared.
South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play is a pretty good tower defense game that has some flaws that keep it from being a great game, but anybody that has friends to play with should definitely check this out. If you’re just into single-player, you should probably just look at Defense Grid first for the better single-player experience amongst its Xbox Live Arcade competitors. doublesix games has done a great job of creating a solid South Park game that actually does the source material some justice rather than be just another terrible licensed game, like the previous Acclaim games.