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The awkwardly-named South Park Lets Go Tower Defense Play! is a combination of two extremely unexciting things (tower defense games and licensed games) into one genuinely fun package. Tower defense games come a dime a dozen, so any new one coming out would have to feature some sort of catch to be even the least bit interesting. Strangely, it seems that taking a TD game and pouring a heaping helping of South Park all over it makes for a pretty great gimmick. The characters, enemies, and dialogue benefit greatly from the addition of the South Park license, but it's the core gameplay that kept this game from being simply "okay" and made it awesome.
Like most Tower Defense games, South Park TD's core action involves building walls to make enemies have to take a longer path to their destination and building towers to destroy them quickly. In each level, players have to defend one side of the map while gnomes, hippies, old people, and 6th graders storm in from the opposite side. Most levels contain more than one stage, which simply means that the team of Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny must defend another location before the level is complete. Each level usually contains only two stages, and there are 11 levels in the main campaign, along with 6 challenge maps that unlock as players progress through the campaign. I'd say that each stage lasts about 10 minutes, which makes for some fun, quick games.
One of the things that sets South Park TD apart from other Tower Defense games is that you'll almost always have four characters as your disposal, each of which is free to move around the play field and attack using snowballs. These snowballs are often the most powerful attack at your disposal, so players should set up three of their non-controlled players to attack from strategic positions while they control the most powerful character (typically Kenny) and make sure that nothing gets to the exit. Multiplayer is very easy to set up, and friends can jump in to help with a campaign that's already in progress at any time. Playing with friends not only makes the game easier, but the game also makes things a bit more fun by adding in a score breakdown at the end of the round that will show players how well they played compared to each other. Single player is no slump, but playing with four friends is a unique experience that no other Tower Defense game on the market has to offer.
As players blaze through the arenas in the game, they will unlock numerous (potentially over 80) clips from the South Park TV show. The clips are usually loosely related to a newly introduced enemy, character, or event in the South Park universe, and are actually pretty funny. The clips, along with the dialogue in the game, are just as offensive as the show, but there is an option to tone down the blood, gore, and language. New characters are unlocked as progression through the campaign is made, and each character has a special ability that is charged up over time (Cartman can deal damage to all the enemies on screen, Kenny makes money fly everywhere, etc.).
From a critical standpoint, there isn't much that South Park does wrong. The art is fine, the dialogue is humorous, and the gameplay itself is loads of fun, especially in multiplayer. At 800 points, the price is right as well, which is nice to see after it began to look like Microsoft was making 1200 points the new standard. As a licensed XBLA release, South Park TD surprises and entertains, making it well-deserving of any gamer's time and money.
Publisher:Microsoft Game Studios