Pretty unexpected entry for the Christmas contest, but one I really ended up enjoying!
Before starting, I guess I should say that it's been...a fair good couple of years since I've seen the show. Kinda grew up watching it (my dad had the first Season on DVD) and I enjoyed a lot of it but haven't really seen many episodes since around Season 20, I wanna say?
I kinda have a soft spot for the more crude presentation of the earlier seasons and the slightly more immature kids, which this mod kinda manages to capture as a result of it using South Park 64
assets. That also being a game I really don't know too much about outside of it being the only somewhat decent South Park licensed game until the RPGs rolled around. I did play a bit of Rally's PS1 port when I was really young, but have very little memory of it and that's sorta getting off-topic. It's kinda nice seeing some nods to older material like Chef still being alive or locations that aren't seen too much in the show these days, like Jimbo's gun shop. It's pretty nostalgic for me! There's also a decently healthy blend of some newer stuff too, like some of the more modern characters that I noticed wandering about, or Tweek's kart advertising his business. It's these details that manage to make the town feel pretty connected to the show. Was surprised when I learned these NPC models were custom made and just assumed they came from the PC port of one of Akklaim's titles. Well done on that front! It all looks incredible.
Speaking of it, the town itself is also pretty enjoyable! It has a very simple blocky feel kinda suits the show's art style and most buildings are pretty basic in geometry. There isn't too much to them to explore, but they're still fun to take a look at and drive around. I realize the models come from Rally and the FPS game so textures aren't quite as sharp as SHAR's, but work for what they set out to do and the entirely new map is pretty impressive. If I did have to nitpick, it's that I feel some of the map sections are a bit too flat without much in the way of interesting terrain, but given the small size of the mod it's not bad at all and never feels completely empty. It's kinda cool once the player has mastered the map to cut inbetween alleyways to take shortcuts.
Outside of exploring the mod has a nice fair amount of hefty content to keep you occupied (Funko Pop Garrison is a lot of fun). Was decently surprised by the amount of cars available for purchase and the variety gotten out of them given the source material, which I don't think has as many remember able cars as something such as the Simpsons. It would've been fairly easy to just pull all the cars from South Park Rally, but there's some surprising originality here such as Kenny's Go-Go Bronco Kart
from Season 4 or the Expansion Pak (I assume the model was taken from South Park 64?) or Tweak's cart which is entirely original. Prices for the optional content are also pretty reasonable too, requiring just a fair bit of exploration, but you don't need to ravage the map for everything to experience the rewards without cheating or grinding. Managed to grab everything despite missing around 8 drones?
My only real complaints is that the one mission in the mod is fairly difficult if you attempt to run it with Garrison's default car and the difficulty feels a little bumpy. For instance, the Amazon Truck stage is difficult because the speed of the car pretty much outpreforms Garrison's car. I kinda had to wait for his AI to slow down by falling behind and catch up, and then hope it got stuck. A later stage has you heading towards definitely-not-Hank Hill near the Library to grab some Christmas lights, and it's oddly not timed. Not that every stage should be, but the difficulty bumps feel slightly odd here and there.
Mr. Garrison also feels a little light on dialog. I only noticed about 4 lines of dialog when driving around while preforming the mission. Thankfully they weren't too frequent, but some more lines to further drive in the show's spirit I think would've been nice to hear? The cameo NPCs also have Action prompts indicating they have idlereply dialog, but I was a bit disappointed to discover they don't say anything and Garrison didn't have anything to say either.
While writing this, I also noticed a crash bug where Kyle's Cart's Phonebooth doesn't have a proper 'damaged' icon or appears to be named incorrectly
? So hovering over it when it's damaged causes a game crash. There's also a minor grammar error in L1M0's mission briefing, though it's an easy mistake and just kinda nitpicky.
Incredible work! A lot of love clearly went into capturing the show's style with the custom character models and there's a lot of nice nods to some more modern Seasons as well. The map also feels pretty believable and feels like it respects the show's layout as well. With the content given for the player to explore and unlock, it's nice to see someone give the South Park IP another stab at the open world genre after that (rather promising looking) Xbox game got shelved