Title: South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: South Park Studios LLC
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Official Site: southpark.ubisoft.com/game/en-us/home/
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Where To Buy: Steam, Playstation Store, Xbox Marketplace
When South Park: The Stick of Truth was released back in 2014, I immediately dove in and found myself both laughing and wondering how they got away with putting such complete vulgarity in a game. It was easily simultaneously one of the funniest and most offensive games ever created. Each in of that game was layered with show references and cultural critiques in a such a clever way, and while the combat was fairly simplistic, it functioned very well. So how does the much-anticipated sequel fare?
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the second full game released by South Park Studios LLC for the modern consoles. The game picks up right after the events of the previous, with you as king over all your friends. A battle commences outside, so you hop down off your toilet throne (after using it in a mini-game of course) and charge outside to quell the rebellion. You reach Cartman’s backyard to find the resistors but are interrupted by a sudden appearance from The Coon who travels from the future to alert you of danger.
With this warning, your friends all abandon the current game and don their superhero attire, taking sides between the Coon and Friends or Super Friends franchises. After convincing Cartman to let you join, he gives you your first set of powers and a backstory involving events between your parents and sends you off to assist the other members of your team. From here, you accomplish missions and add more friends to your followers on Coonstagram, becoming a more powerful and renowned superhero along the way.
While the gameplay follows much of the first, with the map layout being almost identical to Stick of Truth, it definitely feels like each aspect of the original was expanded for The Fractured But Whole. Instead of just collecting a bunch of random junk that is a reference to something from the TV show, all picked up objects can serve a purpose for crafting new mods, costumes, and consumables for your hero. Also, completing side quests for different people can give you access to new abilities and assistance from friends.
The combat portion of the game received a much needed upgrade as well. Instead of just a basic turn-based style with your friends on one side and the baddies on the other, The Fractured But Whole allows for a wider range of movement that allows your party to split among the field. This encourages you to decide more precisely what powers you want to take and how you want to strike people down, as some powers can add negative effects and others can push enemies back into each other or your friends. Other than the repetitive nature of the Super cutscenes, which are admittedly awesome at first but quickly grow old, every layer of the combat feels much more fluid and strategic.
Another cool portion of the game is using your Buddy Powers and flatulent abilities to open new areas of the map. Big, heavy box in your way? Call in Scott Malkinson to use his diabetic rage to move it out of the way. Electric box sealing you in a room? Team up with Butters to launch his guinea pig from you to short it out. Your objective is on top of a roof? Call the Human Kite to help you coast through the air via fart travel. All of these solutions begin to come naturally as you make your way through the game, and became fairly important later on when more obstacles are thrown in your way.
While Stick of Truth had a significant amount of boss fights that ranged from simplistic to extremely challenging, The Fractured But Whole takes a different approach. While the boss fights aren’t nearly as difficult, they do have new and varying dynamics that make you think about how to beat them. Instead of just punching and farting your way through a sequence, you might need to continually reposition others between you and the enemy. Sometimes it’s just about getting to the other side of the room without dying. While it is a little disappointing to see some of the difficulty go away, it makes combat seem much more interesting.
The last, and perhaps best, part of South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the complete level of customization. You can tailor nearly every aspect of your character– their race, background, religion, sex, gender, and sexual identity, as well as your choice of powers, costume, and abilities. This in-depth level of customization makes it actually feel like your character is your own and a unique hero. While you may have been known as “Douchebag” in the first game, you have risen the ranks to “Buttlord”.
Verdict: South Park: The Fractured But Whole is more of a game than Stick of Truth ever was. While it sacrifices certain aspects from the original, it gains back far more in political commentary, customization, and technical advancement. Stick of Truth made me laugh but never made me think. The Fractured But Whole manages to do both and do them very well.
- Deep customization options
- Advanced combat system
- Easy to use crafting mechanics
- Less difficulty in fights
- Repetitive nature of super move scenes