We may have had to wait a little longer than expected, but when we finally got our hands on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, it was well worth the wait. Learn more in this official review!
Ubisoft and South Park Bring the Laughter Again
It’s been said that one of the hardest genres to produce is comedy. While they may have been specifically talking about television shows and movies, at the time, the saying holds true for video games. There aren’t many comedic video games, and with good reason. Drama, action those are easy. Trying to create a hilarious, interactive experience for roughly 5-10 hours is a lot harder. A few years ago, Ubisoft was able to accomplish what most developers only dream of, by teaming up with the South Park Studios family. Together they developed South Park: The Stick of Truth, one of the most funniest games ever created.
In 2017, they would develop one of the funniest series ever created, when they released South Park: The Fractured but Whole.
Much like they did with The Stick of Truth, South Park and Ubisoft elaborated on an idea they aired in a couple of episodes in the South Park TV Series. Where The Stick of Truth was a parody of The Lord of the Rings and the fantasy genre, The Fractured But Whole mocks the superhero movie genre that some believe has been played out. While many critics and fans can debate all date whether or not the genre has been overplayed in TV and movies one thing is certain, making the South Park sequel about the kids playing Superheroes was the best approach.
Jumping right into where The Stick of Truth and the Superhero Prequel episode left off, the South Park kids have started to grow out of playing wizards and elves and have moved on to trying to save South Park from the latest crime ring, terrorizing the small town, specifically it’s kitty-cats. The Coon & Friends must reunite with the New Kid, formerly King Douchebag, to find the kitties that are missing, earn the $100 reward, and start their own superhero franchise.
It’s this kind of innocence mixed in with R-rated jokes from the TV series that mock about issues of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and all the other touchy subjects that make The Fractured But Whole and the series one of the most hilarious, entertaining, ridiculous, raunchiest experiences in a video game you’ll ever play through.
Battling Gets Better
Outside of the comedic aspect, one of the things that made The Stick of Truth so great were the battle mechanics Ubisoft helped develop. It was a return to the classic turn-based RPG genre that we group up with in games like Final Fantasy. While The Stick of Truth utilized mostly melee weapons, arrows, magic, and frequency-based fart mechanics, The Fractured But Whole simplifies the battling by expunging the fart mechanics in favor of Superhero abilities. The result, is a battle system that feels smoother and more open to bigger moments. Bigger moments that include Ultimate Power cinematics that create various effects, based on your class.
Powers have a huge effect in The Fractured But Whole, as any game featuring superheroes should. However, unlike The Stick of Truth, Ubisoft allowed gamers the ability to unlock multiple classes, so you’re not pigeonholed to the first class you choose. Instead, you’re able to mix and match powers so you’re ready for whatever South Park’s biggest and baddest throw your way.
Furthermore, Ubisoft got rid of the mechanics that punish you for not hitting the right buttons. Instead, they feature time-based buttons that will merely help fill the Ultimate meter. Even if you mis-time the buttons or neglect to hit them at all, your attack will still hit but you won’t get any bonuses. This change is actually the perfect metaphor for how the series changed genres. With The Stick of Truth, the mechanics felt a bit archaic, at times, much like the fantasy genre they were in. With The Fractured But Whole, it feels more streamlined, easier to manage, like the conveniences of modern times. Nevertheless, it allows for a less game-within-the-game experience, making way for a more strategic and entertaining way to play.
The main downside of these powers is that they don’t seem very balanced, most of the time. That’s mainly due to whatever class you pick, in the first place. Unless you choose The Thing-type class in the beginning, it’s likely that you won’t be able to be a tank until much later in the game. That’s where your allies come into play. Picking the right team of superheroes can make or break you in battle. If you have too many close-range characters and not enough healers or ranged characters, you could have a rough time. That’s where strategy comes into play. Fortunately, unless a character is locked, you can change your team out before every battle.
Despite the battle mechanics being better, for the most part, there is one nagging issue I have with The Fractured But Whole. You’re still unable to attack going up or down. It’s still a East-West style game when it comes to close-range battles. Certain powers will allow for North-South attacks, but it’s still an East-West game in the grand scheme of things. If given the chance to change one thing, that would be the thing I would fix. It just makes the game even more realistic and easier to manage.
A Little Town With A Lot To Do
It’s no secret that Ubisoft has made it a point to create enough content to have gamers coming back for more. With all their other games, they either consistently build DLCs out the wazoo or, for games like South Park, they’ll have about 10 hours worth of side-quests and minigames upon release. With that in mind, the title of this segment of the review is actually an understatement when it comes to the South Park sequel. There are so many collectibles, side-quests, minigames to keep gamers in South Park for hours without even moving forward much in the story.
It’s always a mixed bag when it comes to the added content in video games. Sometimes they’re great and make the experience that much better. Then, other times, they give you nothing but a worthless achievement, without any in-game reward. Fortunately, in The Fractured But Whole, the developers made sure that the gamer would get rewarded upon completing or collecting anything, with at least XP and sometimes new outfits. It gives gamers a reason to want to complete the game.
What makes South Park’s minigames stand apart from others are how absolutely ridiculous they can be. For instance, The Fractured But Whole features a collectible minigame where you literally have to poop in other people’s toilets. It’s a little jarring, at first, but it gets hilarious pretty quick. The higher the starred toilet is, the most difficult the movements are to master the throne. You get craftable items and XP, afterward, but it’s more of a collectible thing than anything else. Nevertheless, it’s definitely unique.
Another thing that makes South Park’s added content unique is that you won’t know if a side-quest is part of the overall plot or if it’s just a way to earn more XP, Coonstagram followers (it’s Cartman’s version of Instagram, because you need those selfies to be famous), or gear. You won’t know until the last moment if a person you’re trying to help ends up being your worst enemy, making The Fractured But Whole even more spontaneous.
Shocking Plot-twists You’d Never Expect
Speaking of spontaneity, much like the TV series, there’s no telling where the plot of South Park will go next. At one point, you can be fighting off the forces of Professor Chaos and then other times you’re fending off two Catholic priests in a dark room. While that may sound like the most random thing you’ve ever heard (and it is), it makes the game that much more enjoyable. You shouldn’t want to be able to guess where the story of a game is going. Thankfully, with South Park, you never have to.
At times, The Fractured But Whole will feel a little tame, when compared to The Stick of Truth. Like clockwork, though, that’s when the game will pivot and suddenly you’re in a strip club having to collect semen and seeing what a Strip Club daycare looks like. That’s what makes the South Park series of games so fun to play. So many unforeseen moments that will leave your mouth gaping and your side hurting from laughter.