South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review
South Park has always been known for pushing boundaries in its comedy, as well as keeping up to date with current affairs, and whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny the hard work and talent put into every episode of the long-running TV show. The Fractured But Whole is a hoot, and everything you could possibly want from the long awaited follow up to The Stick of Truth, but it’s also a fantastic game. It’s a deep RPG that keeps its turn-based strategy approach fresh throughout, adding new stuff all the time and giving you plenty to do.
The Fractured But Whole sees you play as the New Kid as you try to find out who you are, and at the same time try to figure out what is happening to all the cats of South Park. There’s also a falling out between Cartman and friends that sees a civil war breakout between Coon and Friends and the Freedom Pals. It’s all ridiculous and over the top, but it wouldn’t be South Park if it was anything else.
There’s a lot going on here, but it’s constructed very well, and learning what to do is introduced at a steady pace. You’re given new abilities and introduced to new mechanics all the way through, making sure the turn-based gameplay doesn’t become repetitive, even though the actual combat elements do become a little stale. Outside of the battles, you’ll craft and loot to improve your stats (Brawn, Brains, Spunk, Health, and Move) and your looks, with plenty of costumes to unlock and make, and tons of ways to make you a better superhero, all through different apps in your mobile phone.
Learning about your back-story is great, told in parts by The Coon, and you’re also filtered new info about your history from your alcoholic mother and your stoned father. Your character creation at the very beginning takes care of what you look like, but throughout you’re given the chance to choose your race, your weakness, and your gender (through meetings with Mr. Mackey) among other things. These meetings are funny, and the fact your character doesn’t speak provides many comments from the people you’ll meet. The writing is excellent, and it feels just like an episode of the show, made with the care and the attention to detail fans are used to – albeit stretched over about 20 hours.
You’re constantly earning XP, and after each level you’ll unlock a new Artifact slot. These can be equipped to give you better stats and team bonuses. It’s very similar to building your light level in Destiny, but it’s called Might here. You can find them everywhere, build them from the scrap you find around South Park, and buy them from one of the many vendors. Each mission has a recommended Might level, but you’ll find that combat is pretty easy, even on the normal difficulty. There’s also a slot for DNA strands and these allow your stats to be switched around so that you can completely alter the fabric of your hero.
Crafting is important, and you’ll be able to build loads of new Artifacts and Consumables such as Antidotes and Summons to use in battle (some are only craftable after improving your crafting level, though). Loot everything: every post box, every bag, every letterbox and house. Not only will you find tons of scrap and tech to build stuff, but the names of things you’ll find are great, including references to very old episodes of the show (including a well-known Chef that left on awkward terms). It’s also great to craft the many different types of costumes, such as Marvel-inspired outfits that have you looking like Iron Man and Thanos. Due to it being an Ubisoft game, I was very fond of dressing up as an Assassin from the Creed games thanks to an unlock via the Ubisoft Club.
The battles are frequent, and you’re always adding to your allies by meeting characters like Fastpass, Captain Diabetes, Call Girl, and Tool Shed. Each hero is different and has very different moves and abilities from the next. For example, the Human Kite is beneficial for healing allies, and Captain Diabetes is very strong and can deal lots of damage. There’s also an Ultimate move you can use that’ll do loads of damage. My personal favourite was seeing Captain Diabetes gorge on candy canes and chocolate bars until he goes nuts on sugar.
You will get the option to expand your class to include lots of new abilities throughout, and through the Powers app, you’ll be able to switch them at any point. The Brawler class gives you some powerful punches and charges, whilst the Cyborg offers you the chance to fire electric bolts at enemies, and the Gadgeteer class will let you be like Tony Stark, using gadgets to take down opponents. There’re a lot of different ones and you’ll get to experiment which is a lot of fun.
Battles take place on grids, and they can be started by punching an enemy (giving you the first move a la Persona), initiated as part of the story, and more. You’ll get the option to choose who you take into battle before each fight, or change your line up during exploration, but some fights may only allow the New Kid to fight alone depending on the story. Each move does a set amount of damage, and depending on your Move stat, you can move around the board before you choose whom to attack. While it is turn-based, the battles flow rather well, and there are lots of environmental interactions available in different battles that change things significantly, such as the fight with the meth heads and a brawl in Medicinal Fried Chicken.
Outside of the battles, there’s a surprising amount to do. You can go into almost every building, with some being accessible later once you’ve unlocked the ability to get past certain obstacles. The game takes place across the day and night, and when you take part in missions over night, the sixth graders disappear and the heathens and creeps fill the streets. Holy shit, visiting the strip club for the first time is brilliant, allowing you to take part in one of the many mini games. The twin sticks play quite the role in these interludes, like when you must take a crap on one of the many toilets littered across the town.
There’s an Inspection Mode you can initiate that’ll let you throw firecrackers at breakable objects, start Fartkour with the Human Kite aimed at getting you to higher places, crack open the Sandblaster to get rid of any lava (red LEGO), and more. Your farts are legendary, and act as your super power, so using them for all your powers becomes the focus point. Not only do you use them in Inspection Mode, but you can use them to manipulate time (of course!) through Time Farts.
Time Farts are a magnificent mechanic which can be used both in battle and when exploring South Park. Pausing fights let you go and punch an enemy for a limited number of time, and rewinding time can cancel out an opponent’s last move, but this can’t be done on every turn. Outside of fights, freezing time can let you get past water that’s raging with electricity, and the other Time Fart unlocks help with many other obstacles.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is superb, and whilst combat can become repetitive, Ubisoft is always adding to your arsenal in one way or another. Visually it’s impeccable, and South Park is filled with familiar places and characters. Side-quests flesh out the game and introduce loads of characters such as Big Gay Al, and there’re loads of hidden jokes and secrets that make the exploration worthwhile. There’s also a great ‘social’ element to your South Park experience in the form of Coonstagram, a tool to see what everyone in South Park is up to, and a way for characters to communicate with you, depending on whether you take a selfie with them first. It’s a better game than The Stick of Truth, as crude as ever, and filled with lots to do. It may have taken a long time to come out, but the wait was worth it.
Deep RPG systems
Character progression is great
Battles can get repetitive
Is a bit easy
Outstays its welcome a tad