Developed by Ubisoft and South Park Digital Studios, South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes place the day after the events in The Stick of Truth, where you once again take on the role as the New Kid. After a fight breaks out between the friends over how a superhero franchise should work, Cartman tasks New kid with helping find a missing cat that will net them $100 to start up their franchise. Of course, nothing goes as planned and you delve into the crime-ridden underbelly of South Park to battle the forces of evil while Cartman’s Coon strives to make his team the most beloved superheroes in history.
Being a huge fan of the show and The Stick of Truth, I was really looking forward to playing this game and I wasn’t disappointed! Right away, you can tell that this game is larger in scope than its predecessor. Players can create their character and have plenty of options to choose from. In true South Park fashion, the way the townsfolk react to you will differ, depending on race.
Where The Stick of Truth was more about pushing boundaries (aborted fetus, anyone?), The Fractured But Whole tries to tell a more fleshed out story with not nearly as many shocking moments. Sure there are some what the f*** moments, but they aren’t nearly as prevalent. The story in The Fractured But Whole takes the imagination of children and blows it way out of proportion, only in the way that South Park can. What starts off as a simple story of trying to build their own superhero franchise becomes something that is way deeper than just that. As the story progresses, the kids end up uncovering darker secrets that the town has been hiding and of course, just like most children, they are completely oblivious to it all.
The combat is the biggest change, as The Fractured But Whole has expanded the combat by implementing movement on the battlefield. This is very reminiscent of games like Shining Force and Final Fantasy Tactics where you move around on a grid and try to get a tactical advantage. Not only that, but you will eventually unlock more classes that will allow you to mix and match abilities from multiple different classes. The different abilities you use can alter the shape of battle in many different ways and the enemies you face can have different elemental protections that encourages experimenting.
As much as the combat has been improved, there were still a few issues I have stumbled across. For one, the enemies you encounter in the first two-thirds of the game felt almost too easy while the last third of the game almost felt too difficult, at times to the point where it felt jarring when I encountered such a battle. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but I felt that there should have been a gradually increasing difficulty. The other complaint is though the combat is fun, I often caught myself running past enemies to get to the next story beat.
This wouldn’t be a South Park game without potty humor. Since you are playing the same New Kid from the previous game, your Fart Powers are a big part of the game play. You’re able to use your farts to solve a multitude of puzzles, time travel, freeze time, and stun opponents. Not only do you have Fart Powers, but you also have a variety of Ultimate Powers, which can be used once you build up your Ultimate Meter by dealing or taking damage. Ultimate Powers can be completely devastating in combat and are one of the keys to success. Once you activate these powers, you will be shown an impressive cut-scene. Unfortunately you see the same cut-scenes over and over again, and some of them take up to 30 seconds without the ability to skip. Though these cut-scenes are fun to watch, they can be a bit tiresome and repetitive when you are playing a 20 hour game.
Graphically, the game looks quite impressive and runs smoothly at 30 frames per second on the PlayStation 4. It looks and feels like you are watching a 20 hour long episode of the TV series. The only minor hiccup that I have come across was when my system froze up in the middle of using one of my Ultimate Powers. After resetting the game, I encountered no more issues.
If you are a fan of South Park like I am, then I think you will enjoy The Fractured But Whole. There are plenty of elements from all of the seasons of the show to make die-hard fans happy. There are even characters that you may have forgotten about that come back and make an appearance. However, if you are not a fan of the show, you may not find much here that will pull you in unless you just enjoy tactical role-playing games.