Released On: October 17, 2017 Genre: Role Playing Reviewed On: PS4 Also Available On: Xbox One/PC Developer: Ubisoft/South Park Digital Studios Publisher: Ubisoft MSRP: $59.99 USD
Over the years, many games based off of popular shows or movies have surfaced. A great many were terrible, which was due in part to the fact that the publishing studio of afore mentioned show or movie was never involved in the development of the game. Thankfully, this is not the case at all with South Park: The Fractured But Whole.
Admittedly, I am not the craziest fan of South Park as a TV series. I will watch it occasionally, but it is not something I typically spend time on. That being said, I thought the first game, South Park: The Stick of Truth, was an absolutely great game. I went into this title with that in mind hoping they would continue the story, and I was not disappointed.
The story starts off pretty much exactly where you would expect it to after playing the first title — with the usual South Park flair. Quickly thrusting you into a fight and going over the basics of the new combat system. Shortly after the tutorial, the story starts to ramp up, along with the typical crude humour scattered around between the conversations of characters or with posts on the game’s version of Instagram dubbed ‘Coonstagram’. Character customization is fairly vast, though not from the beginning. While the initial designing is a bit limited, you find, craft, and collect many other character customization tools, which can be altered at any point in the game.
Aside from the look, your character may take the role of 10 total classes, 3 of which are available at the start of the game. This allows the player to almost craft their ideal super hero. The classes can be physical damage-based, relying on brute strength to deal damage to enemies; speed-based, which rely on weaker multiple hit attacks and reality bending abilities; or magical, using the elements to cause damage and status effects or even heal allies. I personally found myself spending 10-15 minutes weighing the pros and cons between the classes each time I had to pick a new one. The sexuality and gender is also included during character customization. While it does not effect gameplay, and can also be changed during the game, it was refreshing to see. On top of the classes, the player will unlock artifact slots and a DNA mutation slot to further strengthen and customize the character. The artifacts come in three levels: Minor, Major, and Epic. Minor and Major Artifacts give stat boosts along with extra effects like critical hit or extra healing. Epic Artifacts not only give stat bonuses like the Minor and Major versions, but also provide player/party with an extra ability. A couple of these abilities are healing at the beginning of every turn, or that the ally in the lead gains an extra ability slot to use in battle. Keeping artifacts upgraded is a great way to keep an edge in battle, even more so on the harder difficulties.
The game takes place in the same town we all know and love, however the kids are all playing super heroes, trying to find a super hero franchise and make a lot of money. Cartman leads his group ‘Coon and Friends’ to find a missing cat and beat Timmy’s group, ‘Freedom Pals,’ to get the $100 reward. Coon and Friends wish to use the reward money to kick start the franchise and gain followers on Coonstagram. However, amidst their shenanigans, they end up doing much more good than they thought, becoming a force of good to be reckoned with. With side quests galore and tons of collectibles to find, the game provides plenty of hours of play time. Collectibles in the game include outfits, weapons, crafting recipes, and anime style pictures — called ‘Yaoi’ — of Tweak and Craig in some very uncomfortable positions. Keeping in line with the first South Park game, they made the trophies/achievements require multiple plays for the hunters out there.
Aesthetically, the game looks like the modern day cartoon does. That familiar blend of 2D and 3D, with characters bouncing around and hopping up steps, reminiscent of penguins. The world is mostly open, although certain abilities are required to access some areas, forcing you to progress through the story at some point or another. There are fast travel stations placed around the town, but even with the help of those a lot of time is spent walking as they are not always near where the game would like you to go. Sprinting was removed for some reason, which was quite helpful in the first game to speed up the travel times, and I found myself getting a little bored walking back and forth between areas of the town as there was no other way to get around. On the plus side, anything that can be opened has a gold handle, eliminating the button spam while walking around all the time. Random enemies will be waiting in an alley or behind a tree on the world map, but can be avoided for the most part if you choose to. And like its predecessor, it includes a plethora of people to befriend and release flatulence upon.
The Fractured But Whole’s combat is simple to understand, but has the ability to allow for a very tactical approach as well. The new battle system was a much welcomed change from the system of old. Keeping in line with the turn-based style, the game has characters go in order based on stats and said order is clearly shown in the bottom right corner of the screen, so you can easily plan ahead if an ally needs to be helped in some way. Rather than taking the form of a traditional turn-based RPG like the first game, however, this time there is a grid system added into the mix. Now attacks will affect areas on the grid instead of just choosing a target, making for greater tactical advantages when using barricades and other objects that will be on the battlefield. Players also gain different flatulent abilities that can be used both in and outside of battle. These include the reversing time, pausing time, and even creating a clone from a past you by ripping the time space continuum. With the ability to choose your characters powers before each fight, along with the ability to update party members, players can maximize potential for each fight.
Crafting was also added into the game, and plays a huge part in the upgrading of Artifacts as well as the story progression in general. Many story missions and side quests will require certain items to be crafted to complete and move on with the quests. Also, a good amount of wardrobe items have to be crafted in order to obtain them. Crafting materials are easily found, as just about any shop in the game will sell any crafting items you might need. The only items that really require work to obtain are the items needed for the side or main story quests, but even those are quite easy to locate without much trouble.
All in all, I was very happy with The Fractured But Whole. The removal of the sprinting feature was my biggest pet peeve while playing, but it was easily made up for with the fresh new battle system. The dialogue between the characters during the story and side quests that involved the characters directly were well done, however I feel some of the jokes and references in the game were in bad taste. This is personal preference though, and seeing as it was written by the South Park creators, it was no surprise. That aside, if you enjoyed The Stick of Truth, you will certainly enjoy The Fractured But Whole.
Final Score: 8/10
A humour filled story with a great battle system and plethora of collectibles to find kept me playing for hours on end.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.