South Park just recently kicked off its 21st season last month and still shows no real signs of stopping as Trey Parker and Matt Stone keep giving us hilarious episodes. The series has had video games based on the series in the past, but the first true South Park game that felt like it was an actual episode of the show was 2014’s South Park: The Stick of Truth. A sequel has been in the works and after a few different delays, the superhero focused South Park: The Fractured But Whole is finally here.
Rather than go with a direct sequel to The Stick of Truth that continued the fantasy theme found in that game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole builds off of the existing idea of Coon & Friends, a superhero group founded by Cartman. In the episode that aired preceding the release of the game, Coon & Friends had a falling out over their “franchise plan” and half of them left, leading to the two factions in this game known as Coon & Friends and the Freedom Pals that is definitely a riff on Captain America: Civil War.
The main story in South Park: The Fractured But Whole stems from this dissension, with you being a part of Coon & Friends as they try to figure out why cats have gone missing in town, for a reward of course. As we’ve seen with past Coon related episodes on the show, there is much more than meets the eye, with the plot getting much more complex and over the top like you would expect from South Park. Nothing may exemplify this better than the trip to The Peppermint Hippo strip club in search of a woman with a certain kind of tattoo, which ends up with your character having to give a fart filled lap dance to an old businessman to get information about her.
You can definitely tell that Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked directly on this game with the game’s humor not skipping a beat. The game really does feel like an extended series of episodes with different plots being intermixed throughout, which is exactly what fans of the series would want. The music is also a nice mix of familiar and original tracks, with some definitely sounding like they had to have been inspired by actual themes from other superhero properties, which was a very nice touch.
Missions themselves are handed out by various characters, with the main story missions typically coming from Cartman. The town of South Park has so many side quests for you to find and complete as well, adding a lot more to this world that could have been left rather simple. While not explicitly listed as such, South Park: The Fractured But Whole utilizes a chapter based system that is separated into days. You have a number of a different main story missions to complete and then it all leads into a linear mission at night that requires you to go home and sleep in bed and then sneak out to participate in.
Across the main story and side quests, you’ll run into characters that span the 21 years of the show, ranging from classic characters like Towelie to more recent additions like PC Principal. There are even collectibles to find that are based on the yaoi art between Craig and Tweek that was the subject of an episode in 2015 that has stuck around ever since. On top of that, you are also trying to increase your follower count on the in-game app titled Coonstagram by taking selfies with anyone you can. Some people will just take a selfie for nothing, while others require you to complete side quests to be able to do so. When you add in other collectibles like new costume items, you will have plenty to do in South Park: The Fractured But Whole, though it’s still not an overly lengthy game.
The game offers a few different difficulty options, which are separated between actual combat and other events in the game. By now, there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of the controversial skin color option that makes certain aspects of the game harder the darker your skin is, such as how much money you earn. In addition to that, you can choose the combat difficulty from three options, one that gives you the advantage in battle for an easy playthrough, one that puts you and enemies on even ground, and one that gives enemies the advantage, making it harder for you. These varying options are great for a game like this where fans may just want to play through the equivalent of a number of South Park episodes without having to work too overly hard.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole switches up the gameplay from Stick of Truth by introducing a grid based combat system instead. In Stick of Truth, you simply selected your attack and picked a target like classic JRPGs. In this game however, you instead must move around a rectangular grid and attack enemies based on your positioning, with certain moves having different range and areas of attack. Your class also plays a big role in the type of fighter you are in battle.
The only downside with this new system is that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to decipher where exactly you can move to and where your attacks will hit, especially once red lava spots and warning enemy attack spots come into play. Even so, there are no major issues with the combat system and this is more of a nitpick than anything else as it’s a definite improvement on the last game in that department.
At the start of the game, you get to create your character and choose a class from them among three, Speedster, Brutalist, and Blaster, complete with getting your own origin story that serves as a tutorial for that new power class. Later in the game, you will be able to select additional classes like Psychic and Gadgeteer that give you more variety in your attacks, with you getting a redone origin story in hilarious fashion that all ends up with the same outcome.
In battle, you have four total attacks that you can have preset to three of the face buttons, with the fourth being an ultimate attack that is done by pressing the left bumper. The Coon’s ultimate is a personal favorite of mine that I loved watching every time as its so fitting for him. It is really great that you don’t have to be restricted to one class at a time, but instead can branch out and mix up your move set in whatever way you choose.
Not only do you control your created character in battle, but also your team of up to four characters, though sometimes additional ones are added mid-fight for specific battles. You are not able to change up their move sets at all, but you can choose which party members you have in battle, which grows deeper the more you play in the game. Even characters like Captain Diabetes, aka Scott Malkinson, have a big role in the game and are a lot of fun to use in battle.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole also introduces what are known as TimeFart powers that allow you to do things like reverse time and pause time. These can be used both in battle to help, as well as to solve puzzles that you couldn’t do normally. In addition, you can call upon allies to help with certain tasks, such as blowing away lava to or flying up to impossible to reach otherwise spots. Obtaining new skills like this means you’ll have to backtrack a good bit in the game at times to get to areas that require these abilities, so be prepared to do a good bit of that if you want to get everything in the game.
Also brand new in South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a crafting system that allows you to construct artifacts, costumes, consumables, and mission items. This is very simple to do, as you just need certain materials to craft items that you have recipes for, though many require you to continue crafting to level up your crafting score and thus be able to craft higher tier items.
The artifacts are equippable items that enhance your character’s stats, with more slots opening up the higher levels you get. You can either construct these, earn them, or find them throughout the game. There are also DNA strands that more specifically alter stats that you unlock awhile into the game.
As you get deeper and deeper into the game, walking around South Park could start to feel like a chore with so much back and forth between areas. The developers knew this could be a problem and included a fast travel feature in the game courtesy of the game’s parody of The Flash with Fast Pass, aka Jimmy. It still would have been nice to have had a run button on top of this since your character walks rather slow, but it isn’t that big of a problem. You will unlock Fast Pass locations throughout town that you can then use to travel between. The load times are pretty impressive here as well, so it definitely will save you a good bit of time.
Speaking of load times in general, South Park: The Fractured But Whole runs extremely well in that department. Walking between parts of town rarely even bring up loading screen, and even if they do, they load up in a few seconds. There was really only one time where there was a bit of a glitch trying to fight some Sixth Graders, but it loaded up right after.
We’ve been waiting ever since the release of South Park: The Stick of Truth for a new South Park game and it manages to take what we loved about the original and makes it even better. Even though the game may not be as long as your typical RPG, the usage of Coon & Friends as the central focus was a genius decision and when combined with a deeper gameplay system, South Park: The Fractured But Whole lives up to the hype and more in this fantastic sequel.
With 21 years of being on the air, South Park: The Stick of Truth was the first game that truly captured the spirit of the series and that is continued with near perfection in South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Even if you never got around to playing The Stick of Truth, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the very epitome of South Park at the very top of its game.
9.0 TimeFarts Out Of 10.
Release Date: October 17th, 2017 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4, PC
Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco
Disclosure: South Park: The Fractured But Whole Was Provided By The Publisher For Coverage Purposes