South Park: The Fractured But Whole: Yes, South Park is back for a sequel, and a long-awaited sequel at that, ever since it was first announced at E3 2016 in June last year… and which was due to be released in Christmas THAT year.
The first game was based on popular culture at the time and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was still a big thing, even though the game spent nigh-on five years in development. Much like the TV show, there were parodies and social commentary on politics of the time, which was all wrapped up in The Stick of Truth – still one of the funniest games ever released.
This time around, the Middle Earth theme has been dropped for the crime-ridden metropolis that Coon & Friends have to defend. Cartman makes this decision at the beginning of the game in a cutscene (he wants to rescue a missing cat which has a $100 reward and events then expand on that), you being the new kid (not sure if you are the same new kid from the first game) aren’t allowed to join in the fun and aer told to get lost. Of course, you manage to get into Cartman’s basement and he allows you to become a hero, then tells you to head off and help/see a few of the other kids.
The gameplay, like the first one, sees you running all over South Park, completing a range of quests for the colourful characters and getting people to join Co -onstagram. Usually, this will involve either having enough followers or meeting certain requirements like helping someone out. Once the mission is completed, you then have to move the camera around and pose for a selfie! Missions are much like any other RPG out there – most cases, you’ll go to find something and take it back to the person involved. There are also missions where you have to collect specific items to combine them, which tends to be main sub-missions, though, that Morgan Freeman from his Taco shop advises.
Once items are collected and you craft them, they unlock an extra fart ability. Each kid that you enrol to Coon and friends has their own abilities: Captain Diabetic, as an example, can be called to move heavy objects; Human Kite can reach high places like rooftops and so on. Those abilities are only used around the environment and are specific to certain bits of the map where you need to be up on a roof to collect something, or moving something which is incorporated into a puzzle.
The biggest change over the first game is the combat. Previously, you’d put your characters on one side of the screen and the enemies on the other, then attack each other until you succeeded or failed. That is in its simplest form. You could block attacks, use special abilities and various potions. It is fun and effective and made the turn-based combat accessible to everyone. I personally don’t overly like this sort of combat in RPGs as I think that you hitting an enemy, for them to then be able to retaliate in a powerful way, doesn’t seem right when you have caused them serious damage.
There are some turn-based systems which work well enough not to punish new players like the excellent Shadowrun reboot and Divinity Original Sin. Thankfully, the first South Park game was nicely balanced and the combat had been implemented well. With the sequel, they have changed the combat to a grid system, so you can strategically move characters round to best use their abilities and dodge some of the enemy attacks. This does add an extra layer to the combat as you have to look at enemy placement, the placement of your team, and items which may be blocking off some of the grid, e.g. the fight with Red Wine Randy has a large table in the middle of the room, as an example. If you have the latter, and then move too many upfront, you could end up in a situation where one or two kids will constantly get attacked and you cannot move others in to take the hits and retaliate.
Once again, each kid has their own special abilities and tend to be loosely based on a superhero from either Marvel or the DC Universe. Cartman (Coon) is very much like Batman, Jimmy is like The Flash and I created a character which can do damage with fire (Human Torch), plus the numerous other kids also pay homage to comic book heroes.
You do get to add a second class to your character after completing a certain mission, which is where you can mix things up a fair bit and choose another style that fits in with the way you play. On top of the dual class system, you can slot certain artefacts into your DNA to get boosts towards various aspects to your character such as extra critical hit damage or defence towards a damage type. Finally, on the ability side of things, at certain points you do unlock various fart powers. They tend to unlock when needed and are then used immediately for effects such as rolling back time to remove an enemy’s hit effects, or stop someone from getting killed. You will get loads of different costume parts during your travels, but unlike the first game, these are merely cosmetic to get your character looking the way you want them to.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a great game, especially if you are like me and still love the series. The humour is on point and in line with the show. Plus, the superhero-themed Coon & Friends all have great and different personalities, with my favourite being Mysterion). The writing could have been a bit better, but it captures the core essence of what South Park is about.
Also check out my Facebook album of fantastic screenshots.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: Single player only with online component
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!