South Park: The Fractured But Whole Xbox One l PS4 l PC
DEVELOPER: Ubisoft San Francisco
RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017
One of my favorite games of 2014 was South Park: The Stick of Truth. A game that transported fans into the world we’ve been watching on TV for a couple of decades now. Now the highly anticipated sequel, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, has arrived.
In the game you once again play as the new kid in town, a frustratingly quiet kid who also happens to possess some impressive special abilities, especially in the art of flatulence. And as you quickly find out, the neighborhood children are no longer playing in the fantastical world they were in the first game. Now, they’ve moved on to superhero franchises.
The first thing that should be noted is that The Fractured But Whole isn’t too different from The Stick of Truth.
The map is basically the same map they created for the first game—the first time they had to actually figure out where everything in the town was located—with a few new additions/changes mainly involving newer parts of the show from the past couple seasons. This is great if you’ve played the first game (which you should do immediately if you have not—and wouldn’t you know it, the first game comes with purchase of the sequel!) as you’ll know where a lot of things are. But even if you’ve not played the first it’s not too complicated to learn.
In addition to the main quest there’s once again side objectives you can do. There’s also plenty of things to search for, from crafting materials to costumes, artifacts, collectibles, and even those oh so nostalgic Member Berries.
Some things are similar, but slightly changed. Social media is back, but it’s not a Facebook clone like it was in the first game. This time it’s an Instagram-inspired app in which you gain friends by taking selfies with people around South Park. It’s what all the cool kids are doing these days, after all. Characters you meet will still leave messages and comments as well, which is always good for a chuckle.
Also changed up a bit is the combat system. It’s still turn-based, but it’s been altered from the first game. Now battles take place on a grid, which allows you to move around. This creates more strategy, as you must decide whether to attack, heal (yourself or others), or maybe just move to a safer spot to avoid dangerous incoming attacks. As I said in my review of the first game, I’ve always despised turn-based combat. But these games have done a great job of keeping things entertaining and funny enough for anyone to enjoy even if turn-based isn’t their thing. This new system is a little more complicated, and does take a little getting used to. But once you get things down it’s smooth sailing.
It’s also worth mentioning that in my time playing, I experienced no glitches or bugs or crashes. Nothing. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but we live in a time when broken, buggy games being shipped is the new normal. I go into almost every game expecting some issues, so that they don’t bother me as much when they do happen. I’ve played games that came out four years ago just recently which are still a broken mess to this day (*cough*Battlefield 4*cough*), so it is refreshing to play something that actually works.
As far as sequels go, there’s not a whole lot more that needs to be said. South Park: The Fractured But Whole is about as good as they get. Despite moving from developer Obsidian Entertainment on the first game to Ubisoft for the sequel (though Ubisoft did publish both), the follow-up is yet again a brilliantly funny and enjoyable gaming experience. It’s rude, crude, childish, graphic, insulting (if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be a South Park game), and I loved every second of it. Everyone will have their favorite of the two, but they’re so close I have to believe it will come down to whether you prefer fantasy or superheroes.
Just as was the case with the first game, it’s unlikely that this game will be all that appealing to anyone who hasn’t seen or is not a fan of South Park. But for those who are, it’s another adventure which allows us to hang out INSIDE of that world, as if we’re part of an episode or episodes. That alone is something that I, as someone who’s been a fan since the show first arrived on my television, am forever grateful to Trey Parker, Matt Stone, the rest of the South Park team, and everyone else who has put so many hours into creating both of these amazing games for giving to us.