South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the second game in the Ubisoft series, following 2014’s The Stick Of Truth. Fractured But Whole has ditched the fantasy aesthetic that Stick of Truth had in favour of parodying the cinematic super hero genre. This change up, combined with a new and very deep combat system has made for an extremely fun game that is packed with laugh out loud moments.
The main story in The Fractured But Whole revolves around the town’s kids, who each have their own super hero persona trying to get money to fund their highly ambitious catalogue of super hero films they plan to release in their multi phased universe. After an internal rift among the kids, they branch off into 2 separate, competing groups to each try and better the other and prove that they have the better franchise. This is told via the opening cutscene or you can watch the prequel episode of South Park titled ‘Franchise Prequel’ to view the lead up.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the South Park creator’s are parodying with this premise. They even come right out and say it multiple times throughout the game, with the 2 groups referring to each other as Marvel and DC Comics. But it’s handled so well. Based on the large cast of amazing characters in this series, they could if they wanted to, milk this series with a heap of entertaining spin off games, movies or episodes and I think that’s part of the whole joke. The super hero genre is highly over saturated and Matt Stone and Trey Parker are going to make sure you know about it.
You play as the ‘New Kid’ or often called Butthole if you’re talking to Cartman (The Coon). A silent character who’s appearance is fully customisable using the games expansive character creator. As you progress throughout the game you will also collect numerous outfit items and new hair styles etc so your character can be ever evolving and can be changed at any time from the game menu. If you have played prior Ubisoft titles, you are even able to unlock some iconic character outfits by spending your uPlay points right from the beginning of the game.
Fractured But Whole has you progress your character using deep but straight forward RPG mechanics. Throughout the game you will develop your own super hero origin story, one that changes every time you unlock a new class. You initially pick your abilities from one class but as you progress, your talents and play style can become extremely varied as you gain the ability to multi-class.
There is also an artifacts system that allows you to equip items into DNA slots that become available as you level up. These slots can be filled with various pick ups or mission rewards (the game’s loot), most of which are notable items from South Park lore and boost the characters might level.
While the story and humour are the highlights of this game, the travelling around isn’t. Even though it’s great to be able to wander around all of South Park, looking like you’re actively controlling a live episode, I found that after collecting the visible pick ups and using my various fart powers to Fartkour around for the hidden environmental puzzle rewards that travelling between mission objective points became a low point. There are ‘Fast Travel’ points scattered throughout the map, that Jimmy will hilariously run you between, but these are few and far between and are often not anywhere near main mission objectives making it quicker to walk.
By far the highlight for me though was the combat system. In The Fractured But Whole the combat has been revamped as a grid based strategy system. As a lover of Final Fantasy Tactics, this was a great way for Ubisoft to tackle the combat. It was surprisingly deep, full of various mechanics and with each character in your party having different fighting styles, abilities and movement capabilities it allows the combat to be extremely flexible and keeps you always thinking what to do next.
As the game progressed I did find some of the jokes and dialogue lines that generic enemies say during the course of combat to be highly repetitive and lost the impact they had the first time I heard them. There are other characters that give you multiple of the same style side-missions, and while I understand they add extra bulk to the game, I found myself pushing through them just to get to the next main mission or progress the story.
I loved my time spent with South Park: The Fractured But Whole. It feel’s like you are controlling a really long episode of the series and pulls no punches when it comes to the comedy. There were a few times they really crossed the line of what would be acceptable for anything other than South Park, and I love that they had the guts to take that aspect that many viewers tune in for and throw it into the game. While some of the dialogue and repetitive style jokes did begin to lose their impact by the end, the overall writing, plot and characters had me laughing out loud all throughout my journey.
If you’re a fan of the South Park series, you’re going to love this. It’s packed full of references and Easter eggs from the show’s 20+ seasons and many of the smaller references will be more meaningful to those fans. It’s easy to see that Ubisoft and South Park Studio’s made this game ‘For the Fans’ and they nailed it. Saying that, I believe people that aren’t fans of South Park will still find plenty to love here, as long as they find the genre and adult humor to their liking.
A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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