Game Review: South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Xbox One)
Good South Park games had been in short supply across the years. So when fans heard that we were going to get an RPG done in the style of the show with the creators actively involved they naturally celebrated. While also treating it with an air of suspicion. I mean come on, we’ve never had a good South Park game & those who say the N64 FPS is good have some serious nostalgia goggles on!
The Stick of Truth wasn’t just a good South Park…it was a great South Park game. Managing to capture everything that has made the show so successful while also being a damn fine game to play. It was a resounding success so a sequel was probably inevitable.
Fast forward 3 years & we finally have the much-anticipated sequel, South Park: The Fractured But Whole. However, this time the situation is different. The level of expectation is higher & anything but a great game wouldn’t be good enough.
So, the question is…does The Fractured But Whole meet those expectations?
Happily, the good news is that it does meet those expectations…with a huge fart to the face. South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a great game that once again captures exactly what makes the show so good. While also being a fun, interesting & exciting play. Those expecting a re-thread of The Stick of Truth will be pleasantly surprised by the changes made.
You are the ‘new kid’ still, silent to the annoyance of many of the characters. After spotting a reward to whoever finds a missing cat called Scrambles, Cartman decides to assemble the Coon & Friends superhero team. They want the money so they can start their movie franchise but have to face off against the opposing team of the Freedom Pals. The two teams split after a disagreement over the future of the franchise.
Initially you’re not invited to play but eventually Cartman (or The Coon) relents & agrees to make you part of the team. You begin your adventure as a lowly sidekick with a disturbing back-story.
As you explore South Park you will be dealing with petty crimes & completing quests for many of the denizens. However, along the way you will uncover a bigger plot that threatens the very existence of all superheroes!
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a fantastic & very accessible RPG. One that takes the last few years of the series’ & turns it into a hilarious open-world game. Once again, the town of South Park & all its buildings are open for you to explore. Some areas can’t be accessed until later in the game though. When you unlock buddy abilities, but for the most part you’re free to wander where you want.
South Park is once again beautifully recreated but with added locations likes SoDaSoPa that reflect the modern show. All of the characters you love are here with plenty of side-quests being dished out. Quests such as finding out who is keying Randy Marsh’s car every night, finding all of Big Gay Al’s cats or repairing Tweek & Craig’s broken relationship. There are loads to do & the rewards make them well worth doing.
One of the biggest chances & improvements here relate to combat. Still turn-based, a new grid system adds a much deeper & strategic way to play. Tactical thinking is necessary & positioning of your characters is the key to winning.
The grid system adds much needed layers allowing chain attacks, knockbacks, and differing powers. You really need to plan your attacks & defence according to just who you’re facing off against.
As well as each character’s unique moves there are buffs, debuffs, elemental magic & summons. You also have a bar that increases as you’re attacked & once full means you can unleash characters ‘ultimate attacks’ along with an awesome looking animation.
At the start of the game you’re allowed to select your class from a fairly substantial choice (psychic, speedster, brawler etc) but as the game progresses you get the option to choose even more classes & combine powers giving yourself much more variety in attacks.
With a huge number of team-mates available as the game goes on, getting a group that works perfectly for you is important. Each member of Coon & Friends and the Freedom Pals have unique abilities that can make many of the fights a piece of cake.
There is also a wide array of enemy types to fight throughout the game. You’ll be going up against Ninjas, Raisin Girls (who have the annoying ability to charm your own team into attacking you), Police Officers, Crab People & many other unique South Park characters. The boss battles are imaginative & thrilling with each one offering plenty of challenge.
The quality of the combat can’t be understated. You’ll hardly ever want to avoid a fight because of it.
As you level up you can equip artefacts that you collect around the town. These increase your abilities & overall team might. To add more depth, you can also customise your costume with an absolutely huge amount of choices available. These don’t affect gameplay but are a nice addition to make your superhero feel like your own.
All of these options are found in your phone. Which is brought up with the simple push of a button. In there you’ll also find Coonstagram, Cartman’s rip-off of Instagram. You’re tasked with taking selfies with most of the townspeople to get the Coon & Friend’s name out there. More of a side distraction then an important task though. It is addictive & a great opportunity to meet the characters. Some will even require you to complete certain tasks first before they will agree to take a selfie.
Also in the phone is the crafting option where you can combine items that you find into consumables such as health packs & revive drinks. Go check out Freeman’s Tacos (Morgan Freeman owns a shop in South Park) & he will teach you how to make powerful tacos & wraps!
South Park is filled with collectables that all have hilarious connections to the show. As well as collecting Coonstagram selfies, you can also find Yaoi art pieces of Tweek & Craig and my personal favourite, jars of ‘member berries.
You can wrap up The Fractured But Whole’s story in fairly quick time (10-12 hours) but you’d be doing the game a grave injustice not to explore & do side quests. With all of that included there is easily upward of 25 hours’ worth of gameplay here.
It was hard to see just how The Stick of Truth could be topped but it has been. South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes everything great about the previous game & improves on it in every way. An incredibly impressive game that everyone should play, even if you’re not a South Park fan.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
The Final Score - 9/10