Oh, what a joy it was to come back to the world of South Park, where it dances between outrageous parody, fart jokes and shock humor, and occasional jabs at our own culture with meaningful messages about what we should do as people. Then, throw an amount of garbage on it that shows that nothing really lasts. The Stick of Truth was an imperfect but still fun game where the references were aplenty, a full map of South Park was available to fans, and solid gameplay and explorations are encouraged in a too close to home fantasy game. Unfortunately, all I can say for The Fractured But Whole is that it was an average experience at best and not super at all, which is ironic considering their material.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole, developed by Ubisoft and South Park Digital Studios, is an action-exploration roleplaying game. Unlike the Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole includes more class and character customization, a new approach to combat, and new summons while keeping its new characters and tone from seasons 19 and onwards. However, the errors from Stick of Truth are more prevalent with the new battle system and gameplay.
Fractured But Whole leaves behind the gameplay that Obsidian Studios made for The Stick of Truth; Ubisoft’s take includes more strategy in movement and character placement in addition to item management, health, and party members. As before, you choose a class of superhero at the beginning, ranging from Speedster, Brutalist, or Blaster. Each one- from quick hits, close range damage, or damage at a distance- have their own strengths, weaknesses- either in enemy type or in strategy- and Super Moves.
Instead of staying with one class, you can multiclass your New Kid, customizing your arsenal to make a balanced, or purely offensive or defensive superhero of your own. Your party members compliment your gameplay and help you in exploration. Farting is still a major gameplay tool, with your anal skills letting you stop time for a little bit, skipping enemy’s turns, or summoning you from your tragic backstory for a brief moment. Crafting consumable items, taking selfies with South Park’s inhabitants, playing minigames, and finding collectables and fast travel stations also translate over to this game.
Where the game shines are in Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s tried and true South Park humor, but strangely toned down for an on average Superhero game where the best franchise wins. The main story itself is a fun romp as you search for a missing cat for a $100 reward while fighting the rivaling superhero franchise in “Civil War” fashion. Then, you stumble into a drug ring where almost everyone is in on it and all tying back to the most vile of villains, who I really have to give a hand to Stone and Parker for including in the story.
Now, of course, there are going to be references to the show that will satisfy all fans. From the recent seasons, there’s PC Principal, and then there are old favorites like the Crab People and the appearance of Cousin Kyle. Even with the Coon and Friends fight Freedom Pals, there’s Mysterion versus the Vamp Kids and appearance of Mintberry Crunch versus the monsters of Camp Tardicaca in DLC. But it is saying something when the Vamp Kid storyline is more interesting than a full campaign about outing a drug ring inside of South Park. Then again, the run time for the DLC packs are too short! While the new Netherborn and Final Girl classes in each respective DLC are fun to play with, the story content is either too short or too long in run time. Heck, even Mintberry Crunch not being in the main game- the only real superhero in Coon and Friends- is a tragedy! Don’t get this game on PC as it still has controller and game bugs.
The Fractured But Whole was supposed to be a solid translation of what the new South Park was and still is for fans and gamers, but with Ubisoft taking reigns of the project, something feels lost in translation. Maybe it was a perfect slap to the face, a fart joke, or that special spark that makes South Park what it is- partly an interactive continuation of a South Park episode.