South Park: The Stick of Truth was one of the surprise hits of 2014, so it was hardly a surprise when a sequel was announced a year later. After a couple delays, the latest game is here, and for better or for worse, it’s more of the same.
What Is It?
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (and we’ll use this part to give you some time to laugh at title) is a direct sequel to The Stick of Truth and takes place literally a day after the events of that game. Once again, you play as the New Kid, and as you get ready for the day as the new king, it turns out Cartman and company are playing something else–the always cooler fight between the good and evil–superheroes.
Every hero has his or her origin story. Your origin story? The person you trusted the most, your dad, had sex the with the only other person you care for and trust just as much, your mom. Cartman explains it in a more profane fashion, and yes, it’s stupid. All the kids in South Park agree that it’s stupid too, but hey, at least you’re playing the game. Of course, not only are you now a superhero, but almost everything you get involved in also has some over-the-top consequences in the world around you, but I’ll leave that for you to find out.
Why Should I Care?
Like The Stick of Truth before it, The Fractured But Whole is outrageously funny, mostly thanks to its insane writing and the series’ staple clever dialog. You don’t necessarily have to be a fan of South Park to enjoy the game, but you’ll definitely need to have an understanding of the general gist of the show. If you go in knowing who at least the main kids are, odds are high that you’ll enjoy everything the game has to offer at least as far as its presentation goes.
As for how ridiculous things get, when you first boot the game up, you’re actually required to select your difficulty by choosing your skin color. So if you make yourself black, the game will be at its most difficult. This actually all ended up being a joke, as your skin color in the game doesn’t affect anything, and you actually get to choose an actual difficulty setting later on in the main story. Without starting any fights, I would’ve preferred my race affecting things, but it’s understandable that the developers didn’t go that route.
Ditching the medieval life to become a superhero is the game’s alibi for essentially starting over. That means meeting everyone again and taking selfies to become friends on Coonstagram (instead of Facebook like in The Stick of Truth) as you approach everybody in South Park. The town itself is about as big as it was in the last game (not including Canada) and it’s still a joy to explore. Whether it’s meeting the different kids and people, looking around for different collectables, or taking a crap at every toilet you see, it’s easy to get preoccupied by the simple yet deep world South Park provides. There’s never a lack of anything to do in the game until you complete the story and grab everything there is to collect, and there’s a bunch of stuff to collect.
The main new feature in The Fractured But Whole is its revamped battle system. Combat is still turn-based, but instead of just taking turns attacking, it’s now all done on a grid to give it more of a tactical feel. While that’s hardly the case, battles are definitely more strategic than they were in The Stick of Truth. Not only do you have to worry about turn order, the layout and where everybody’s standing comes into play. Each character to use, depending on their superhero-based class, has limited movement and can attack in different patterns and spaces, so it’s really all about getting a feel for how each character moves and acts, which is simple trial and error.
The problem with the game’s battle system is that there’s a little too much trial and error. It doesn’t really do a good job of explaining how to make your party stronger outside of battle. Things like changing your character class, enhancing them, and even forging different kinds of items are essential tools to succeeding in the game, but I didn’t even start taking them seriously until I was at least six hours into the main story.
All that aside, for the most part, the game is on the easy side. Even when you get to the point where you actually get to choose your difficulty (not the racial choice) and choose the toughest one, everything is still pretty doable. So if you’re into it, getting a platinum in this game shouldn’t be ridiculously hard.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is every bit as good as the biggest South Park fan will say it is. Like The Stick of Truth before it, The Fractured But Whole‘s perfect presentation makes the game feel like an 18-hour episode of the show and a love letter to its fans at the same time, and it’s really all you can ask for. But because its predecessor was so amazing, it’s hard to ignore the fact that The Stick of Truth was indeed a trailblazer. Everything that makes The Fractured But Whole so special can be seen in The Stick of Truth, and that makes it hard to say it’s better.
All that said, if The Fractured But Whole is your first South Park game, you’re in for a treat. If it isn’t, you’re still in for a treat. Just don’t expect it to surprise you as much as the last one did.