by Gentleman Jeb
Note: UbiSoft provided us a review code in exchange for an honest review
As a long-time fan of the controversial TV show, I was thrilled when South Park: The Stick of Truth actually turned out to be a great game. It was a fantastic blend of retro turn-based gameplay with classic South Park humor and Game of Thrones references. So how did the sequel, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, turn out? Well, the answer to that question could very well create a civil war between fans of the show.
Most people love or hate South Park, but after 20 years, the fanbase has also split. I remember watching the very first episode on the night it previewed and thinking to myself, “how can they get away with constant profanity, fart humor, and butt jokes on public TV?” Nowadays, the show has a different tone, and it’s much more political. As a result, South Park: The Fractured But Whole will appeal to new fans of the show more than old-school fans.
This time around, the South Park crew eschews their massive Game of Thrones neighborhood roleplaying in favor of becoming superheroes. These are the same superheroes that appear in the show, so Cartman becomes The Coon, Stan becomes Toolshed, Butters is Professor Chaos, and so on. Not surprisingly, a rift forms between members of Coon & Friends, and the group splits in two similar to Captain America: Civil War. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but the plot begins with a group of superheroes searching for a missing cat and ends up with them dabbling in mutants, a political conspiracy, renegade Raisins girls, a potent drug made from cat piss, and a plethora of butt references.
Players take on the role of a new kid who joins Coon and Friends in order to develop his or her powers. At the beginning, the new kid is limited to using powers from one class, but eventually they get to mix powers from different classes. While the first game limited players to only a few classes, the sequel lets them select from ten classes. Unfortunately, player can’t really mix the powers up very much because only three moves plus one super move can be used in combat. This creates vastly wasted potential and discourages experimentation as most players will stick with what they know to be effective.
If it wasn’t apparent before, it’s now blatantly obvious that the creators of South Park (Matt Parker and Trey Stone) are rampant fecalpheliacs. Sure they always try to top themselves on the show, but this game takes poop humor to a new level! For starters, players can mount practically any toilet, and a skill-based mini-game challenges them to master each porcelain altar. There’s even a challenge to master numerous toilets for extra experience points.
This wouldn’t be a proper South Park game without farts, and this game offers extremely powerful butt burps in the form of Time Fart Powers. Time Fart Glitch is the first power to be unlocked, and it lets players reverse time while exploring or stop an enemy attack in mid-fight. Time Fart Pause stops time while exploring to let players navigate around dangersous obstacles, and it lets players pause the game and get in some cheap shots during combat. The last power is Time Fart Summon, and it lets players summon a past version of their character to help during combat. While extremely powerful, Time Farts can only be used once every three turns.
As if this wasn’t enough dooky humor, the weirdest aspect of the game revolves around buddy powers. These are special moves that players use to solve puzzles and reach new areas of the game. Most buddy powers revolve around butts, like Fartkour, where Stan and the new kid team up and use fart power to reach new heights, and Stan’s ability to plug a leaf blower into the new kid’s butt to blow away obstacles. However, the most freaky, weird, and downright disturbing buddy power is where Butters inserts his gerbil into the new kid’s butt, and he fires it out into a wirebox, which makes it short circuit.
Authentic South Park Experience
It’s fun to explore the town of South Park, as it looks exactly as it should and it feels like playing an episode of the show. There are numerous side quests to undertake that overuse the “fetch” mechanic, but they reward players with experience points and force them to explore every inch of the map. It would be nice if there were “offsite” places to explore, though, as everyone who played the first game now knows the map of South Park by heart.
My biggest grip about this game is the same as the first game. It’s too damned easy! I played it on both medium and hard, and neither offered much of a challenge. I wish there was at least one or two more difficulty levels as that would offer incentive to replay the game. Not only is the combat too easy, but the loot also becomes meaningless about 2/3 of the way through the game as crafting artifacts is the most effective way to increase power.
While I love playing turn-based tactical RPGs, obtaining and changing into wacky new superhero outfits, and reveling in all that is South Park, I can’t help but feel as though South Park: The Fractured But Whole has a lot of wasted potential. Some of the content from the first game has been recycled, the town is too small, fetch quests are boring, teammates cannot be customized, and players should have more than four powers at a time. Lastly, I didn’t find this game to be nearly as funny as South Park: The Stick of Truth, which probably means that I’m an old-school South Park fan.