Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure, Action & Strategy
Release Date: 24th of April, 2018 (EU & NA)
“So come on down to South Park, and meet some friends of mine.”
If you are a parent and are looking for a wholesome game that you can leave in the hands of your children, while you go into another room, to do some housework, or something else entirely, then South Park: The Fractured But Whole is certainly the worst game you could let them play. But for us adults who grew up with the series, it’s pretty fantastic!
Based on the ludicrous adult animated TV series that debuted in the 90’s, developed as a sequel to The Stick of Truth and made as a game, instead of being a movie, The Fractured But Whole carries on the story of the New Kid, and if you haven’t played the prequel, it’s not the end of the world. Although The Fractured But Whole does have many references to the previous game, in many ways, it’s a lot like Super Mario Odyssey. There is a game and many things to do, but there are so many easter eggs, it’s untrue. From certain areas playing songs from certain episodes, including the Kyle’s Mom song from the South Park movie, to faces old and new. (Big Gay Al and PC Principle being two of them,) there is a lot to be appreciated. So, yeah, if you’re a fan of the TV series and have been watching it for years, there is plenty for you to notice and if you haven’t, then a lot of the jokes and references will pass over your heads, as you miss out on a lot.
What’s more impressive than the fact that Trey Parker, Matt Stone and the development team, worked really hard to make The Fractured But Whole a game that features 20+ years of South Park in a single package, is the fact that a game like this, is on a Nintendo platform. That’s not to say South Park hasn’t been previously present as South Park, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack and South Park Rally were all playable on the Nintendo 64, but The Fractured But Whole is simply wrong on so many levels. From scenes of nudity, foul language, your character standing helplessly as someone dies, destroying toilets and more, South Park is a game that completely goes against the values Nintendo games try to convey. Then again, maybe that’s why it works so well.
Since the launch of Switch, we’ve been seeing a different side to Nintendo, DOOM is proof of that and third-party support is only getting better and better, which is music to my ears! Ports of old games or not, Skyrim is something of a classic these days and for some reason, if you haven’t played it, there’s “something wrong with you.” Thanks to the Switch, Nintendo fan girls and boys have had a door to another gaming universe opened up to them and we’re really finally getting the chance to play games that were previously denied to us. Talking of games that were previously denied to Nintendo gamers, let’s start talking about The Fractured But Whole, shall we?
With an art style meant to recreate a recent episode of the TV series, with writing and dialogue that makes the game come across as a South Park film that you can play, The Fractured But Whole is a 2.5D role-playing title, from a third-person perspective. As for the story, it continues the exploits of the New Kid in Colorado. Only, the fantasy setting used ever so well in The Stick of Truth, is soon replaced with Superheroes, as Eric Cartman and friends are changing games and it’s time for Coon and Friends to build their franchise and stop the crime wave that is now plaguing their fictitious city.
In a lot of ways, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a lot like it’s prequel. The player can freely explore their surroundings, but there are some areas that are inaccessible to you, until you’ve advanced far enough. Classes are also back, except this time around instead of things like Fighter, Thief, Mage and Jew, there’s Assassin, Psychic, Cyborg, Speedster, Blaster and Brutalist. The last three are the first set of classes you can choose from, with many more being available later on, as your character can have four different classes, which can be changed. However, every time the game wants you to have a new class, Cartman will take you back to your childhood, to the tragic night of when your dad had relations with your mum and you couldn’t do anything to stop it, because you were busy fighting off intruders.
Also returning is a fast travel system, which is afforded to you by the Speedster hero Fast Pass (aka Jimmy). There’s also a level system that lets you earn experience and level up, provided you engage in battles against Stan’s dad (Randy Marsh,) Chaos Minions, etc. and complete objectives. One such objective, requires you to find Yaoi involving Craig and his now ex-boyfriend Tweek. (Yaoi is a Japanese genre of fictional media that is often created by female authors, intended for a female audience as the fictional media focuses on the romantic and sexual relations between the male sex.) As for who wants these intimate images, it’s Craig’s dad. Why he wants them? I don’t want to know, but if collecting things is of interest to you, you can find the images all over South Park, much like a whole ton of artifacts items that can be sold, or used for crafting new items, artifacts and costumes, of which there are many. (Some costumes can even have their colour changed, so customisation is available, including the customisation of your own original character.)
When not wandering around, taking in the sights and the humour, there are also battles and this is where The Fractured But Whole gets hard. While it is true the game features a difficulty system that can be changed at any time, which just so happens to make your skin darker, the harder the mode, The Fractured But Whole is not afraid to get difficult. In fact, if you’re not paying attention to upgrading your character and making sure you have the right moves, when it comes to time for the turn-based battles where things like bleeding can be inflicted, The Fractured But Whole can become very difficult indeed and you’ll find yourself losing more times than you win.
Not only can the battles be long and hard, but with status effects, microaggressions, Ultimate Move animations, item usage cut-scenes (cheesing makes a comeback,) there is a lot to see and learn. Thankfully, if you have played The Stick of Truth, or are a fan of strategic games in general, you will do better than most who play, as battles aren’t just about dealing the most damage you can in a single move, it’s about being in the right place at the right time, so you can win the war. Still, if the battle system doesn’t put you off, there is some bad news. I can’t believe I have to say this, but there are no Chinpokomon to collect this time around. Instead, it’s just the Yaoi of Craig and Tweek and Memberberries. (Hey, ‘member the Memberberries? Yeah, I ‘member.) Not only are the back, but they’re all over the place, just waiting to be discovered. But should you feel like you want your character to get the full South Park experience, believe me, he/she will.
With New Kid’s still incredible farting power that can be used for all kinds of things like destroying toilets (gas it up and squeeze it out,) solving puzzles by firing out hamsters from your non-facial cheeks that your Buddy, Professor Chaos (Butters,) has shoved up there, there is plenty to do that doesn’t involve fighting. Things like giving a businessman a lap-dance, clearing away lava and even having a chat about your sexual orientation with Mr. Mackey. You can also join forces with him to try and get Craig and Tweek back together, but that will result in a battle, much like going to church does, as going into a dark room, will see you having to fight off priests.
You can also make friends and take selfies with everyone who thinks you’re cool enough, as every hero needs to be popular and Coonstagram is the hit thing right now. There’s also a nocturnal side to South Park, which is where the darker side of The Fractured But Whole, comes to life. Still, as much of a delight as The Fractured But Whole is to play, the handheld experience might not be the best as The Fractured But Whole, is in no way a game you can play in public without headphones. It also seems to be prone to freezing, so even though there is an auto-save function, you will want to save your game as often as you can. Also, on the off chance, there isn’t a costume you like, if you have a Ubisoft Club account and are signed in, advancing through the game can earn you coins that can be used to buy Club exclusive items, such as an Assassin’s Creed outfit. But for the sake of saying it, if you’re looking for the perfect South Park experience in video game form, The Fractured But Whole is a greatly improved version over its prequel and is a whole lot of awesome!
While it might only be necessary that you’ve played The Stick of Truth, to catch all the game references, being a lifelong South Park fan, is simply a must. The Fractured But Whole is South Park at its finest (the last few series of the show have been questionable at best,) and it’s the perfect upgrade to the game that came before it. Sure, the Switch release doesn’t come packed with all the DLC like Switch owners had hoped for, but if you’re looking to expand upon your experience and make your stay in South Park an even longer one, the means is right there in the eShop. Just know that this game is so bad, it makes Gun*Gal 2 look tame and that’s saying something!
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Ubisoft
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This post was written by Solid Jack