South Park: The Fractured but Whole review
We’ve waited patiently for the next installment to the South Park game series. After a couple of delays, The Fractured but Whole has arrived and boy do things kick off with a bang. Pulling no punches from the start, the warped sense of humour that the TV series has become renown for plays fiddle to a story of warring factions as Cartman and co change up the game from fantasy to super heroes.
Reprising your role as ‘The New Kid’, crime is out of control in South Park. Cats are vanishing and it’s up to you and ‘Coon and Friends’ to save the cat and collect a reward, which will be used to establish your franchise of super hero films. Much hilarity ensues with the gang inadvertently uncovering a devious plot that climaxes in an outrageous ending that only South Park could get away with. It’s random, makes little sense but is so excellently executed, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a feature length episode of the TV series.
The story picks up after The Stick of Truth. Cartman becomes bored with the game and wants to play super heroes – think Marvel versus DC – Coon and Friends versus Freedom Pals. In true super hero style you must pick a class, which includes a backstory that doubles as a tutorial for your newfound powers. Eventually you convince Cartman to grant you several classes, allowing you to mix and match skills to create a fighter that suits your style or tweak on the fly to stack up against certain enemy types or boss battles.
The turn-based battles are simple yet strangely addictive, with an elegance to how you place your team on the battlefield and use each character’s attacks – every attack has a range and area of effect – offering a more tactical style of combat from the first game.
The new kid also has an additional tool up his/her sleeve trousers and can unleash a powerful fart that can stop enemies from having a turn and bolster the Coon and Friends’ attack. Additionally, a super gauge builds as combat progresses and numerous items can be used to heal or summon other South Park characters to step in and help the gang – some of which are limited in their use.
The fart humour continues, with plenty of toilet jokes that will make you squirm with laughter – and sadness that you found it so funny. These powers must be used while navigating the town of South Park to reach areas or clear paths that are blocked, but to do so you must make friends with the kids of the neighbourhood and combine your fart with them – although I won’t ruin how you combine arse to friend.
I’ll admit that I found it all pretty hilarious, although you will need a certain warped mindset to find it laugh out loud funny. At times the humour is close to the cuff, especially if you aren’t familiar with the South Park humour of late. You may even find the racial, sexist and general potty humour a bit too much. To be honest though, it’s a little tame by South Park standards although I do feel bad for laughing so hard at the gags. Unfortunately, the humour doesn’t last and wears thin midway through the film game.
Side missions and mini games make an appearance but do so without interrupting the flow of the game – unlike so many other open world games – meaning the narrative flows well. Meanwhile, random fights against other South Park factions never become a burden while traversing the streets and only the activities of shitting in every toilet or grabbing the numerous selfies bordered on becoming tiresome.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole may be one for fans of the show but it’s also an enjoyable game with some super humour, if you’re that way inclined. While the game can be accused of lacking innovation and becomes repetitive with combat and mission structure, the strength of the story and lengthy cutscenes will blur the boundaries of game and film/TV episode, while uncontrollable bouts of laughter will, if you stop for a moment, remind you of how bad a human being you are for laughing at such dirty jokes… but I loved it.