South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Xbox One Review
The first RPG title from Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s South Park Digital Studios was South Park: The Stick of Truth, which was released back in March 2014, having suffered numerous delays and setbacks. It became one of the most talked-about titles, even sparking some controversy over some its censored scenes from the game. Although The Stick of Truth didn’t win any noticeable awards, Trey Parker did win one for lending his voice talents for the game against Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Fast forward three years and we have finally being treated to a sequel to the brilliant Earthbound-inspired title with South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Again, suffering numerous delays and setbacks, having supposed to have been released Christmas last year, but does it live up to it’s predecessor?
Come On Down To South Park And Have Yourself A Time…
Events begin the very next day from the events that happened in the first game, and with kids being kids, they have decided that elves and wizards is so ‘yesterday’ so in comes ‘future’ Cartman, all dressed up in his Coon outfit warning all the kids of an event that is yet to come, that is causing all the cats in South Park to go missing – cleverly playing upon superhero themes, especially movies. In fact, the entirety of the game is a gigantic parody of Marvel & DC comics and movies, poking fun at all the clichés, themes and complexity that goes along with it. For example, one of the early boss fights that introduce you to the mechanics of the game is that of ‘The Human Kite 2’; Another Human Kite (Kyle Broflovski) from another dimension played by Kyle’s annoying cousin. Human Kite can’t fight him because of “Paradox and stuff” so it’s up to you to fend him off. When in reality, all he wanted to do was be just like Kyle, but when Kyle told him “There can’t be two Human Kite’s”, Kyle had to come up with a superhero explanation for there being two of him. I digress…
Fighting Is For Cissies
You begin the game once more as the New Kid, where you’ll immediately recognise the places and locations from the first game. You’re quickly introduced to the basic combat manoeuvres. As in the first title, you and the enemy take it in turns to make your move, be it an attack or a defence option, until all the players are knocked out. What’s different this time around however, is the actual battle space and what you can do during said battles. In fact, they’ve expanded and improved upon so much from the Stick of Truth that I’m quite sure I haven’t seen this specific battle system implemented in an RPG before. The battle space varies from battle to battle, but the general consensus remains the same: On your turn you can move your character a set number of spaces and perform an attack or other action. Then the enemies take their turns, as depicted in the timeline at the bottom of the screen. Each character in your party has their own unique set of skills, but each attack/ ability has its own radius at which it deals damage to or heals to. One attack for the new kid might attack in a straight line in front of you and knock foes onto enemies behind them, where another attack might have you controlling Fast Pass (Timmy spoofing on The Flash) where he attacks in a diagonal direction. This adds much more complexity to the original battle system. Gone are the endless button mashing of attacks and timing; although timed button presses are still there to boost up your attack slightly, making fights much more strategic.
‘Member When Things Were Basic?
In fact, the whole game adds more complexity and diversity than the original, but don’t let that deter you from this title as everything is done perfectly. Considering the brains behind the game are avid gamers themselves, they’ve pretty much nailed down every aspect of RPG gameplay you can think of.
Where the first game’s inventory screen resembled Facebook, they’ve opted for an iPhone layout this time around, complete with settings – where you can customise the background of your phone, view any pictures you’ve taken and even change the look of your phone. Want a cracked or smudged phone? You’ve got it! With it resembling an iPhone, it also has ‘apps’ that get installed onto it the more you progress through the game. Some of these apps include Coonstagram; a parody of Instagram where you can take selfies with the characters you come across in the game, an inventory app so you can view any mission items, consumables and crafting resources you’ve found and even a map app.
The map has had a bit of an overhaul and now has a mission list direct on the map app, where you can set a mission as the current quest and view where all current missions are situated. There is also a ‘legend’ showing you where all the vendors, main quests and side quests are located, amongst others. The actual quest system has had an overhaul too. Each quest has a Might rating which shows you the recommended might you need to be. Might can be gained by finding and crafting Artefacts that boost up various attributes for yourself and your team. Of course, the first artefact you’ll be handed looks an awful lot like a fidget spinner.
There is a Factsheet app within the iPhone which shows you all the quests you’ve completed and any quests that you’re currently undertaking such as using all of the toilets found in South Park and achieving a ‘master rating’ on each one will net you some XP, or finding all the Yaoi posters (much like the chinpokemon quest from the first game). The more you discover, the more the quests will unlock for your factsheet. there really is a ton of turds to do.
Let’s Talk Mmkay…
As with the majority of South Park episodes, the dialogue is genuinely funny, clever and current, albeit some vulgar language and plenty of fart jokes – but hey, if you’re a fan of South Park then you’ll be used to it. If not, then you best get used to it, as this is probably the second ever game to drop as many F-bombs in the dialogue than any other. The whole story to The Fractured But Whole is what you’d expect from a great South Park episode, or season rather – and the best episodes, in my opinion, are the Coon episodes, so what better way to incorporate that into a whole game. And it works exceptionally well. You’ll come across pretty much every recognisable character from the South Park universe, some making another appearance from the last game.
A plethora of references to modern culture, TV & film, gaming and previous episodes of South Park will have you relating in some shape or form and even saying to yourself “I ‘member this”. Even referencing the likes of Life Is Strange! They’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves either as at one point in the game, you approach a bus stop that says ‘DLC’ above it (presumably this is where you go to access content for future DLC) and at this bus stop resides a gentleman who has been waiting for this bus for “Three years”. Another comment made by this chap is: “This bus was supposed to arrive in December” – absolutely hilarious.
Overall, The Fracture But Whole is better that The Stick of Truth in every single way. And that’s no exaggeration. They’ve taken an already-brilliant formula and provided a story twice as long, features twice as much and doubled the dose of comedy. The Stick of Truth may have been a little fractured, but this game is certainly whole.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is available to buy from retailers, or can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £54.99. The purchase also nets you The Stick of Truth.
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