Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, have literally proven they can do almost anything. They’ve made a TV show, an academy award nominated film and a Tony winning musical. All they really have to do now is make a great game, something they came close to doing in 2014 with South Park: The Stick of Truth. After two years, the duo is back with a sequel that has deeper gameplay, more RPG options and more farts than ever before.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes place immediately after the events of The Stick of Truth. This time, the boys are now playing as superheroes and Douchebag, your character, hasn’t adapted to the new game. The story, this time, is a parody of the on-going superhero trend in films. Coon and Friends are attempting to spin-off their franchise into a series of films and Netflix series, but a civil war breaks out when a faction of the Coon and Friends thinks they’re getting a bad deal. Thus sets the stage for The Fractured But Whole.
The E3 2016 demo picked up at Cartman’s house, painstakingly recreated for the game. Cartman and the remaining Coon and Friends had barred themselves in the basement, locking Douchebag out with a password protected keypad. Douchebag’s objective was to find the passcode through exploration. In The Fractured but Whole, everything you find has purpose. The team at Ubisoft have created a new crafting system that rewards those who explore South Park and accumulate enough items. This section also took Douchebag to the bathroom where he showed off his amazing sphincter control, a returning power from The Stick of Truth.
Eventually, Douchebag found the code and made his way down to Coon’s lair, and there he finally got a superhero identity. Ubisoft San Francisco has completely revamped the class system from The Stick of Truth. Each class plays very differently from one another, and there are a lot more of them. At launch, there will be more than eight classes to choose from, including the brutalist and speedster. Each class gets its own origin story that not only adds a note of tragedy to your character but also teaches you the ins and outs of your class. The additional classes unlock as you complete the game, and can be changed at any time.
Combat was overly simple in The Stick of Truth. Relying heavily on QTEs and timed-button presses, the combat in the original game came off as simplistic. So, Ubisoft San Francisco has gone back to the drawing board to come up with a new, more complex combat system for The Fractured but Whole. While the sequel is still a turned-based affair, almost everything else has changed. Combat now takes place on a grid with the player and AI taking turns moving their characters around and attacking. Think Fire Emblem, but much smaller maps. Positioning is key here with all characters classified as attackers, tanks, or ranged. This system is far more complicated than The Stick of Truth, and it’s for the better. Combat in Stick felt like a chore, but Fractured actually makes it worthwhile and challenging.
The final big addition to The Fractured But Whole is parkour, or ‘Fartcour’ as it’s called in-game. Fartcour allows Douchebag to team up with one of his allies to perform some stunt. In the demo, Douchebag teamed up with Kyle, whose kite powers allowed him to reach greater heights. Sure enough, the duo found a collectible hidden at the top of the building. While it sounds cool, Fartcour can’t be used whenever you want, but only in pre-determined locations around the town.
Of course, we can’t forget what makes South Park: The Stick of Truth so unique: comedy. Much like The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole feels like an extended episode of South Park. It has all the humor, the characters and ludicrous situations that only Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny can get in. This time, however, the game surrounding this episode is far more enjoyable. The combat is far more strategic and there’s actually a reason to mindlessly explore and collect random stuff. South Park: The Fractured but Whole is willing to dish out the laughs with a healthy side of gameplay.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole is out December 6 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.