Over three years later South Park: The Stick of Truth is still considered a masterpiece. While licensed games are much better than they used to be their potential has yet been met. In that game, Obsidian Entertainment took 15 years’ worth of South Park material and then used it to celebrate the show’s most outrageous moments. They used the video game as a powerful way of sending up RPG tropes and inserting hilarious interactive moments as well as scripted laughs.
While Fractured but Whole does not recapture the brilliance in the crude original, it’s by no means a bad game. Ubisoft has missed the mark, despite the effort put into making the RPG feel more substantial than last time the combat and exploration themes feel wrong.
The Good: Wizards are out, superheroes are in
South Park: The Fractured But Whole opens with a lingering battle seen previously in the last game, a parody of a Tolkien-star fight. Declaring that fantasy is out and superheroes are in, the boys whip their wizard hats off and swap them for superhero capes. Their superhero challenge is to find a lost kitty and get the cash reward, acting as psychotic as you can on the way. The player is the new kid in the neighborhood who is stuck between two warring groups; Cartman’s Coon and Friends, and their rivals the Freedom Pals who have fallen out over who will get their own Netflix show first. The player can swap out the allies before they fight them and you can swap out your pre-selected powers.
The game unfolds similarly to Stick of Truth. The user walks around the town of South Park and completes various quests. The city looks exactly the same as the show, and the characters are still voiced by series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The show’s official team assisted in writing the plot and dialogue, and there is a lot of dialogue here. The gameplay is a simpler version of the Mario-style battling from the previous game. All battles take place within grids and each character’s power blasts out in a grid-like pattern. This game does need some wits, it requires the player to arrange character matters and allies. In chess-like move characters can only move in specific directions and so many squares at a time, making the player have to use a forward-thinking strategy.
The Bad: Minigames stop being fun
The SP: FBW dampens the potential within the battle scenes, making them too slow and dull. The tactical RPG’s are better but don’t offer a lot of battle choices. Even on a higher difficulty level, there is still a lack of meaningful options or opportunities which leaves the player just repeating the same moves and strategies. The repetition is also in the plot; there aren’t enough bad guys, and the characters repeat the same catchphrases at each other.
There are more fetch quests than the original game, which does halt the main plot progress. These side quests lack the comedy of the original, there is some big comedy misses here like helping find Big Gay Al’s lost cat or controlling your bowels with mind control, they might be funny the first time but not after the seventeenth time.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole will keep fans of the show laughing, but the navigation and repetition of the puzzle mechanics are far too simple. But, it’s still a strong RPG with some good superhero parody moments.
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