In 2014, South Park: The Stick of Truth released as the perfect love letter to fans of the long running South Park series. Developer Obsidian Entertainment took a chance and proved that a quality game can come out of the long-running television series. Three years later, a new South Park game has arrived, developed by Ubisoft San Francisco. Fortunately, South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a worthy sequel that improves upon the formula set by its predecessor.
The Fractured but Whole picks up a couple days after the ending of The Stick of Truth. During an engaging opening battle, Eric Cartman convinces everyone to start role-playing as superheroes in an effort to create a billion dollar superhero film franchise with his friends. As with every episode of South Park, your journey in the game will take you to some strange places with mostly hilarious results. South Park has always been known to really walk the line between comedic brilliance and outright offensiveness and this game is no different. There are moments throughout the main story that will definitely make you question the absurdity on the screen. While there are some memorably crude moments in the main story quests, it never gets too out-of-control that it damages the flow of the story. After all these years, South Park hasn’t lost its step in providing excellent satire, ridiculously stupid moments, and creating new discussions to be had. The Fractured but Whole walks a very balanced line of producing hilarious moments while also telling an intriguing story with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
As you progress through the story you will also be collecting new gear to change your appearance and earning artifacts to improve your might. While the outfits you collect only change your character’s appearance, it is still fun to grab something new and customize your character to match your liking. The character customization, for the most part, leaves much to be desired with an overall lack of initial options. More options are unlocked as you advance through the main story, but it raises the question of why they weren’t available in the first place. There is a memorable option for choosing your character’s skin color that is of course controversial, but well done. Some collectibles return from the first game such as using toilets and gaining followers for Coonstagram which in no way is a hilarious rip-off of Instagram. A new collectible are the Yaoi art pieces, which ultimately leads to a sometimes tedious and sometimes amusing scavenger hunt around town.
For the most part, The Fractured but Whole is an improvement from the first game, but not in a terribly drastic way. Visually, the same superb graphics carry over from the first game and still look just like the television series. Most of the game’s location is the same as we have previously seen in the first game, which can often make the environments feel lazy and boring. Exploring through South Park the first time was a blast, but this time around there is a “been there done that” type of feel.
The turn-based gameplay returns which is similar to what we know from The Stick of Truth, but the small changes made mixed with the superhero themed attacks bring new life to an established formula. There are new farts which you can unlock and they work surprisingly through combat, often changing the tide of battle when unleashed at the right moment. Three allies can accompany you in battle, but what really shine are the 10 classes which each have three unique attacks and an ultimate move. The variety of gameplay caters to multiple styles perfectly, not to mention the fact that you can collect gear for your superhero and personalize your hero to your very liking.
Collecting artifacts helps improve your character’s might, which in turn strengthens your attacks leading to increased damage. Unfortunately, obtaining maximum strength is a little too easy, resulting in a lot of the side content rewards becoming irrelevant. The Fractured but Whole has a lot more inside jokes this time around, particularly with the artifact collecting, which is great for fans of the series. You can feel the grace and craftsmanship put into this game which is a wonderful homage to the TV series.
Whether it was epic moments before or during a battle or simply exploring the landscape, the music is effective throughout and creates a nice atmosphere. Side content is sparse after completing the main story, outside of a few lackluster fetch quests that don’t offer much payoff. Even the more notable side missions like going toe to toe with a certain Academy Award winning actor or helping to rekindle a broken relationship, the end result is underwhelming. You will get more out of these side missions if you do them during the main story, rather than after the fact.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole continues the trend of success and improves upon the original game. The story is expertly well done, the dialogue is hilarious, and the gameplay is as much fun as it has ever been. While it is disappointing that the game does have an issue with both end game and side mission content, the main quest alone is worth the price of admission. South Park: The Fractured but Whole continues the tradition of being hilariously crude, witty, and provides a solid experience for any fan of the series.