REVIEW – The fans of the cartoon series have already been waiting for the game, which even received a build-up episode to it. The title itself – The Fractured But Whole – is a pun on an anus in pain, which somewhat gives away what the delayed-several-times game is about.
Although this time, the developers were not Obsidian (Fallout: New Vegas), TFBW (I’m going to shorten the game’s title from now on) has managed to keep the charm that The Stick of Truth had three and a half years ago. It’s a South Park product that you can call an interactive episode, and it’s not a disappointment for those who are fans of the cartoon. Its humor is cruel, sometimes even aiming further than what Comedy Central airs, and visually, it’s on par with the cartoon even with a change to the internal Snowdrop engine (used by The Division).
From magician to superhero
There’s another difference here from The Stick of Truth: while the kids were roleplaying an RPG (roleplayception?), in the direct sequel, the children of South Park now act as superheroes, divided into two teams. Marvel vs. DC in Parker-Stone style! The new kid, whose name is… the new kid (yes, that’s right), now has more customization options, as you can now choose the costume as well as the superpower. Refer to the game title. Your ARSEnal will improve as you slowly discover the whole of South Park.
TFBW would not be a great game if there we no combat, which also saw an overhaul. While The Stick of Truth offered a turn-based combat system with properly timed button presses, here, you’ll be able to move around the battlefield (which I’d rather call a grid), along with your three team mates. Moving and aiming attacks will be necessary to be learned as quickly as possible, making strategy important this time around, which refreshes The Stick of Truth’s experience. Well done, Ubisoft: in a quarter year, the publisher launched two tactical RPGs, the other one being the Switch-exclusive Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which I jokingly call XCOMario.
It’s – obviously – exaggeration, but still: parts of the town, as well as a few items, will not be accessible by default, but if you roll the story forward, you’ll soon find yourself capable of accessing them. It’s about as gassy as Fartkour could get – I have never seen parkour in such a way before, and using the rear exit for time travel is another… interesting idea. There’s a problem here, though: by using these skills, you’ll hear lines of dialog and see cutscenes, which will repeat over and over the game, and you will find yourself bored of them. This issue goes hand in hand with another thing called the good ol’ backtracking. I just can’t believe how Ubisoft couldn’t address these after several months of delay!
Graphically, I have no problems with TFBW – it never wanted to be super realistic. Audio, music? Perfect: South Park‘s style was imported over perfectly. The ambiance is also flawless, which might make you question why the rating is below your expectations? Well, the game doesn’t seem to offer you money that easily, which is… hm, a little questionable move by Ubisoft.
For South Park fans, obviously yes
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a sick game, but positively. No matter which side you prefer (Freedom Pals, Coon and Friends), this game is easily one of the best South Park game adaptations, but it might somewhat be behind The Stick of Truth. It now requires more strategy than before, and it lacks a shocking scene such as TSoT’s testicle-dodging boss fight, but it’s still a decent game. I’m giving it an 8.1 out of 10, and for fans, it’s a 9. Those who don’t follow the series that well might be missing some of the references… but luckily, there’s a one-hour demo on PS4 and X1 that could help you make the decision about buying it. Maybe…
+ Perfectly recreated style of the series…
+ …as well as its atmosphere
+ The combat system improved positively
– If you don’t follow the series, you’ll not understand all references
– Some of the animations and the backtracking will become boring in no time
– Somehow I think the glory of The Stick of Truth isn’t present anymore…
Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco
Genre: South Park, (tactical) RPG
Release date: October 17, 2017