‘South Park: The Fractured but Whole’ is crude, unapologetic
Harassing delinquent sixth-graders, doing combat with grouchy strippers and saving the town from yet another alien invasion is all in a day’s work for South Park newest hero: you. South Park: The Fractured but Whole is an amazing superhero RPG adventure with very few, if any, negative aspects that highlight the imaginative psyche of children. Still boasting the same jokes, the South Park series has grown up in so many ways.
Most only remember South Park as the poorly animated show about obscene fourth-graders that their moms didn’t allow them to watch. For a select few, such as myself, the series has been a casual interest that you slowly fall in and out of love with as yet another new season premiers. Then there are the hardcore fans that boast about their abilities to quote specific lines from the show. For those that are curious about this game, The Fractured but Whole is a special case; in that, it appeals to all crowds simply because it’s a fantastic game with fresh, invigorating combat and a hilarious, over-the-top story.
The Fractured but Whole loosely follows the events of the first game and essentially follows the same set- up plot. You play as the New Kid who just moved to South Park and partake in the daily and sometimes deadly, adventures of your fellow classmates. Though this time around, instead of playing a parody of Dungeons and Dragons, you and the other kids are now superheroes complete with a brand-new combat system that completely changes the game.
You join Coon (Cartman), the vulgar masked vigilante and leader of Coon and Friends in order to solve the mystery of a string of missing cats in South Park, so that your group can claim the reward money before your rival team the Freedom Pals, led by the immortal Mysterion (Kenny). Much like the first game, your investigation takes you and the rest of the boys to unprecedented destinations that are clearly not fit for children or anyone that’s easily offended.
Writing this review, it’s extremely difficult to put into words how obsessed I became with this game. The story is far past stellar and breaks new ground, despite being a sequel. Being a huge nerd of superhero movies and culture, I was sold on this concept when the creators of the show announced it years ago. There’s just something about the premise of superheroes that’s so basic yet powerful, and this game crushes the concept and twists it on its head by giving the power to irresponsible, disgustingly hilarious children. Second identities are created, heroes from alternate timelines appear and the range of powers continues to astound me.
Much like the first game, there is a deeper, more emotional side of the obnoxious fart jokes and heavy- handed lowbrow humor. Despite the large amount of crude humor, the game tackles the ambitions and past struggles that push the characters to take up these alternate identities. Your parents are very abusive towards each other because of their heavy drinking and marijuana use. Kyle is forced to handle issues dealing with a needy yet lovable cousin. And Stan is burdened with the thought that he could have stopped his father from binge drinking long before the problem actually took form. The writers take these storylines and properly flesh them out, giving greater depth to these characters that have existed for over a decade.
As mentioned earlier, the gameplay in Fractured but Whole heavily mirrors the first game, but it adds a pivotal element that alters your play style. This game is a full- fledged, addicting RPG from detailed character creation to laborious quests. The turn-based combat system is fast and easy to pick up so anyone can start whooping drunken hobos and City Ninjas. Though this time around, you can actually move before you strike, which adds a depth of gameplay that I initially didn’t think would make much of a difference, but this single aspect forces you to think critically about your characters’ placement before making your move, truly making each combat section a simplified game of chess. When the fights begin to get difficult, it won’t be rare to win simply because you made the right call in placing a hero in a certain spot.
One of the defining aspects of this game is its peculiar character customization, which takes place throughout the length of the game. The final choice you make to fill out your character sheet happens 14 hours into the game. Fractured but Whole initially received controversy before being released because of its option to choose your difficulty based on your character’s skin color, where the darker the skin, the more difficult the game will be, but as you’re selecting, Cartman reminds you that “combat difficulty will not be affected, just every other important aspect of your life.” Beyond skin color, you’ll fill out a character sheet with gender, race, nationality, even your sexual preferences as the game goes on, and none of it actually changes the game in significant ways, but it’s a nice, meaningful touch to diverse gamers. I was finally able to fulfil my dream of being a black Japanese pansexual cis-gender male, and I loved every second of it.
You’re also able to choose what class you want to be, which can range from cyborg, assassin, speedster and many more. The game covers almost every mainstream superpower in the game, and you can try them all out. It’s honestly pretty amazing how each power gives you unique abilities to use throughout your exploration of South Park.
All of the negatives of this game stem from the comedy that’s sometimes very absent. As I consider myself a man of zero comedic tastes, I howled at every inappropriate joke that Cartman spouted, especially the continuous, overdone joke that your superhero backstory is that you tragically walked in on your mom and dad having sex…multiple times. Though, as expected for a series spanning 23 seasons, many references were lost on me, and at times it seemed as if the creators haven’t grown much since the show’s debut. Fart jokes hide behind every corner, and it gets old very fast. Though, another great joke is that Wendy is the only female superhero and dons the heroic title of “Call Girl,” which I found kind of clever. Also, every time I type the title of the game I chuckle a bit, so that was an excellent call on the creators’ parts.
Overall, Fractured but Whole is close to a perfect game in my eyes. The combat is great and highly addictive. The story is hilarious, and I actually felt like I was a fourth-grader in Stan’s, Kyle’s, and Cartman’s class just hanging out with them and playing superheroes after class. I loved every second I was able to pick up the controller and shatter the fabric of time with my farts, and I only want more!
South Park: The Fractured but Whole is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for $60, and it comes with the prequel game, South Park: The Stick of Truth free with purchase!