Developer: Ubisoft, Ubisoft San Francisco
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Window (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 17th, 2017
At first glance you might mistake The Fractured but Whole as being a 20-hour long season of South Park that you can binge watch in a few days. It has all of the humor that South Park is known for, the social commentary has been upgraded and is more funnier than ever. The biggest difference between this and a episode of South Park is we aren’t just watching the boys go on an adventure, we get to join in on it.
You return as the New Kid. After raising to become the the King in The Stick of Truth, the kids decide to switch games and dawn their superhero personas. This leads you to once again becoming as no body. All of your previous achievements are forgotten and must now prove yourself as a superhero. Like in Stick of Truth, the kids are split into two factions. Once being Coons and Friends and the other being Freedom Pals. What starts off being a simple plot line of trying to find a lost cat so that Coon and Friends can use the $100 reward to start their own superhero franchise. However nothing in South Park is simple. This simple case of a lost cat turns in a larger conspiracy involving cat urine in alcohol and the police.
Returning as the New Kid you will be able to unleash your amazing fart powers once again. This time your farts are literally so powerful that they can bend the fabricates of time and space. One of the first power you will unlock is a time glitch fart. Using this fart will allow you to reverse time. Another fart pauses time and you even get a fart that will change night to day or day to night. All of these farts will allow you solve puzzles as you explore the town of South Park. You can even use your farts in combat as well. Using the glitch will skip a enemies turn while pausing time allows you to gets some free hits on as many enemies as possible within five seconds. In order to acquire these amazing fart powers you will need a recipe for a burrito. You get the recipe from Morgan Freeman who for some reason owns and runs his own taco store. I’ll admit I laughed like a little kid every time I used one of these farts.
The combat in The Fractured but Whole is still turn based but unlike Stick of Truth the turn past combat isn’t using the JRPG like system but instead going for a tactical 3-D grid allowing you, your allies, and your enemies to move around the environment. I prefer this this combat system over the one in Stick of Truth. I found older combat to be rather simplistic and while the new combat is still simple there is a new layer of depth to it.
Being able to move around means that there can be turns where you don’t get to attack your opponent and the same for your opponent. You can also set enemies up for knockback attacks. Let’s say you have Super Craig on your team and decide to punch your opponent. The attack will push them pack a bit and if one of their allies or your own is behind them your opponent will then suffer knockback damage. Again it’s not the most advanced combat system when it comes to RPGs, but I did find that it added some much needed strategy that was lacking in the previous game.
Combat isn’t as simple as clicking a button and watching your character attack. You still have to be active when attacking. Once you select your attack, depending on what attack you are using, you’ll then have to press the space bar on the PC version at when you see the prompt or prompts or you’ll just have to mash the spacebar quickly. Now you don’t necessarily need to do participate in these little QTE events but by doing so you will gain extra damage and add effects with your attack.
One thing I love about the way the combat is down is how the game still manages to be funny even in the middle of an intense battle. I am not just talking about characters saying something funny either. You can be in the middle of a heated battle and suddenly someone will yell out,”Pause! Car!” The kids will immediately stop playing and move to the sidewalk, with the driver normally telling them not to play on the streets. There are plenty of other great movements that happen but I don’t want to spoil them. I feel that if The Fractured but Whole used any other type of combat then it just wouldn’t be able to have moments like that. Most of the comedy would just come from verbal jokes.
Being that you are playing as a superhero it only makes sense that your attacks match that of a superhero. When you starts off you’ll be able to select between three classes. A speedster with the power to run and hit your enemies really fast. A brutalist with the power to hit hard. Then there’s the blaster with the power to light people on fire. Each class as their own strengths and weaknesses. Last on you’ll be be able to select a second and even a third class. You can choose to use all of the abilities from your chosen subclass or just mix in the abilities you want. By the end of the game I was an assassin with the power of speed and could control plants.
Each class also as a ultimate ability that charges after each attack and when you get hit by an enemy. One the bar at the top of the screen fills you will then be able to use your ultimate ability. These ultimate and dish out a ton of damage and are super fun to watch. The only downside to the ultimate abilities is that they can’t be skipped. After watching the same lengthy cutscene over and over it does get a bit annoying and just makes you wish you could just skip to when the attack actually lands. Again they are fun to watch and most of them are actually really creative but after the third time of seeing Captain Diabetes get diabetes rage from eating a ton of sugar, it just loses it’s charm.
My only issue with the combat comes down to some of the fights you get into. There are a lot of the fight in the game that have special objectives. Normally objectives like having to get to the exit in the nursing home. Or another one has you trying to catch up to Classie inside of a strip club. While doing this you have to battle endless waves of enemies and one named Spontaneous Bootay. Bootay can kill you in one hit. It wasn’t the fact that they had these objective in the game it was that they used them a little too often. Actually fighting Spontaneous Bootay would have been more interesting than just moving forward fighting waves of enemies.
Now that we’ve talked about combat, let’s talk about what you’ll being outside of combat. For the most you’ll be walking around and exploring the town of South Park. While there aren’t too many new locations to explore, I am actually fine with that. The game is supposed to feel like an episode of South Park and having the spots we seen regularly is better than adding in locations we don’t see often. There are a few new locations to explore. You can visit lofts at SoDoSoPa or even CtPa Town. I am a little disappointed that South Park’s mall is still unavailable to explore. I can only imagine what types of references they could have packed in something the size of the malls, or what type of fight you could have gotten into.
Exploring South Park you’ll be find loot such as costumes, artifacts, resources for crafting, and items that you can use in battle. South Park is also packed with collectibles to find. Chinpokomons have been replaced by Memberberries, finding cats for Big Gay Al, and gathering Yaoi paintings for Craig’s dad. Finding the cats and the paintings will even reward you with loot.
Costumes in The Fractured but Whole have taken a bit of a downgrade. You can still still get some pretty ridiculous costumes but this time the costumes are just purely cosmetic. In the previous game you could get costumes that could have certain abilities attached to it. So, it wasn’t just a matter of how your character looked but what powers your gear could have. You honesty could just go through the entire game in your starting costume but that would take away the fun of seeing your characters running around looking like a mummy with a pair of balls on their chin.
Strap-ons have take a bit of a turn as well. This time being called artifacts and are not being applied to your costumes. Instead every-time you level up you’ll unlock a artifact slot. Placing a artifact in this slot will boot certain statistics such as health, ally health, knockback damage etc. You’ll also gain DNA strands as well. These affect how your abilities work. You can equip a DNA strand that will boots the damage of your abilities. However with every positive change there could be negative changes as well. So, equipping a DNA strand that give your brawn abilities may decrease how much damage a ability that is governed by your brains statistic.
While I am a bit disappointed that costumes are just cosmetic, I do like what they did with artifacts and DNA strands. I found myself contently switching out artifacts for a more powerful one. The only thing I wish they would have done differently was not having your might being determined what artifacts you had on at the time. There were so many times where I wanted to keep a certain artifact slotted but I needed to increase my might in order to to a mission. So I had to go with the artifact that would give me the necessary might level but the time sacrificing certain stats. You can do the mission without the recommend might but depending how much much might you have versus the recommended might may make the mission a lot harder than it should be if you had the correct might.
Summons also make a return and I am a mixed on how I feel about the summons. While I am glad that they made it to where to can now use summons during any battle, including a boss battle, I am a bit disappointed that summons are now consumable items. Once you unlock a summon you are given five consumable items. Once you use all five items then you can no longer use that summon. The only summon that you can craft more of is Moses but finding the materials you need is nearly impossible. I also found that the summons weren’t as interesting as the previous game. Granted I did only unlock three summons but still none of them really stood out.
Performance wise the only thing I really experienced was framerate issues. For the most part I was getting solid 60 FPS but would sometimes drops below 40. These drops really weren’t distracting but it is worth noting since it did happen more than once.
Final thing I want to talk is graphics and sound. Really there isn’t much to talk about. Like The Stick of Truth this game looks and sounds exactly like an episode of South Park would. I feel that’s where a lot of the charm of these games comes from. If these games didn’t look and sound exactly like South Park then I don’t think these games would be as great as they are.
Overall if you enjoyed The Stick of Truth then you’ll most likely enjoy South Park: The Fractured but Whole. The improvements to the combat alone make it a worthy sequel. I did find the game to be a tad funnier than the previous game though it doesn’t have as many shocking moments like Stick of Truth had. The only real draw back comes down to replay value. After you beat the game there isn’t much to do besides finding collectibles, completing side missions and trying to defeat Morgan Freeman in a fight.
Final Rating: 8/10