South Park: The Fractured But Whole review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

It?s still pretty remarkable to me that after 20 years South Park is still rolling, and in some people?s opinion, making some of the best shows they ever have. It?s even more impressive that after 20 years they?re making some of the best game adaptations as well. During South Park?s rise we saw a bunch of licensed game releases (Chef?s Luv Shack, anyone?) and for the most part they were Mr. Hanky poo, so I never expected a good one to ever see the light of day. I?m glad that I was wrong and 2014?s The Stick of Truth was a blast to play and actually one of my favorite RPG games as well as one of my favorite releases from the last console generation. So here we are three years later and it?s time for the inevitable sequel, but could it possibly live up the the original story and gameplay that The Stick of Truth introduced?

I?m not going to leave you hanging, The Fractured But Whole is almost as good as a Canadian royal wedding, just without the ceremonial throwing of Captain Crunch. The Fractured But Whole builds on everything established in The Stick of Truth and adds some great improvements. While much of the game is similar to The Stick of Truth, it does enough to not come off as a cheap cash in sequel. Written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the game plays like an extended version of the show and this time the kids are playing superheroes and we?re dropped in immediately at the end of The Stick of Truth. You play as the non-talking new kid and with the help of the Coon, you develop your superhero character.

Your superhero choices are obviously inspired by the comic book heroes we all know and many jokes are inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC?s recent movie nonsense (sorry, I?m a Marvel Fanboy). While in The Stick of Truth, you chose your character class and a couple other choices throughout the game, The Fractured But Whole expands on that greatly (this will be a trend throughout this review). You choose the type of power your hero has when you start your adventure, but as you continue you unlock more abilities as well as the choice in customizing which moves you can use during combat. Beyond the superhero abilities there are many other choices and some are quite hilarious so I?ll reframe from spoiling them, but let?s just say you need to fill out your character sheet and once you start up the game you?ll see what topics that might include.

Like I said earlier, The Fractured But Whole plays like an extended version of the show and I?m not talking about just the story. The gameplay and graphics look exactly like the TV show. You would be hard pressed for anyone to tell the difference between the two when there isn?t any HUD on the screen. The Stick of Truth pulled this feat off as well, but it still doesn?t change how impressed I am with how the game is presented. One of my favorite little touches is when you load your save it makes the jingle that the TV show so famously uses when it comes back from break; it?s that level of detail that sits with me. I know the people that made this game are fans of the show and really poured their hearts into this release. Gone are the days of South Park kart racers, trivia games, and invading turkeys.

The over-world in The Fractured But Whole is very very similar to The Stick of Truth, and rightfully so. As I said before, the game takes place shortly after The Stick of Truth and how different would you expect the town to be? I, for one, enjoy being able to walk around the town I?ve watched on TV since I was 12; it?s kinda like how The Simpsons had Springfield all available for Hit and Run… after all, The Simpsons did it! Since three years have passed since The Stick of Truth, there has been some additions to the town during the show, so they made sure to include those (check out the lofts at SoDoSoPa) and some other surprises along the way. Plus don?t forget about this past season?s fan favorites, the member berries! (member Chewbacca?!) Scattered throughout the town (similar to the Chinpokomon in The Stick of Truth) you can collect member berries and listen to their sage-like knowledge and memories.

Let?s talk about Kombat (hard to not join in the parody fun). Combat improves on what was built in The Stick of Truth, as is tradition. Before you were locked into stationary positions and turn based attacking. Now there is a battle area that you can move and strategize. Moving is completely necessary and sometimes required in particular battles, and you’re also introduced to a time altering ability that can change your opponent?s turn (this isn?t available immediately). So you have customizable attacks, the ability to move around the battle area, but what would a superhero RPG be without teammates? The Fractured But Whole has no shortage of heroes/friends to share the battlefield with. All the kids have their own superhero personas, some better than others (Captain Diabetes!) and you can pick and choose who you want to fight alongside with. This is personal preference and can also be key to winning and losing battles as the kids have special abilities, such as healing that can be more necessary in certain fights.

One problem with any RPG can be repetitive gameplay, and The Fractured But Whole does suffer in this area slightly. One totally optional element of the game is the ?feature? of going doody in whatever toilet you’d like. You see your character has some magical bowels, and I?ll leave it at that (your reviewer has some magical bowels but it?s not appreciated by his wife). Whenever you decide to make a number two, you’re treated to a mini game of pushing one out, and each toilet has a star rating which changes the difficulty of the mini games. They’re mostly basic and optional, but you just can?t help but go in each toilet you see and it just felt tired and repetitive after about 3 different bathroom trips.

Either you’re a South Park fan or you’re not (and this review sounds like babbling nonsense). So that above all else, helps you decide if this is a game you should purchase. If you are or ever was a fan of the show, you absolutely can?t go wrong with The Fractured But Whole. Licensed games have come such a long way and I?m so happy to see the time and effort put in to a franchise like this and it truly pays off in the end. So warm up with a shake weight, rock out to some Lorde, put on your favorite Columbus costume, maybe snack on a little Cr?me fra?che (enough Randy references?) and enjoy one of the best licensed games of all time.

Grade: A-