South park: the fractured but whole
Don’t go breaking my fart
Oh! Butthole. Hah! Sorry, we only just put that one together.
If nothing else, The Fractured But Whole serves as the ultimate tutorial in gassy manipulation. Progressing through the returning New Kid’s latest adventure proves impossible without the aid of flatulence, which enables the protagonist to clear paths, inflict diabetic rage, and even manipulate time, such is the power of his/her windy behind. The once-christened ‘Douchebag’ of 2014’s Stick Of Truth has evolved into ‘The Farting Vigilante’ – the superhero destined to someday receive their own Netflix series. We’ve missed you, South Park. The premise is simple. Cartman, having grown bored with the kids’ previous Stick Of Truth fantasy, has opted instead to play superheroes with his friends, expectantly seeking the funds to develop his own movie franchise à la Marvel and DC Comics’ real-world efforts. In true South Park fashion, matters only escalate from there, with civil war, searches for a missing cat, and an unravelling crime narrative featuring as part of the fairly lengthy campaign.
But in truth, The Fractured But Whole proves less engaging than its predecessor in this area, with its uninspiring tale getting off to a particularly slow start. Subsequent bouts of boredom remain short-lived despite this, with parodies, social commentary, and good ol’ fashioned toilet humour filling the void amid the duller moments. Not every joke hits the mark, but in the context of its length, The Fractured But Whole provides plenty of chuckles.
The biggest enhancement over the series’ previous entry can be found on the battlefield. This time around, the basic combat elements of The Stick Of Truth make way for a more complex grid-based system, granting participants the ability to move freely within a certain area. This addition allows for more grandiose and diverse battles than before, where planning your next move doesn’t necessarily mean picking the best attack in your arsenal.
Battles are complemented by a variety of deeper RPG elements, too. You can unlock multiple classes of superhero (such as cyborg, assassin, and blaster) as you progress, allowing you to strategically mix-and-match abilities at will, while bonus-granting artefacts provide a customised edge in combat. Even the new crafting system (introduced by Morgan Freeman, because why not?) provides a welcome, if bare-bones, addition to the series. As a collective, the new tactical components work to deliver tense, entertaining encounters from battle to battle.
And, of course, exploring the town of South Park remains a delight. The quiet mountain town has barely altered (for obvious reasons) since the first iteration, but the implementation of 60fps gameplay combined with minimal loading screens helps to retain fluidity and momentum throughout. It only ever loses its charm when you’re forced to do a lot of mission-required backtracking, but even then, there’s always something to investigate along the way.
Naturally, this means it delivers a high degree of fan service. There’s ample opportunity throughout to bask in references to the show and enjoy in-jokes, many of which line the main plot itself. This will undoubtedly prove offputting to newcomers, but then, only a handful of non-fans are ever likely to dive headfirst into The Fractured But Whole. Ultimately, whichever category you align with, you’re guaranteed to stumble upon a surprisingly in-depth RPG, offering the kind of charming authenticity that TV tie-in games have long strived to achieve. Just don’t forget to bring a towel, mmkay?!
“Offers the kind of charming Authenticity that TV tie-ins have long strived to achieve”
This isn’t the first time South Park’s superheroes have appeared on screen. ‘Mosquito’, for example, originally appeared in the episode ‘Coon 2: Hindsight’. Filling this meter allows any of your team members to unleash their Ultimate Ability. Use it wisely, and you’ll turn the tide of battle. The New Kid benefits from an array of cosmetic upgrades as before, with the ability to alter race, gender, and sexuality as you go. The revamped combat requires a heavy focus on positioning. Find yourself in the wrong spot, and you’re gonna have a bad time.