South Park: The Fractured But Whole
DON’T GO BREAKING MY FART. $57 | PC, PS4, XO | southpark.ubisoft.com
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 you to clear paths, inflict diabetic rage, and manipulate time, such is the power of your 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.
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. In true South Park fashion, matters only escalate from there. But in truth, the game 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 amidst 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), allowing you to 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?
You can alter your race, gender and sexuality as you go.