Ut­terly ridicu­lous, and ut­terly sat­is­fy­ing

Business World - - WEEKENDER - By Alexan­der O. Cuaycong

SOUTH PARK: Stick of Truth was a game that was much, much better than first im­pres­sions con­ceded. While its graph­ics were sim­ple, tak­ing its art style and much of its hu­mor from its tit­u­lar Com­edy Cen­tral show, South Park: Stick of Truth pro­vided a level of pol­ish that didn’t look pos­si­ble from such a sim­ple-look­ing game. Fea­tur­ing an en­ter­tain­ing turn-based com­bat sys­tem, South Park:

Stick of Truth was a sur­prise hit; it proved in no un­cer­tain terms that it wasn’t just a cash grab tar­get­ing fans of the se­ries. It was an amaz­ing adap­ta­tion of a tele­vi­sion se­ries, and a good game in its own right. Now, with South Park: Stick of Truth’s suc­cess ap­par­ent to all and sundry, South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole, its se­quel, cer­tainly has big shoes to fill and a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions to live up to. Does it come any­where close?

In many ways, the an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes. The idea of se­quels has al­ways re­volved around the lat­est re­lease be­ing big­ger and shinier and its im­me­di­ate past pre­de­ces­sor. In this way, South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole eas­ily de­liv­ers. Set a day after the events of South Park: Stick of Truth, it once more shines a light on the ex­ploits of the New Kid, who gets be­tween groups in­tent on de­vel­op­ing su­per­hero fran­chises. With the help of fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters (the taque­ria-man­ag­ing Mor­gan Free­man in­cluded), the New Kid must keep the town from be­ing over­come by crime. En route, play­ers get to ex­plore a larger map, with plenty of op­tional ar­eas in the town to visit in search of trea­sure. Fast Travel points are dot­ted along key ar­eas to make back­track­ing eas­ier, and it’s of­ten good to do so, as lay­outs can be re­vis­ited and pro­vide much-needed loot and gear. Its craft­ing sys­tem is rather generic, but gets the job done all the same, as it re­wards play­ers who ex­plore and do bat­tle, with better gear and more ef­fi­cient heal­ing items.

The com­bat strays away from the JRPG- like me­chan­ics of

South Park: Stick of Truth, and in­cor­po­rates a grid-re­liant turn­based sys­tem, al­low­ing for more tac­tics to shine in com­bat. Strat­egy be­comes an im­por­tant part of ev­ery fight, as cer­tain at­tacks de­pend on the spe­cific po­si­tions of the pro­tag­o­nists. Of­ten, at­tacks will cause sta­tus ef­fects or knock en­e­mies back, deal­ing

ex­tra dam­age if they col­lide into an­other char­ac­ter. That said, these very en­e­mies can do the same in kind, lead­ing to a care­ful bal­ance be­tween of­fense and de­fense.

And here’s the kicker: The level of cus­tomiza­tion is pleas­antly in- depth. The su­per­hero theme works well in giv­ing South Park: The Frac­tured but

Whole a sense of pro­gres­sion. There’s some­thing hugely sat­is­fy­ing about go­ing through the main story, as each chap­ter not only en­hances char­ac­ters by giv­ing them ad­di­tional at­tacks or by un­lock­ing al­ter­nate classes, but by also chang­ing their ap­pear­ance, re­li­gion, and even sex­u­al­ity and gen­der. These are small things when viewed from the big pic­ture, but they fit per­fectly with the source ma­te­rial’s tongue- incheek hu­mor.

On the down­side, South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole finds it­self un­able to sus­tain its mo­men­tum; it fal­ters some­where in the mid­dle. As good as it is and has the po­ten­tial to be, it winds up try­ing the pa­tience of play­ers with its repet­i­tive game de­sign. Even dis­re­gard­ing its con­tro­ver­sial hu­mor and dark com­edy, some of the jokes, while le­git­i­mately funny, tend to get reused too of­ten for com­fort. More­over, its con­stant use of quick-time events dur­ing bat­tle, while amus­ing, can get tire­some. Even some of the better as­pects of ex­plo­ration, such as us­ing a party mem­ber to clear an ob­sta­cle through elab­o­rate puz­zles, gets painfully slow when the same

prob­lems are faced again and again.

Cred­itably, South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole does try to shake things up. Var­i­ous me­chan­ics, such as the hi­lar­i­ously fourth-wall- break­ing mi­cro- ag­gres­sion me­chanic, are in­tro­duced at a mod­er­ately fast pace to break up the flow of com­bat and add in­ter­est­ing as­pects to bat­tles. This, along­side spe­cial moves in the form of Time-bend­ing farts and spe­cial at­tacks, can com­bat the grindier, slower as­pects of South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole.

Over­all, bar­ring the oc­ca­sional lip-sync­ing is­sues and an­i­ma­tion bugs, the game should last and func­tion well through­out its re­spectable play­time of 20 hours or so on nor­mal dif­fi­culty. It’s a me­chan­i­cal up­grade over South Park: Stick of Truth, and a ver­i­ta­ble must have for fans of the se­ries. For oth­ers, the of­fen­sive hu­mor and the sim­plis­tic look­ing art-style are bar­ri­ers to ap­pre­ci­a­tion from the get-go, but their in­vest­ment of time will yield them a trove of value via an in­ter­est­ing com­bat sys­tem, a ton of con­tent, and at the very least, a laugh or two. South Park: The Frac­tured But Whole is ut­terly ridicu­lous, and ut­terly sat­is­fy­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.