South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Fans will love this flatulent sequel. Others will pinch their noses and run
Our biggest takeaway from playing South Park: The Fractured But Whole is farting; farting our way through a lap dance, farting a couple of drunk stripclub patrons unconscious, and farting into a cocktail of ‘boogers n’ cum’. Maybe you’re chuckling right now, or maybe you’re squirming uncomfortably. Whichever it is, your reaction to that intro will tell you right away whether this game is for you.
You are once again the new kid in town, but this time everyone’s playing ‘superheroes’. Your bespoke avatar is thrown into the middle of a rift between Cartman’s crew, Coon and Friends, and Mysterion’s Freedom Pals. Starting out as a sidekick to the uncoolest kid in South Park, Scott Malkinson, you eventually work your way up the superhero hierarchy to roll with Cartman and co.
In our hands-on, we infiltrated the not-so-subtly named South Park stripclub, Peppermint Hippo, in search of a missing cat. The animation is perfect, in so far as it’s indistinguishable from an episode of the show, and the backgrounds teem with visual gags and references to the series—a man at the urinal sending wayward streams on the floor, several of the South Park boys’ dads ogling the dancers, a transsexual stripper poking her head in during a battle to ask if anyone wants a dance. If you like SouthPark, you’ll be in a state of fond, perpetual giggling.
There’s a new combat system offering more depth by letting you move around on a turn-based grid, utilizing the environment, and combining the 12 character classes to maximum effect. It works well enough, as we despatch drunk patrons using a combination of snowball flurries, double-team moves and, of course, farts, but it still feels shallow—a gameplay-lite excuse to listen to some crass dialogue written by none other than Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
We’ve always been ‘sure, why not?’ about SouthPark. We’re privy to the odd runny-shit/shit-out-ofmouth joke, but after 15 minutes of
persistently interacting with ondemand farts, condoms on ceilings, and cocktails that feature ‘rat shit’, we felt exhausted. For us, excrement jokes are manageable in bite-sized chunks (urgh), not multi-hour sessions as this game encourages.
The TV show thrives in making viewers uncomfortable (the Britney Spears and Michael Jackson episodes spring to mind). The equivalent here is giving a flatulent lap-dance to a couple of drunk stripclub patrons who confuse you for short women. Yes, you—a child—are giving a lapdance to a man in a rhythm-based minigame. It’s ‘Funny’ because ‘Farting’, or something, but we found it rather obnoxious, lacking any of the satirical undercurrent running through similarly uncomfortable scenes in the show.
Not that SouthPark fans are likely to be put off. Producer Kimberly Weigend told us that one of the goals here was to “make it pretty much just an extension of the show”, and that’s what Fractured But Whole is.
There’s little novelty here, and from a pure gaming perspective it’s only marginally less rudimentary than
StickOfTruth, but if that’s your cup of smug farts, then by all means take a deep, indulgent sniff, and enjoy. For people who can take SouthPark or leave it, the stench may be a little stale by now. For haters, it will be as insufferable as ever.
“If you like South Park, you’ll be in a state of fond, perpetual giggling”