South Park’s sequel to The Stick of Truth arrives at a time when political correctness rests on a bubble. It’s easy to offend these days and Matt Stone and Trey Parker hold nothing back. Such is evident as soon as you start the game and your skin color determines the difficulty of the game. Cartman lets you know the difficulty setting won’t affect your combat, but rather loot amount and other “aspects of life”.
The opening scene was a throwback to Stick of Truth as you’re thrusted into a Game of Thrones-like battle for a combat tutorial. Combat has advanced from the simple turn-based system to a grid system reminiscent of XCOM and other recent strategy games. The player will choose from three fighter classes: Speedster, Brutalist, and Blaster. Brutalist and Blaster classes are tank and range classes, respectively. I went with the Blaster class to switch it up from my usual tank choice. Also, one of my personal favorite characters, J-J-Jimmy, stars as the Flash Pass; so, I couldn’t possibly steal his thunder and go with the Speedster. If you do choose the Speedster, you get a nice agility boost, meaning more frequent turns in combat. Eventually, you’ll have 10 classes to choose from and be able to stack classes.
The graphics are a bit crisper than the original game, getting so close to the show you feel like you’re actually playing through a long episode. The gameplay can get dull if you just focus on looting; something I’m guilty of from my time with RPGs. I would recommend to either play on difficult or just push through the storyline. I’m a huge fan of minimal load times and quick saves, and Fractured But Whole takes care of those issues. Load times are barely existent. Even when you do get a load screen, you’re given obvious tips that will give you a quick lol. If you have the Ubisoft Club app, you can earn free add-ons through regular achievements you’d earn through the storyline anyway.
The mechanics of the game are simple enough that it’s easy to put the controller down and step away without fear of losing your place. You won’t lose your groove after days, weeks, or months of gaming, making it easy to take your time without having to binge.
If you were a fan of Stick of Truth and the lore of South Park, there’s tons of content to keep you laughing and ‘membering’ throughout the game. While the game is loaded with content reminding you of the show’s 20+ year run, it’s just as full of downtime with long periods of silence. You’ll find yourself wandering, looting for items that likely have nothing to do with progression of the story. The first 30 minutes was spent creating a character and learning the new combat system, only to actually battle twice in the next two hours.
The gaming industry has become slightly obsessed with open-world games and the ability to choose your destiny. If you’re looking to get away from that concept, then you will probably enjoy South Park’s masked linear progression. I use “masked” because it doesn’t force you into progression, but it greatly narrows down the possibilities of what you can access. I was looking for a bit more free-choice out of this sequel since I got through Stick of Truth in two days, but I’m not wholly disappointed. At least it’s a switch-up from the games of late.
Stone and Parker we’re clearly involved in every aspect of this game, and it shows. They have a way to push every button they can and provoke that feeling in you that makes you say “what the fuck” while shamefully laughing out loud. I admittedly did both of those while fighting off a pedo priest in the back room of the Catholic Church. I wouldn’t expect any less. Am I proud of that? I don’t know. I do know that South Park has never disappointed me in that regard.
Fractured But Whole might not be worth the full price at launch unless you are a diehard fan that collects merch of your favorite shows. I would recommend it for any fan of the show at a sale price, since you’re pretty much guaranteed laughs from some of the filthiest minds in entertainment. I give South Park: Fractured But Whole a 6, sadly because it didn’t give me much more that the original. I went into the game hoping for a change, but felt more like I got an expansion of Stick of Truth.