Title: South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: Starting at $59.99
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
Release Date: October 17
The Grade: A-
South Park: TFBW Haiku Review
You join Coon and Friends
You are the new kid again
Just as good as “Stick”
What is it? The sequel to the popular 2014 title, “South Park: The Stick of Truth.” Gamers once again take on the role of the New Kid and join “South Park” characters Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman on over the top adventures. This time, players join the Coon and Friends superhero team and battle Professor Chaos, sixth graders and a number of other trouble makers in order to keep South Park safe.
Highs: Taking a beloved TV franchise and turning it into a good video game is an incredibly hard thing to do, just ask anyone from “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy.” But with the direct involvement of “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, “The Stick of Truth” made something challenging look easy. The game was so good in fact, that I gave it the Gazette Golden Controller Award as the 2014 Game of the Year. I’m sure it sits in a place of honor in Matt and Trey’s office.
Three years later, the duo is back at it. This time with the giggle inducing title “The Fractured But Whole,” and they’ve yet again made something hard to do look easy. This new game has made significant improvements from its predecessor and is packed with in-jokes that “South Park” fans are sure to love.
The gameplay in “The Stick of Truth” could feel a bit clunky but this new title allows for greater control of your character. Initially players can only choose from three hero types but that eventually grows to 12, and each one offers something unique. As you work through the game, you don’t have to stick to one class. Gamers can change their class at any time and eventually can even make their character multi-class. Players can also manipulate stats like movement range and health with collectibles. The ability to switch up your race, gender, or sexuality at any time adds to the game’s sense of freedom.
The turn based combat system has been fine tuned. Combat, which at times in “Stick of Truth” could be cumbersome, has greater variety and is less monotonous. I particularly liked being able to team up with a greater number of allies. With up to four members, “Fractured” allows players to finally assemble a truly effective team that can fit any play style.
Of course, as a long time fan of “South Park,” I particularly enjoyed the game’s ridiculous sense of humor. The pics of David Hasselhoff in Tom’s Rhinoplasty, Morgan Freeman’s recipes/crafts for Mexican food/power ups, and an absurd toilet mini-game are just a few of the more outlandish and printable examples I can list here.
Lows: Chances are there’s not much here for you if you’re not a long time fan of “South Park.” The humor is crude, the behavior of fictional elementary school kids is deplorable, and the adults aren’t much better. And if you’re not into the TV show, every dorky reference will fly right over your head. This isn’t a game for kids or those who aren’t long time “South Park” fans.
While “Fractured” makes a number of improvements over “Stick,” it lacks some of the novelty of its predecessor. Exploring South Park, interacting with characters from the show and checking out places you’ve only seen on TV are things you’ve already done if you’ve played “Stick of Truth.” While there are certainly new areas to explore and new characters to interact with, this latest iteration just doesn’t have that new car smell.
The Grade: It may not be as unique but in many ways “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” is superior to “The Stick of Truth.” A funny title with a ton of personality, this new game is a must own for “South Park” fans.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.