South Park The Fractured But Whole is the funniest game you will play this year, and it is The Stick of Truth on steroids. The gamer is bigger, longer, and uncut and delivered actual laughs and many smiles from me.
The story puts you into the city of South Park as local superheroes take on a crime kingpin. It is authentically gross and delightfully offensive with a chance to interact with so many crazy characters from the show. If you like South Park, come on down and meet some friends of mine.
Since fantasy franchises are in the past, South Park has moved on to two superhero franchises. Coon and Friends is run by Cartman and Freedom Pals is led by Timmy as “Dr. Timothy”. Their goal is the same as any group of modern heroes – a multi-film universe and multiple series on Netflix.
The game is structured in a day/night cycle. You can solve problems for residents and generally ransack the entire town for loot during the day. At night, there is a longer mission with specific goals you have to achieve, and it is separate from the other missions. Each night mission ends with a spectacular boss fight as you try to uncover the mystery of what is happening and collect $100 for finding a missing cat.
Those missing cats (and mostly the reward money) make the Coon believe there is more trouble brewing, so he enlists the help of the New Kid. In the beginning, you can create your character from several classes with different powers, and you will run through these in your backstory. The class system expands later, and you can mix and match powers to make your hero more brainy, brawny, or a combination of the two.
Your customization options also grow throughout the game. Initially, you can choose your appearance from different category choices such as head, hand, eyewear, and costumes. Over time, you will collect or craft new items, and you can mix and match styles for something that is uniquely yours.
This is one of many improvements from The Stick of Truth. The clothing does not make the hero or boost your power, so you can wear whatever you want, including looking like a Raisin’s girl and many other choices that are close to but do not infringe on an existing superhero license.
You can find new items throughout the town, so check anything with a gold accent on a door handle, nightstand, backpacks, and chests hidden in every garage. Along with the different items to wear, you will find scraps, artifacts, recipes, healing items, and mission items. If you cannot find something, you may be able to buy it at the vendors or machines scattered in South Park.
Everything you collect can be used in the new crafting system. You can make burritos to restore your health, potions to revive your fallen comrades, new costumes, and powerful artifacts. The necessary components are listed for each item, and raising your crafting level will give you access to better health items and more costumes.
Experience can be gained for many different activities and is not limited to only missions. South Park The Fractured But Whole gives you goals for killing a certain number of sixth graders and other enemies, collecting the yaoi pictures hidden in the town, and for finding new artifacts or Big Gay Al’s cats. When I started, I was earning experience all the time.
The missions do provide the most experience, some of the best parts of the game, and the best artifacts.
Artifacts provide you with Might, and all missions have a recommended Might level. It is the South Park equivalent of being this tall to ride. The artifacts are stored in slots and stack up in value. As you find or craft better artifacts, you can boost your total Might. They will also give you better stats and some bonuses including higher knockback damage or ally health.
Your phone is the hub for anything you want to do. It has apps for artifacts, crafting, viewing your character sheet, and adding mutant DNA to make you more powerful. It is also the place to change your powers, clothing, and allies, and even change your phone settings and wallpaper.
As any franchise progresses, more characters become available, and your choice of allies may be the difference between victory and defeat. All of them serve different roles, so experiment to see who fits your style. There is plenty of banter while fighting, so expect to hear them criticize you if your turn takes too long.
Your phone’s most important function is Coonstagram. As you explore, you will find people who will let you take a selfie and post it to Coonstagram, Cartman’s social media platform of choice. More followers mean a bigger franchise, so get out there and meet people.
Some of the people you meet want to take more than your picture. Combat is immensely improved in South Park The Fractured But Whole. The turn-based battles typically begin with your team on one side of a grid and the enemy on the other. Every hero has a certain amount of limited mobility and three powers that can only be used in particular patterns on the grid.
A powerful punch from Captain Diabetes (one of my favorite characters from the game) can only be used when he is standing on a block to the left or right of who he wants to punch. If they are above or below him on the grid, he can move or try a different attack. Some powers can hit entire rows of enemies, strike all blocks around a hero, or even cause damage in an “L” pattern. Shock, bleeding, slow, and other status effects can be added to you or the enemy, and the turn order is listed at the bottom right of the screen.
By clicking the X button whenever you take damage, you can fill a meter for your ultimate move. Everyone has their own special move with an animation showing them powerup and deliver the attack. If I did not need a particular attack, I played Tweak’s and Captain Diabetes’ ultimate moves over and over, because they made me laugh.
As you might guess from the title, farts play a role in the sequel too. The New Kid has a new arsenal of time-bending anal arms for you to use, and Morgan Freeman is his flatulence sensei. He helps him to learn how to use his Timefarts to bend time to stop an enemy’s turn in a fight, stop time to allow him to punch enemies while they are frozen, and a few other useful skills. We get to see Jesus in the game, but it is reassuring to know that god (Morgan Freeman) is on our side.
As you explore the town, you can see, hear, and engage the minions of Professor Chaos, Raisins, sixth graders, ninjas, and the homeless in fights. If you walk over to them and hit them first, you have a combat advantage, and your team makes the first move. You can normally walk past them and avoid fighting completely if you are trying to move to an active mission.
The challenge can ramp up toward the end of the game, and the battle system becomes more complex and engaging. Watching the turn order, gauging which move will provide the most benefit, moving your characters in and out of range, and even punishing some insensitive fool’s use of microaggressions made the normally more deliberate turn-based fights tense and felt faster paced. The battles are very strategic, especially when you consider the best time to use your ultimate move and when to use your Timefarts.
Beyond fighting, there is so much to see and do in South Park, and the presentation is perfect. I know we thought The Stick of Truth looked like an episode of South Park, but The Fractured But Whole is an episode of South Park. The voices and sounds are perfect, and the game looks incredible. My spouse walked by while I was playing and assumed I was watching the show.
Even though some areas are initially blocked, you can explore the entire town and visit some of your favorite locations. They are changed in some ways from the first game, but it is mostly everything. There is a fast travel system, and Jimmy “Fastpass” Valmer will speedily deliver you to your destination.
Your allies can also unlock special powers that help you solve puzzles and make more areas available for you to see. The puzzles are found while using the Inspection Mode, and the four powers used to solve them are very unique, ranging from farting to reach higher areas or firing a guinea pig out of your butt to fry electrical circuitry.
My complaints are few. The final battle is very clever and fits the story, but it is a little anticlimactic after the protracted and difficult fights that brought you to that point.
I may have missed him, but I do not remember seeing Mr. Garrison. I know he is busy running the country, but a cameo would have been nice. The same is true for Mr. Hanky. Even though he had plenty of time in The Stick of Truth, a brief scene with him would have been great.
Lastly, the game crashed a couple of times during the 20+ hours I was playing. This is pretty much technically flawless in a modern AAA game without a huge day one patch, but I had to restart a couple of fights. Even with that aggravation, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone with a strong aversion to problems of that nature, and the game ran very well otherwise.
South Park The Fractured But Whole is a game for fans of the show, and it makes improvements to everything from the first game. Many games can make you sad, but few games can genuinely make you laugh. I laughed a lot while playing, and I was pushing to see each new crazy situation with almost all of my favorite characters in its cynical take on superheroes.
The presentation, combat, writing, and story are excellent, and it even has an after credits scene that hints at the future like many of the Marvel movies. After the credits, the game pops you back into the world to complete any other missions and find more collectibles you missed.
As an entire experience, South Park The Fractured But Whole is super. Thanks for asking.
South Park The Fractured But Whole PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 9/10
South Park The Fractured But Whole builds on the previous game to provide better mechanics with a greatly improved UI to power its superhero-inspired story. Outside a few individuals, your favorite South Park residents are well represented in a crazy, fully explorable world that only South Park could create. The addition of a crafting, class, and might system, has freed the player to fight for justice (and their own Netflix series) in any costume they choose. With a strategic combat system and plenty of friends to help you, South Park The Fractured But Whole is a hilarious game that should not be missed by anyone that enjoys the offensive humor Matt Stone and Trey Parker have been making for more than twenty years.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.