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Review: South Park: The Fractured but Whole

Before I jumped into my adventure of South Park: The Fractured but Whole; the game asked me to pick my skin color. Depending on the color I picked, the level of difficulty would change, not the difficulty of the combat, no, the difficulty of life itself. Only a game like South Park can pull this off and it’s certainly a welcomed change in a world where everything has to be politically correct. This is a game that dares to make fun of our modern society but does it in the best way possible!

Still the new kid on the block

South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a direct sequel to Ubisoft’s first South Park game; The Stick of Truth. In the first one, the kids dressed up as medieval warriors (including wizards) and fought for the castle. This game starts at the moment that you, the new kid, is tasked to infiltrate the castle and find the wizard (Cartman). Needless to say, things don’t really turn out the way everybody expected. Instead of continuing the quest of ‘The Stick of Truth’, Cartman changed into his superhero costume and explained he traveled from the future to solve more urging issues.

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It seems like Coon and Friends and the Freedom Pals are battling to have the best franchise. That’s right, the entire plot of this game is just a humorous take on the endless Marvel VS. DC discussions you’ll find on the internet. Cartman is the leader of the Coon and friends and invites you to join his army of superheroes. In order to prove you’re worth it, you’ll have to gather followers for Coonstagram, pick different classes to master and just do whatever Cartman orders you to do. Yes, it’s that time of the year again!

Master your class

Right from the start, you’ll have to (re)create your character and pick a class in order to join the team. In total, you’re able to pick between ten playable classes. To keep things easy, you can only pick three at the start of your adventure. The more you advance, the more classes you unlock and you’re even able to combine different classes to create a unique set of attacks. This system goes way deeper than the first South Park game ever did. The classes are truly different and mastering the different skills will take some time to get used to. If you don’t like the class you’re currently playing, you can still change it. The class you’ll eventually pick will depend on how you like to play games like these. Important to know is that the combat is entirely different this time.

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The combat still is turn-based, but now you’ll fight on a fixed grid. You can move your characters (four maximum) around on the grid and attack your enemies when it’s your turn. Sounds easy but it’s a bit more complicated than just that. Finding the right position is crucial since the enemies won’t always go down easily. Things get more difficult due to the fact that only one character can stand on a certain square on the grid and attacks have a limited reach. Figuring out what attack is best suited for a fight is crucial. While playing, you’ll learn that certain attacks will push back the enemies while inflicting damage and other attacks will make your enemies slower or set them on fire. Learning these conditions that are often attached to your attacks is one of the more fun things to discover.

As said before, you’re able to set your attacks yourself so you’ll have a lot of variation between short and long-range attacks or healing spells. Finding the right combination is key to survive the game! Besides that, it’s also important to enhance your character with mysterious artifacts.

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Make your hero stronger

These artifacts are used in a so-called ‘gear-tree’. No longer will you gain XP-points like traditional RPGs. Instead, you gain experience by gaining more followers on Coonstagram, beating sixth graders and more. In order to improve your hero, you’ll need to gather mysterious artifacts. Some are hidden in the world while others are only gained if you complete certain quests. These artifacts boost certain abilities and will always make you stronger. If you want to advance, you’ll need to use those artifacts at the right time. If you want more slots so you can use more artifacts, you’ll have to reach a higher level by solving certain issues in the overworld.

That’s not all, you can also craft your own artifacts if you find the blueprint or craft some items that will come in handy during combat. The crafting isn’t that complex but finding all the right ingredients to make a certain item will be challenging. This way, the game supports you to go on an adventure in the gorgeous world of South Park to discover every little secret there is the find.

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(Re)Discover South Park

The map of South Park makes a return in the sequel and if you’ve played the first one, the map will feel like coming home. Nothing drastic has changed since the map still has the same layout as before. This doesn’t mean that Ubisoft recycled the map entirely without adding some new elements. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll recognize some of the newer buildings or the destroyed streets of  SoDoSoPa. This is the strength of the game, making you recognize certain areas and characters from the television show. The entire game is filled with links to the television show and the way you need to solve most of your problems is just as absurd as the show. Fans will love this while newcomers might have found the perfect reason to finally check out the show.

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South Park never looked this good, the graphics really got improved compared to ‘The Stick of Truth’. There’s no way you could spot the difference between the game or the show, I often didn’t move because I thought I was still watching a cutscene. That being said, the game also encourages you to solve small environmental puzzles. By throwing farts at the right object, you’ll unlock paths and eventually important items. Since there’s no jump button in the game, you’re often forced to think outside of the box. The puzzles really are a nice variation to the combat and I enjoyed solving them.

The humor makes up for the small mistakes

So, is this the perfect game? No, but it’s the perfect South Park game without a doubt. Sure, there are still some minor bugs and the level of difficulty could have been a little higher but besides that, this is the perfect South Park game. The dark humor returns although the creators kept it rather light during the first half of the game. The more you advance, the more explicit the violence gets and the darker the humor. If you’re not a fan of the franchise, you won’t laugh at the jokes but if you are, you’ll constantly play this game with a big smile on your face. I won’t spoil the jokes here but be prepared for some shocking moments.

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Conclusion:

South Park: The Fractured but Whole isn’t a perfect game but it’s a perfect South Park game for sure. The small fractures in the gameplay aren’t worth mentioning when you take a look at the whole game. The combat has been improved a lot and is way deeper compared to ‘The Stick of Truth’. The Characters and the environments look amazing and the humor is on point. If you’re a fan of South Park, this simply is a game you need to own. If you aren’t a fan, this game might convince you to start watching your new favorite show. By far one of the funniest games on the market.

8.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.