STAFF REVIEW of South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Xbox One)

Monday, October 30, 2017.
by John Elliott

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Box art South Park: The Stick of Truth was a hysterical game that had me laughing for hours upon hours and falling in love with the animation of South Park all over again. When I heard of the sequel I was excited, but skeptical, that South Park: The Fractured But Whole could compete with the near perfection of its predecessor, a master combination of RPG and a twisted adaptation of the Lord of the Rings that was comedic gold. Could this new release stand up to my expectations? Could they even match it? With these thoughts in mind I unfurled my cape and flew into South Park: The Fractured But Whole.

With many years to perfect the animation style that South Park has become known for, there is no doubt that they nailed it down and delivered an exact replica of South Park. Iconic characters like Cartman, Kyle, Stan, Token, Wendy, and Craig, along with the adults the likes of Mr. Mackey, Mr. Marsh, Mrs. Broflovski, and Mrs. Cartman, they all bring life to the world of South Park. Whereas all the homes, stores, iconic landmarks like City Hall, South Park Elementary, and the ever standing town of South Park sign sitting across from the bus stop, all set the stage for the action that's about to unfold.

The battle animations are hilarious, especially the finishing power moves that each of the characters have. Each move is creatively designed with the character in mind, like when Captain Diabetes engorges himself on sugary treats that puts him into a hulk like rage that allows him to destroy everything in his path. As someone who picked a Speedster class to start, I was granted a finishing move that combines a bit of Bruce Lee with the Flash as you pummel your enemy with a flurry of punches that leave them wondering where you're coming from and going to. All the animations are pretty neat and I think fans, and non-fans alike, will enjoy what is offered in this area.

As the "New Kid", and like you could in Stick of Truth, you can customize your characters sex, race and appearance, and based on your selections the characters in the game will treat you differently, or in some cases the difficulty of the game will change. The creators have always satirized current events along with injustices in the world and it is no different when it comes to this video game either.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole not only nails it in the graphics department, but it rounds out it's overall presentation with the full support of the iconic voice actors like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, not to mention the musical score and sound effects that fans of the television show or Stick of Truth will easily reminiscence about Although there isn't anything new brought to the table aside from some new sound effects and music that brings a super hero story into the fold, it should be noted that if they brought anything new to the game it would have taken away from the South Park feel. The developers masterfully incorporate what is tried and true with this new theme without swaying away from what South Park is.

First and foremost South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an RPG that takes you on a journey that directly follows the aftermath of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Taking on the role of the "New Kid" once again, you quickly learn that that the local kids are no longer interested in playing out their own version of Lord of the Rings and have split up into two local gangs of Super Heroes: Coon & Friends and Freedom Pals. A local cat has gone missing and a reward has been offered which the two groups of super heroes race to find first, but only one group of heroes can win and rescue poor Scrambles.

The combat system has been revamped a bit from Stick of Truth and uses a grid based system which generally is the combat system used in a lot of my favourite RPG's. I am a huge fan of Final Fantasy Tactics and the Fire Emblem series, so this was definitely a welcome addition and adds a bit more strategy to combat situations. Each move a character has can target an individual grid, a line through the grid, or an area attack. Some moves allow you to push the enemy back giving you much needed space to work with, or in some cases it allows you to hit the enemy and push them out of the way taking the enemies spot in the battlefield.

Knowing what your moves can do can turn the tide of battle quickly, especially when using them in combination with other moves. For example, I enjoy playing a Speedster/Assassin where I can sacrifice my next turn to do two actions in one turn. When activated, I strike deep into the enemy lines taking the place of an enemy and often knocking them straight into another enemy causing even more damage. After that I use a smoke bomb attack that not only deals damage to the enemy but will make my character invisible protecting him for a portion of the battle.

The story is on par with the Stick of Truth and some of the comedy is over the top, and I'll be honest, it even grossed me out now and then, especially during the portion of the game where you have to infiltrate the strip club and perform lap dances. With all of the hilarity in this title, the game does fall a bit short in comparison to The Stick of Truth. Such is the challenge with sequels as it will always be compared to the original.

While playing through the game I did encounter some minor issues like cameras zooming in the wrong places. This would cause the game to freeze or lose audio for a bit. All of this was minor in comparison to the game breaking bug that I encountered. After just completing a Coon & Friends meeting about our next steps in tracking down Scrambles, one would normally be prompted to change out of your clothes, go home, eat dinner then go to bed. Unfortunately, I wasn't prompted to do any of that and was just left to do side quests. After completing all the side quests that I could, some in hopes that it would somehow prompt the next set of story missions, I was sadly disappointed.

As I write this review I haven't been able to progress past this portion of the game and I played for hours upon hours up to this point. Even after seeking help from Ubisoft Support, along with a member of the Ubisoft Team who worked on The Fractured But Whole, still no solution was found. I have to credit those who helped, as they offered a lot of suggestions to let me carry on my journey, but none of the trouble shooting that was offered ended up rectifying the issue that I encountered. Aside from the starting over, and hopefully being able to get the prompt during a second play through, I was at a loss of how to continue the game. To be honest, after putting in almost 20 hours into the game with about five of those attempting to get to the next section, starting over is not that attractive of an option.

With all this in mind I do have to score the game accordingly with this bug, as it broke the game. With the great story and new gameplay mechanics its not hard to imagine that the score for this game would have definitely been higher, as the game was good up to where I couldn't progress any further. That being said, since I couldn't fully enjoy South Park: The Fractured But Whole with the bug that stopped me, I'm left feeling mediocre about this game. It's kinda of sad too, as I was enjoying much of what I played, but to have the game 'break', and leave me stranded, is a big letdown, and something that affects how this game scores overall.

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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