Published on November 16th, 2017 | by Ian Goodwillie0
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
South Park follows up The Stick of Truth with The Fractured But Whole, again proviing they have one of the best game adaptation out there.
There are moments of clarity when you’re playing a good video game. It’s probably not fair to call these moments “epiphanies” because that term should, hopefully, be reserved for actual moments of clarity that have weight in one’s life.
In the case of good video games, these moments of clarity are simply that. You’re playing a game and the reality of it opens up in front of you. You understand what the game you’re playing is going to be about and how it’s going to play out. It would be unfair to suggest that this means the story is laid out front of you, just that you know whether this game is going to be worth playing. For South Park: The Fractured But Whole, that moment comes in a strip club called the Peppermint Hippo.
But we’ll come back to that.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is Ubisoft’s follow up to 2014’s wildly successful, both monetarily and critically, South Park: The Stick of Truth. In the 2014 game, you play as the New Kid, aka Douchebag, who has moved to South Park and is conscripted onto either Cartman’s or Kyle’s side of an insane RPG game the town’s children are playing. It starts as wizards and warriors, then goes crazy from there as only South Park can. It gets weird. Perfectly, absurdly weird. It had excellent gameplay and a marvelous story.
2017’s The Fractured But Whole picks up where The Stick of Truth left off. Mid-stream, Cartman changes the game from wizards and warriors to superheroes with his burgeoning franchise at odds with another. The New Kid must earn his way up the ranks of Cartman’s Coon and Friends team while developing his character and powers.
The fight mechanic has been updated and upgraded. While it feels a little clunky at first, it actually works quite well once you get into a groove with it. There are plenty of ways to upgrade and modify your character, including the ability to download a couple of special costumes from Ubisoft. One of them makes the New Kid look a lot like a very familiar assassin. And, of course, your farts can bend time.
The story itself is only 16.5 hours long, which might not seem like a lot, but at 22 minutes each that’s roughly the equivalent of 50 episodes of the series. There are plenty of collectibles and side missions to pad out the time further if you are a completionist.
And if you get lost, Morgan Freeman, actor and proprietor of the in game business Freeman’s Tacos, is there to guide you along the way in the use of your fart powers.
Somehow, that makes the game sound a lot more rational than it actually is.
Once again, the overall premise and story you play through is brilliantly insane. As part of chasing down a missing cat to bring notoriety, you stumble across and participate in the attempted takedown of a conspiracy involving various criminal organizations and the local police. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as the South Park cops are the worst law enforcement division this side of Springfield. On this path, you fight the minions of Professor Chaos, ninjas, sixth graders, Raisins girls, and the elderly. And that path carries us to The Fractured But Whole’s moment of clarity: you fight a bunch of strippers.
While on a mission with Captain Diabetes, who induces a diabetic episode to create a burst of superhuman strength, you must infiltrate a strip club, the previously mentioned Peppermint Hippo. It has banners hanging out front that say “Artisanal Strippers” and “Locally Sourced Girls” out front. The goal is to track down a stripper who has information on the case you think you’re following and the case you’re accidentally on. The end result of this is two grade four boys in ridiculous costumes fighting their way through a room full of angry strippers, including Spontaneous Bootay who has been featured on the TV series.
It is one of the most South Park moments in the game. You are a child fighting adult strippers who are not playing the superhero game at all. And it’s a tough fight that you sincerely do not feel good about after. It’s an awkward, borderline offensive scene to participate in but after it you understand the reality of this game.
It’s well designed
And there’s nowhere it won’t go.
In the end, that’s the overall hallmark of South Park in any form. Uncomfortable narratives that challenge your sensibilities and are, hopefully, funny. The Fractured But Whole is an excellent follow up to The Stick of Truth and, in both cases, virtually perfect video game adaptations of the TV series. If you don’t like the show, you will not like this game.
You have been warned. Now go get it.