The South Park kids are back for a second bite at the videogame apple, and this time, they’re playing at superheroes.
But is the second game a worthy follow-up to the excellent Stick of Truth? And more importantly, is it funny? Happily, the answer to both questions is a resounding YES!
Fun fact: the game’s name is the result of one of the show’s creators’ attempt to get a game on store shelves with the word “butthole” in it. The original title was to be “The Butthole of Time”, but since retailers wouldn’t accept the word, a few hours of brainstorming wrought the title you now see before you. Retailers were happy, and so was Trey.
That’s all you really need to know about the humour in this game. It’s immature. It’s dirty. It’s politically incorrect. It’s wrong on so many levels. It pushes the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. But it’s also very clever, and if you’re a fan of the show, it’s exactly the game you’d expect from series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
The result is a polished, fun, frequently-funny game that lays on the social commentary and satire as much as it tries to gross you out with all of the bodily-fluid-and-function-laden gags the creators could come up with.
Aside from the fart gags and foul language, SPTFBH is an RPG, in that you – The New Kid – pick a superhero role and use the powers of that role in turn-based battles against various characters as you explore the town of South Park.
The game’s plot involves a crime wave unleashed on South Park on purpose by nefarious types, but before players get to that, they start off as a member of Cartman’s gang, attempting to get his “Coon and Friends” superhero franchise off the ground. Elves and wizards are so 2014, apparently.
Initially, your task is to flesh out your superhero character while looking for a lost cat; there’s a $100 reward for it that Cartman wants to use to kickstart his franchise.
But of course this is South Park, so it doesn’t stay that clear-cut and before long, the kids find themselves in all kinds of dodgy situations.
Along the way, players will discover the power of farts. Yes, farts. But not just ordinary farts – this time around they are SUPER farts that can mess with space and time, powers that come in handy throughout the game by letting the New Kid interrupt enemy turns, pause and rewind time, summon fighters, and even get to out-of-reach places.
Farts also make battles somewhat more manageable, particularly mini-boss battles, by rewinding time and preventing enemies from acting. It’s particularly handy when a boss move has decimated the whole team in a single strike and the player needs to regroup.
Players can expect a lot of cameos of longtime South Park characters; while I loathe Towelie as a character, his appearance in the game is both contemporary and laugh-out-loud hilarious, culminating in a battle (and an outcome) that I won’t soon forget. Many other cameos play out in a similar fashion, and fans of the show will likely enjoy them as much as I did.
Thematically Super (thanks for asking)
The superhero theme runs deep through the game. In addition to choosing a class, players have to craft a back story and choose a weakness, along with a second class later on on the game. This gives The New Kid a range of moves to choose from in the overhauled turn-based battle system, which also introduces movement into the mix.
Yes, positioning in combat is important this time around. It adds some strategic depth to the battles, and mixing up attacks and using them effectively in conjunction with those of the teammates players pick up along the way can be quite satisfying.
I wasn’t crazy about the battles to begin with – they felt like a chore and took ages to resolve – but as the game developed and I picked up more powerful artefacts and unlocked additional moves, I started to get into them as my team became more effective. By the end, I loved the battles – they proved to be more streamlined compared to the original game’s, with far more tactical options.
I was helped along by the new items I discovered and equipped (which boosted my stats), and the attack power I gained from levelling up. The character system is surprisingly complex for a game that doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously on the surface, and I was impressed with its depth.
The Fractured But Whole is a much more polished game than The Stick of Truth was. The interface is superbly presented and easy to navigate, I didn’t encounter any bugs, and the closest I came to a technical issue was a slight jerk of the screen every now and then as it scrolled.
I particularly enjoyed the game’s music, which runs the gamut from epic and instrumental, to homages to ditties from the show (an instrumental version of Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch plays while battling her and Kyle’s cousin, for example), to original tunes like the cool eighties-inspired track that plays in the Peppermint Hippo. I was surprised at just how good it all was.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review – Verdict
Being a fan of the show is a prerequisite for really enjoying the game, however. As I’m a fan, I laughed a lot while I played, but I’m pretty sure not everyone’s going to be quite as appreciative (or forgiving), considering Stone and Parker’s willingness to go to places other comedians just can’t (or won’t).
So if you enjoyed The Stick of Truth, you laugh at the show, and you enjoy turn-based RPGs, you should definitely pick this up.
- South Park: The Fractured But Whole was reviewed on Xbox One, and our copy was provided by the local distributor. The game retails for R899 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and R849 on Steam.