South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Review
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: 10/17/2017
Developers: Ubisoft, Ubisoft San Francisco, South Park Digital Studios LCC
Leaving behind the fantasy genre of role-playing, the kids of South Park don their masks in South Park: The Fractured But Whole, a sequel to the well-received South Park: The Stick of Truth. Though playing the sequel does not require one to play the previous title, it does the tie-in to the game’s introduction. With more references to the show and tougher tactical turn-based battles, There is plenty for a gamer to sink their teeth into.
A new threat emerges in the peaceful mountain town of South Park, and Coon and Friends are in the midst of a civil war with the Freedom Pals. The start of the game has the new kid, King Douchebag defending his kingdom in the fantastical setting from South Park: The Stick of Truth. Meanwhile, the Coon travels back in time to reunite the dispatched Coon and Friends to find leads on a lost cat and gain the $100 reward money to start their franchise.
Gameplay and Combat
Clutching the mechanics of its predecessor and repurposing them into a grid-based tactics game, special status effects and positioning become paramount to victory. All encounters are poised with a difficulty scale–deemed “Might Levels”–to allow players to see how challenging the encounter is before combat begins.
Outside of combat, Douchebag traverses the town, interacting with objects through his buddy powers, or puzzle solving with his own abilities.
Poking fun at social media, meeting townsfolk to gain followers on Coonstagram becomes a focal point between brawling with enemies around town.
Every combat opens with the team select screen, where players can select up to three allies for support. With a total of 12 members to choose from, optimizing the best team to face enemies can lead to a crushing defeat or decisive victory. Each hero has three main abilities and an ultimate, which requires a meter to be filled before it can be used. An uncommon feature in turn-based RPGs, teammates’ specific combat banter contributes to more immersive combat.
The new combat systems are introduced through a manageable learning curve, giving the player a good sense of the systems before challenging them with more obstacles. In later encounters, area-denial, deadly telegraphed attacks, enemy summoning, and real-time timers that count down while ignoring the turn system are implemented into battles. Some encounters require players to move past a certain area while being chased or mobbed by a deadly foe, while challenging encounters and interesting moves combat repetition.
A strategic mind goes a long way in the depth of this combat system. Each ability has a specific range, and poorly positioned allies can prevent a hero from targeting the desired enemy. Furthermore, using knock-back attacks to send foes flying into the fists of their ally grants bonus damage.
Exploration and Reward
Once again the town of South Park is opened up to the player, offering great reward for exploring and conversing with its citizens. Characters from the show are scattered throughout the game world; some are quest objectives, while others only offer witty banter.
The game world reflects its television counterpart well. That being said, the cheap gags seem tamer than jokes in The Stick of Truth. Shock factor of joke-telling was not as prominent in this title. Sure, some of the humor is offensive, but as a whole it was very enjoyable comedy.
Puzzles and challenges litter the town. Using the abilities of Douchebag and his allies, players can capture the plethora of loot. The buddy powers were somewhat tedious after a while, having to call in each ally to clear specific obstacles. Thankfully, there were only a few of these puzzles within the game, and most puzzles only required the use of investigation mode and farts or firecrackers to acquire the treasure.
Sometimes, if rushing through the game, there are standstill moments within the story due to a lack of guidance as to what players should do to attain the Might Level required for the next mission. As such, the game expects players to explore the world as they go about the main story and side missions and level up their character. Side mission are worth the time. Taking the form of special encounters or minigames, these are some of the best experiences within the game.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole offers a wide variety of creating the child superhero of your visions. The first choice is the superhero class, and at the beginning of the game there are three. This quickly expands to a total of 10 classes at the end with the option of four equipped at a time. This choice of freedom is only restricted by the three slots for primary abilities and one ultimate ability for combat. Combining the powers of separate classes to create a masterful cohesion between powers is a truly riveting class system.
What a superhero wears is important; it is a symbol of that hero that all bystanders can trust. As such, the costumes are completely cosmetic, allowing one to find the perfect outfit among the plethora of headgear, eyewear, chest, gloves, makeup, coloration etc.
Might level is the raw statistics of your hero’s strength in combat. The level is determined by the power of artifacts equipped, which strengthen the raw stats and provide minor advantages. Artifact slots are obtained by leveling up Douchebag by gaining followers, completing missions and exploring. DNA is another feature of might that, while not affecting the hero’s level, gives significant boosts to certain stats, allowing heroes to specialize in a certain move type.
Graphics and Engine
Staying true to the classic style of the animated series, there are very few highly-detailed and realistic elements. That being said, the equipment and character models provide a lot more detail than the previous installment. Staying true to the unique art style fans admire about the show creates a more unified world within the series.
Running on the Snowdrop engine, developed by Supermassive Studios, this game is a picture-perfect representation of the art style and the world itself. Currently, frame rate is locked at 30 FPS on all devices, but there are plans for the PC version to support 60 fps. Minimum GPU requirements to run this game are a tad high, given the art-style. Minimum requirements are:
- Resolution of 720p @~60FPS
- Processor: Intel Core i5 2400 or AMD FX 4320.
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 560Ti, GTX 650/750/950. Or AMD Radeon HD7850, R9 270/R9 370 or RX 460.
- RAM: 6GB
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only).
While Recommended are:
- Resolution: 1080p @~60FPS.
- Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K or AMD FX 8350.
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 670/750Ti/960. Or AMD R9 280x/380/RX 470.
- RAM: 8GB.
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (64-bit versions only).
Of course, this game does not suffer from low fps or aged graphics as most other AAA titles released. Not a particularly demanding game in terms of processing, since most of the actions are turn-based.
This game is a wonderful experience for franchise fans and curious alike. Although it probably won’t attract those who detest the show, this game offers a polished combat system as well as fun gameplay. South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a successful sequel and the perfect portal to enter into the world of South Park and live your own adventure with the cast. The game is immersive, hilarious, and an overall grand experience.
It has been a while since a game felt like a complete package at launch. Though it has minor flaws, the upsides of this game make it a truly entertaining experience.