Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Feb 27th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under South Park RPG, PS4, Xbox One, Xbone, Switch, PC, turn based

South Park is one of the longest running shows still being produced and aired in the United States. It's been an extremely popular show since it started in 1997. A few South Park video games were produced early on in the show's history, starting with the titular, first person shooter South Park in 1998, followed by the game show trivia game South Park: Chef's Luv Shack in 1999, and the kart racing South Park Rally in 2000. After these first three games, the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, stopped allowing games to be made based on South Park. These early games were not of the highest quality and the pair wanted more creative control. This would not last forever, as 2007 saw the release of platformer South Park 10: The Game for mobile phones of the era, to celebrate the show's 10th anniversary. In 2009, another game was released, South Park: Let's Go Tower Defense Play! for Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360. Another platformer would be released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2012, South Park: Tenorman's Revenge.

In 2014, a new South Park game was released, and it changed the way many future South Park games would be viewed. That first trio of South Park games is often lambasted for being sloppy, unpolished, uninspired license cash ins, and the second trio is basically forgotten and almost never mentioned. But, starting in 2014, any news of future South Park games would be viewed with delight, as South Park: The Stick of Truth would feel less like a South Park game, and more like an interactive season of the show.

South Park did not just have its first good game in its long history, but a great one. The game was more than successful enough to warrant another, similar entry. Ubisoft, the publisher for The Stick of Truth, moved development of this next South Park game internally, tasking their team in San Francisco to build this new game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole. It would release in 2017 for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC, with a Nintendo Switch version releasing in 2018.

In The Fractured But Whole, players take on the role of the customizable "New Kid" of South Park. The game starts out with the New Kid as the king in the fantasy game that the kids are all playing as the backdrop to Stick of Truth. The kids all decide to switch over to playing super heroes fairly quickly, which leaves the New Kid in a bind. He's not yet part of either of the super hero groups in South Park, so he has to earn his way in to Coon and Friends. The New Kid has the very real power of the nastiest, biohazardous, farts that potentially violate terms of the Geneva Convention. Cartman eventually agrees to let the New Kid join Coon and Friends after coming up with his backstory and sending him off as a sidekick to another superhero on an important mission.

The town of South Park is opened up to players at an early spot in the game. The map is a bit different compared to Stick of Truth. The town of South Park has been updated based on the town's changes in the seasons aired between the two games. So the wonderfully beloved 8-bit Canada has now been blocked by the the Great Canadian Wall as an example. The Fractured But Whole's combat is a turn-based tactical system. Players have a movement radius that they can maneuver with for each of their turns. Each character has 4 abilities, 3 being regular attacks and skills, the final attack is an ultimate that can only be used when the game's combat meter reaches 100% from taking and dealing damage. These skills cover the range of classic role playing game combat features. There are options for status effects, crowd control, single target, and area targeted abilities, on top of mystic fart powers that bend the fabric of reality. Players can also manipulate the field of battle to pull and push enemies around and into extra attacks. Part of the charm of the game comes from the New Kid slowly getting more super powers until they eventually end up being completely customizable with all the game's classes unlocked.

At the start of the game, The Fractured but Whole's combat feels a little shallow. As the game is progressed through the surprising depth of the system and its options comes to shine. Each character and class is quite unique. Mysterion for example actually has two full movement sets, for 8 total abilities. Since Mysterion is Kenny he turns into a ghost form when he dies, and both of his ultimate abilities make him sacrifice himself or come to back to life depending on his state of life. The tactical movement system built into the base of combat is also used to build unique encounters throughout the game. The depth of combat is further shown once enemy parties start becoming mixed later on in the story, so instead of just fighting some Chaos Minions the player will fight a couple minions with some City Ninjas, Raisins girls, or Sixth Graders mixed in. The gear system in the game is rather simple, with the New Kid equipping artifacts that boost the party's Might stat, as well as offering some smaller effects in battle.

This game does an excellent job of mimicking the show's look, much like its predecessor. The Fractured but Whole feels like playing through a short season of the show, and its visual style makes most cutscene transitions quite seamless. The game also progresses its story at different times of day and night, and like The Stick of Truth time moves forward once the story for the day has been completed. The game does a great job of hinting at this system from an early point as well. Randy can be found just after South Park opens up for the New Kid, and gives the player a quest that can only be completed at night. The soundtrack is also great and fits in quite well with the action going on. There is little to no music while exploring the open world, which helps immerse the player in the town of South Park. You'll only hear music in most cases if its playing on a TV near the New Kid. This rather silent exploration helps the player to observe and mix in with the over the top characters that inhabit South Park.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is another great game. Its a worthy follow up to Stick of Truth and is easily worth playing for any fan of the show. It already has quite an affordable price even though the game is still fairly new. It also regularly goes on sale and quite recently dropped as low as $5 on Steam. Any fan of South Park should pick this game up and play through it. The super hero theme stays fresh through the game as the player fills out their character sheet, gets more and more powers to play with, and customizes their builds. Overall, the game is rather short. Its not hard to see most of the game and its story in around 35 hours. There is also a lot of optional content like secret bosses, collectibles, and stat boosting artifacts to find, not to mention all the references and characters hidden throughout the game.

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This was one of the very first Switch games I picked up in 2018. I enjoyed every minute of it, I even bought the season pass for it(which is rare).
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