After multiple delays, development complications and torturous, hype-building trailers and sneak peeks, Matt Stone and Trey Parker along with Ubisoft have finally unleashed the colorful superheroes protecting a quaint, little mountain town upon us in the cleverly and aptly named title South Park: Fractured But Whole. As someone who finished Stick of Truth multiple times and is a big fan of the show let me tell you, this game does not disappoint in any aspect of the franchise. (Totally worth nearly getting into a fight with Best Buy corporate to get my Gold Edition Steelbook!)
New game means lots of new stuff. Gamers love new stuff! So to not turn this article into a giant rant about the greatness, allow me to do a little breakdown of Stick of Truth versus Fractured But Whole. Make sense? Good! Let’s get to it, New Kids!
End of Your Reign
Your new story begins at the end of your last one as King Douchebag of the land of Zaron, protector of the humans and elves. Another war has broken out as another faction has come to take the Stick of Truth (which is now gone from the world) and you must defend your brethren against the onslaught with High Jew Elf Kyle, Paladin Butters and Thief Craig aka Feldspar as your cheer squad. After earning a new title and the battle coming to a head including a tense hostage situation, the gears crunch and shift as the Coon appears, imploring those who retired their capes to return and help with the crime that has been taking over South Park. This change of theme, of course, makes you nothing more than a crown-wearing loser New Kid as all your previous, medieval achievements seem to disappear instantly from everyone’s minds. Sonuva…
The New Kid’s New Story
While it’s sad to see it all go, it made the two games seamlessly flow into one another and served as a great introduction to the new story of crime syndicates, missing cats and movie and television franchises. Turns out South Park has kind of become a dangerous place to live. I know it seemed that way before with Mecha Streisand, killer turkeys, and alien probing, but this is a different level. Crime is spreading and it seems to be stemming from missing cats. One, in particular, Scrambles, has a reward on his head for $100 and Coon & Friends want the money to get their franchise off the ground. So do Freedom Pals. Yes, the kids have split up. Creative and political differences can do that to a group of fourth graders, ya know? The CAF faction includes the Coon (of course), Human Kite, Mosquito, Super Craig and Fast Pass while the Freedom Pals HQ is home to Mysterion, Toolshed, Tupperware, Wonder Tweek and Professor Timothy. THE TENSION IS SO REAL. You end up counted among Coon and his band in the search for Scrambles.
Building A Hero From Scratch
After having your backstory built by the Cartman aka The Coon, you get to start building your character from the ground up by picking a class. At first, you can only choose between Speedster, Blaster, and Brutalist (my personal first choice since I live by Super Craig’s way of life of punching and punching more) but as the game progresses you can add to your class picks and power repertoire. This is your first step to becoming a full-fledged superhero.
You’re also given a character sheet for your little super. Players of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as experienced roleplayers, will recognize this as something absolutely pivotal for character development and stay in that persona. In Fractured But Whole’s version, this sheet includes your gender/sex, alignment, race/ethnicity, religion, power source, Kryptonite and economic level. While you can’t fill out your own power source (sorry but you’re going to have to live with the fact that it says “Anal” forever), everything else is completely customizable and I have to say…huge props to the South Park guys on this one. While having the power to choose your race, ethnic background (I went for a proud Scot) and the rest, I couldn’t help but be super proud of Matt, Trey and everyone else involved in the game for the sex and gender choosing side missions.
With the help of illustrious school counselor Mr. Mackey (and some additional guidelines from PC Principal), you get to determine your own gender and sexual orientation. When choosing, you’re asked if you identify as a boy, a girl or neither and then asked if you’re cisgendered (identify as what you’re born as and that matches your genitalia) or transgendered (identify as a gender you were not born as). The fact this was a choice is just simply amazing and incredible progressive. Matt and Trey even pushed the limits of transgender issues by redesigning the bathrooms at the town playground so there are 3 doors; boys, girls and “sissies” for cisgender people only. This is even brought up during a side mission with Call Girl who “feels bad for you” because all cisgender people are required to use the bathroom decided by society, a satire and table-turner on the facilities issue facing transgendered people today. This little kick to the social nuts of those arguing against the transgendered is absolutely beautiful and brought a smile to my face.
Continuing on this portion of the character sheet, I felt a need to give the sexuality portion a very thorough detailing because the choices you get and those made by the other heroes nod to so many people on the LGBTQA scale that it needs to be highlighted. During my conversation with Mr. Mackey, I was asked to answer if I was drawn to boys, girls, both or neither and based on the gender chosen (I went with a cis female for my first run of the game) it filled out my character sheet appropriately. For my little hero, my orientation says “bisexual”. When it comes to my comrades, there is quite a mix on the character sheets of the hero personas that I and the rest of the community wholly appreciate and love. Among the handful of straight characters are:
- Yes please (try to guess who wrote this, bet you’ll be wrong!)
Did I mention gender-fluid and gender-neutral come up among a few of the character personas as well? Hell yes! Thank you, Matt and Trey! #Represent
After you’re done completing this mission…make sure you’re ready for a fight. Just a warning; not everyone is okay with who you are. Yes, I got in the fight for picking “cisgendered female”…no one is safe!
Pick Your Skin, Pick Your Poison
Along the same train of thought, it would be completely remiss of me to not shed some light on another feature that was added that delivers another dropkick to society’s face. The skin color slider in Fractured But Whole serves multiple purposes. One is to obviously change the skin tone of your New Kid. Taking a stab at white male privilege, such a character can level up faster, have access to some areas faster, and generally have an easier time playing. The darker your skin though, the harder the game becomes. NPC’s will react to you differently (I suspect a major amount of sass from Cartman), money is harder to come by, and the road you travel becomes a lot more treacherous. As per Cartman during your choices here, “Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat. Just every other aspect of the game.” Looking for a real challenge? Complete the game as a black hero on the Mastermind combat difficulty and you can say you’ve had “The Token Experience”, and get the achievement or trophy with the same name.
True to South Park fashion and customs, the issues of race are pushed even further during a whole story arc with the police. I won’t get too far into it so as to avoid spoiling it for anyone but when you finish it, you’ll receive an achievement called, “An End to Racism”.
This feature is a great spearhead against racism, showcasing just how different a life people end up leading, not because of their own abilities, but because of how they are depicted and treated by those around them. If you’re somehow unaware of these egregious differences, please go look up some statistics on employment, pay rates or police brutality reports. Better yet, pay attention while you’re out and about in the world. Get ready for a real eye-opener.
With your powers at the ready and character sheet in hand, your New Kid is ready to take on the bad guys! Now, remember that fight I told you about from the end of the last scenario that had enraptured the South Park kids? (You ‘member!) Well, that actually plays out as your first basic tutorial so you can get the hang of the brand new combat system! Say goodbye to the Final Fantasy-esque battling and hell to a kickass grid of….ass kicking! Move your heroes around the field and position them in the best ways to take advantage of your foes, but be careful to not trap yourself or your buddies too far into enemy lines!
3 Is Better Than 1
Continuing our tap into the battling vein, I’d like to point out that you now have 3 buddies at your disposal in Fractured But Whole as oppose to the single companion from Stick of Truth. This was one of my few complaints about the predecessor and it’s a joy to see it addressed and completely fixed. This also means that team composition plays a huge role in your fights against sixth graders, ninjas and the elderly, so keep that in mind! Personally, I like to make sure I have a healer/buffer on the field so Kyle aka Human Kite is a staple on my roster. (He also says “PEW PEW!” when he attacks and it’s just precious.)
What Else Is New?
It would probably take me roughly 5000+ words to get through all the upgrades, new additions and general excitement featured in Fractured But Whole. To avoid making this sound like a weird AF lecture and spoiling anyone looking to create their own little hero, here’s a list of all the notable changes, improvements and add on’s for the title!
- Coonstagram replaces Facebook!
- Take selfies to get followers!
- Crafting System: Get crafting kids!
- New costumes, aids in battle and other equipment
- Special guests rock
- Awesome New Summons!
- #Blessed #SuperBestFriends
- Unleash Your Ultimate Move!
- Build your Ultimate Meter so you or a hero pal can perform their ultimate!
- Every ultimate is different.
- 10/10 would recommend Human Kite for crazy AoE and burning effect.
- Don’t get me started on the PDA move.
- Collectors Welcome!
- Chinpokomon are so last game, now it’s all about that yaoi!
- You remember the Member Berries? Course you do! Go find ‘em so they can ask you what you ‘member!
- Mini Games Galore!
- Title Masteries for Experience Boosts!
- Artifacts and DNA Strands
- Need a leg up in battle? Look no further than your artifact and DNA slots!
- #Bulking Season
- Bigger and Better South Park To Explore!
- Including the quiet mountain town at night
- Buddy Abilities Rock!
- An expansion on the buddy commands of old, the abilities summon your hero friends to your side to help solve puzzles, fly you to new heights and ruin grounding attempts.
- Character Customization is Cray!
- The clothes don’t affect your stats.
- Phone Apps Control Everything!
- Your menus are all now “apps” on your phone
- Customize it with default backgrounds, selfies, yaoi art and even a cracked screen look
- So Many Bosses, So Little Time
- Challenging bosses and fight objectives keep you on your toes
- Even better South Park humor
- That satire and occasional fourth wall breaking we all know and love is as raunchy and gut-busting as always
- “This bus was supposed to get here last December!”
- Get Your Season Pass Here!
- DLC has already been announced and you can purchase your own season pass including new missions, maps and items/costume pieces for $30.
- Gold Edition buyers get this pass with the game!
While there are a few glitches (nothing major or game-killing run into thus far) and tiny little, nit-picky gripes I could go on about (I miss my permanent buddy follower commenting on my life constantly, 10/10 would have Super Craig or Wonder Tweek as company), I have nothing negative to speak of in this game. Knowing why there were so many delays, it was absolutely worth the painful, heart-wrenching wait for Fractured but Whole’s arrival. The flow of the game is great, characters as loveable as always, just the right amount of tension and relief in conflicts and so many features it’ll make your head spin. Every step is enjoyable and so far, I haven’t run into a portion of the story I’ll dread replaying as future New Kids. Of course, another bravo for all the satirical moments and nuances that make the player sit and think for a moment about how society is run before going to fart in another sixth grader’s face.
Hats off to Matt, Trey, their team and Ubisoft for delivering such a raucous, creative, potty-mouthed story and band of super brats to our PCs and consoles. Thank you for this amazing game that will be enjoyed for years to come! #SouthParkFan4Lyfe