Southpark – The Fractured But Whole (PS4)
The new Southpark franchise game sequel – The Fractured But Whole – is a moreish parody of the DC-vs Marvel franchise war, writes DAMIAN REID.
The Stick Of Truth, Southpark’s first role-playing game, was one of those rare games that you just couldn’t stop playing, and I played it to completion four times, once for each of the four playable archetypes.
So it’s no understatement to say that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel, and Fractured But Whole delivers – and then some.
Again you play as the New Kid, but this time the game starts with Cartman as his superhero alter ego The Coon setting the scene. Coon and Friends are losing Instagram followers to a rival superhero franchise, The Freedom Pals, so they’ve got work to do. They must assemble, amass more followers by getting townsfolk to take selfies with them, claim the $100 reward by finding missing cat Scrambles, battle sixth graders and win the Civil War against the Freedom Pals.
The game opens with a huge battle where the New Kid (the player) is king and must save the day once more in one final epic battle. Character Creation Part 1 lets you choose gender and skin colour. Note your choice of skin colour affects gameplay in how characters respond and interact with you. This does not affect combat difficulty, but adds a strong social commentary to the game which makes the idea of replaying with varying skin tones as exciting as different archetypes.
With your basic character built, it’s now time to explore your house, collect materials and try out the new toilet mini-game. When you have done this you head out your front door and join your army. Time to experience the new Combat Mechanics. The new capability to move your character and team mates within the grid adds a strategic element to battles, but the overall feel is familiar to the first game and is pretty easy to pick up.
After fighting your way through multiple enemies and a dragon you arrive at Kupa Keep – home of the Grand Wizard – only to meet The Coon who explains he is from the future and everyone is to start playing Super Heroes now.
Everyone stops fighting and heads off to get their Superhero costumes. The New Kid doesn’t have a Superhero persona so you need to enter Cartman’s house to join in the Superhero fun. You need to search Cartman’s room for his journal, which is full of X-Rated cartoons and a passcode to his lair. The passcode is ‘F@#k You Mom’ and sounds out each time you enter it in to the key pad. Funny the first time, but gets old after a while! Fortunately, it changes as the game progresses.
Cartman then talks you through your backstory and building your superhero character sheet. Again, there is more X-Rated material, so make sure the kids aren’t around when you play.
In the second part of the character-build, the player has three basic archetypes to choose from: Speedster, Blaster and Brutalist. Further game-play opens up to 10 different archetypes, and you play most of the game with access to a combination of three archetype power moves, so there is a lot of replay ability once you have finished the game.
I usually make my first character in RPG look like me, so my fourth-grader is white with glasses, a beard, and I chose the Brutalist archetype like the Thing or a pissed-off Batman.
After some more backstory The Coon sends you out on your first mission. The town of Southpark is pretty much the same as the first game, but there has been some new real estate developments like SodoSopa and the new mall, to name but two. This makes the setting familiar to those who played Stick Of Truth, but also new and exciting to explore.
The game follows story arcs from the 21st season of Southpark so fans of the show are going to love that, and gamers who don’t watch the show but still have a similar sense of humour (fans of Rick & Morty or Archer for example) will also enjoy the game.
From a purely gaming perspective the gameplay is repetitive, and the turn-based combat system is not going to challenge you greatly. The graphics are based on Southpark, so stylistically it’s a cartoon and therefore, no breath-taking graphics.
That said, what makes a Southpark game unique is that it is Southpark, and because of that people will either love it or hate it. Even with the pop culture references, Morgan Freeman cameo and the subtext of satire and protest towards Trump, gender identity, racism and refusal to accept micro-aggressions, Southpark – The Fractured But Whole is a game made for Southpark fans.
Sure, it may gain some new fans to the show but I don’t think it will turn any non-fans into Southpark fans.
That said, hopefully there are enough Southpark fans already, to ensure that The Fractured But Whole won’t be the last game in this franchise. Now if only I can put it down long enough to send this review in before the deadline…