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South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review - Unadulterated South Park Bliss

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When the Stick of Truth was released all the way back in March 2014, I was blown away by the quality and faithful recreation of South Park, giving it a 9.5 out of 10, the highest review score I have ever given at that point. Now, more than three years later, I finally got to play South Park: The Fractured But Whole. The game, developed and published by Ubisoft, with collaboration from South Park Digital Studios, had very high expectations to live up to.

With input from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, The Fractured But Whole has exceeded those expectations for me. The game boasts a brilliant RPG system that can go toe-to-toe with the best turn-based RPGs out there, all wrapped up in the edgy, vulgar form of social commentary and crude jokes that South Park fans have fallen in love with over the years.

I'm going down to South Park

The Fractured But Whole once again puts you in the shoes of the silent protagonist, the New Kid. This time, you are thrown into the midst of a civil war between the fourth-graders of South Park, as they are divided into two groups due to arguments about which of their superheroes get the most screen time in their franchise plan.

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Every character and every last inch of the town has been so faithfully recreated that it felt like playing a 20 to 25-hour episode. The town feels alive with enemies, creatures and the townsfolk who do hilarious and disgusting things. Throughout the game’s story, I was in awe of the amount of detail that went into recreating the town in so much detail. It feels like every inch of the game has been touched by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as I could feel their influence shine through in every aspect.

The story takes you to familiar yet brilliantly executed places, from the bathroom of each home in town to a ‘Memberberry farm’, the Dancing Hippo and so much more. There is also some surprise reveals, betrayals and jokes so edgy and sometimes vulgar that South Park fans will feel completely enthralled by the experience.

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Those who haven’t watched every episode of South Park like I have should still get most of the humour, but not all of it. There are times where not having watched a specific episode might mean you are not in the loop about a hilarious moment. One early example of this is when some Catholic priests try to touch you in a dark room. After you’ve defeated these enemies, Father Maxi comes in and scolds them out, but they respond that the giant spider said it was okay. These little moments might not be understood by those who missed the relevant episode, but for those who did, it is awesome. 

Gonna have myself a time

I chose a Speedster as my first class (the game has nine in total to unlock) and later added more classes to my roster as you can Quad-class your character. The New Kid still has the power of his behind, but things have changed this time as you now use TimeFarts to decimate your foes and explore the environment. There are four Timefarts to unlock as you progress through the game, including Glitch, Pause, Summon and Shift.

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These farts can be used in battle and all of them, except for Summon, come in very handy when just exploring South Park and solving puzzles as you go around. For example, with Timefart Glitch you can glitch time and space with your behind, stopping an enemy’s deadly attacks and ending their turn. Out of combat, you can glitch back to the past, unblocking a pathway so that you can grab some great loot or complete a quest.

I found TimeFart Pause to be the most helpful of your powerful “down under” abilities. In combat, it allows you to pause time and freely punch targets for a few seconds, while outside of combat there are a plethora of uses. One example is how you can pause time to walk over electrified water, which is used throughout the game.

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You discover your powers with the help of Morgan Freeman, who owns a taco shop and is basically an all-mighty being the lore of South Park. He helps you progress through your journey of self-discovery and shows up from time to time, helping you find the true power of your behind.

Then, you can also unlock and perform summons, but going too much into that would be considered big spoilers. The first one, who everyone has probably seen by now, is that you can summon Moses (from the Super Best Friends) by crafting a macaroni picture. When summoned, Moses heals all your party members for a large amount of health. These summons all have limited uses, so when to use one in your journey is always something to take into consideration, especially on higher difficulty settings.

Friendly faces everywhere

You have 12 kids to partner with, most of which you unlock a bit later in the game. These super-powered kids all have their own unique abilities, so setting up the right party is key. My favourite is Human Kite, who has some very handy protection and healing abilities as well as a deadly ultimate.

My second partner in fighting crime that I loved working with is Mosquito, who has an ability that puts a damage over time “Grossed Out” effect on all nearby enemies during battle, as well as life stealing abilities that come in very handy in the later stages of the game.

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Apart from your combat allies, you also have buddies, that in collaboration with your farting powers, creates whole new ways to explore the environment. You gain access to Captain Diabetes early on, who goes into diabetic rage when you fart on him, allowing him to lift heavy objects and clear a path.

With Human Kite, you can “Fartkour” to places you would never be able to reach, while Toolshed plugs his air compressor into your behind to blast away objects blocking your path. Then, we also have Professor Chaos, who when called upon, pushes a minion up your behind so you can fart it out, rocketing it into an unreachable terminal.

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Even though I am 35 years old, I couldn’t help but smile and sometimes giggle at the well-timed fart jokes, inside and outside the buddy system…because South Park just does it so well.

Humble folks without temptation!

There are so much vulgar, absolutely disgusting jokes in The Fractured But Whole that I don’t even want to mention them. The townsfolk are, without a doubt, the most messed up bunch of NPCs I have ever encountered…and I simply didn’t want to leave. Meeting all the characters from South Park was an absolute joy, even if cringed more than a few times.

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You get to talk to and even fight PC Principle as he teaches you about Micro-aggressions and the ways of the Social Justice Warrior, help Big Gay Al find his cats (using Timefart Pause), fight Red Wine Drunk Randy and so much more. It is an absolute overload of edgy humour wrapped in so much personality from every single character that every time I met another of the famous inhabitants of South Park, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was truly in the small mountain town.

The best thing about meeting all these characters is that you can add them to Coonstagram by taking a selfie. Then, your social media lights up in game as they reply, talk to each other as you become a powerful influencer.

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However, it’s not just the South Park theme that makes the game great.

Not just a FastPass to success

Let me take you in a different direction for a bit and imagine everything “South Park” about The Fractured But Whole has been stripped away. Does the game still hold up? My opinion is a resounding yes.

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The game’s RPG and combat systems have seen an overhaul and it can now stand toe-to-toe with the best turn-based RPGs ever created. In combat, you have a variety of tactical aspects to keep in mind and at higher difficulties, the game’s combat system shines the most. You have environmental factors to take into consideration in some fight, for example exploding barrels.

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Positioning your characters is of the utmost importance as well, as some of them have attacks that can only hit from certain angles. Then, you also have buffs and debuffs to keep in mind, all while having a tonne of items (some of which have limited usage) as well as combo moves to use if you position correctly.

Further, there is a robust crafting system in place, as well as hundreds of character customization options. Since you can quad-class in the game, you can build a unique character and match skills that synergize well. You also have the option to use different allies in situations that they can excel at. Then, there is a customization system that lets you choose your own look, mixing and matching various of outfits, hairstyles and more. 

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Last, but definitely not least, you search for and earn artefacts and DNA strands, which increases your party’s might. These items provide different bonuses to your party as a whole, so it is important to mix and match them as you level up in order to gain the most benefit from your party members and the items equipped.

There is just so much RPG in The Fractured But Whole that it could, on a mechanical and game systems measure, stand on its own against the top turn-based RPGs.

The Verdict – An experience to ‘member

South Park: The Fractured But Whole isn’t for everyone and it is not difficult to see why. The game will very likely offend a lot of people, but for South Park fans who know what they are getting themselves into, it is a brilliant, hilarious experience. Mechanically, the game holds up against the best turn-based RPGs ever created and has a wealth of customization options, a plethora of skills to use and a deep combat system that shines ever brighter the further you get into the game.

Throughout my 25-hour experience, doing most of the side quests and fully exploring the town of South Park, I never once, not even for a single moment, felt bored or disappointed. I had very high expectations for The Fractured But Whole after the awesome experience I had with The Stick of Truth.

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I just simply couldn’t find a fault with the game, except for twice losing some progression due to a save game bug, which a confirmed also happened to two of my friends. Even so, replaying an hour which I lost didn’t feel like a chore, as the game is simply that good.

The Fractured But Whole exceeded all my expectations and for everyone who loves South Park, it will probably be the game of the year. In my opinion, the game will be something to remember for years to come and I will be replaying it quite a few times in the next couple of years.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 17 October 2017 | RRP: R999

This review was based off a review copy provided to  us by Megarom Interactive

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"an absolute overload of edgy humour wrapped in so much personality"

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