Hands-On: South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Hands-On: South Park: The Fractured But Whole

There was a point in time in which South Park games were dreaded messes, back when Acclaim had its grubby hands on the license and practically went to town with horrible releases like South Park Rally and Chef’s Luv Shack. But as of late, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the crudely animated Comedy Central series, decided to take game-making into their own hands, working alongside Obsidian Entertainment to release South Park: The Stick of Truth. At first, it was a THQ project, but Ubisoft picked it up following that company’s bankruptcy, and finally released it a couple of years back.

The game became an instant hit not only with fans of the show, but also role-playing fans that couldn’t get enough of the crude – yet hilarious – antics of the characters. You’d think that would be all that the South Park world needed to vindicate the license, but Parker and Stone decided to come back for another effort, this time working hand-in-hand with Ubisoft’s team to create The Fractured But Whole.

This time around, instead of an adventure theme, the characters act out a battle from the comic book world, with Cartman’s somewhat offensive Coon character, alongside a handful of others, doing battle with Butters’ Professor Chaos. But, in pure superhero fashion, a “Civil War” breaks out, and soon characters begin battling one another to see who will reign supreme.

And that’s where the “new kid,” the winner of The Stick of Truth, comes into play. During a recent hands-on session with the game at Ubisoft’s headquarters in San Francisco, we got to see what happened after Stick, with the “kid” coming across Cartman and the gang and developing a new superhero persona to fit into the new game.

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It’s here that players can decide which class to fit their character into, whether it’s a Speedster (like The Flash) or a Blaster (like Cyclops). Ten classes will be available in the final game, but for the demo, we only got to select from three. We decided to go with the Speedster, with his Quantum Punch, Multiverse Strike and Supersonic Dash abilities. (Each character has several abilities that align with their personas.)

From there, the story plays out a bit, and even gives you the opportunity to take the most epic poop ever in the opening stage. (Yes, that means pressing the analog sticks together and making a wish – even the controller rumbles to echo the epicness of the poop.) But, eventually, the demo led us into the battle system, which has traditional RPG rules. That is, you see grids on the ground where your character can move, and can highlight enemies that you wish to attack.

Depending on the class that you select within the game, your abilities can vary. With the Speedster, we were able to do damage with a quick Quantum Punch attack, as well as a zippy Supersonic Dash that can do a great deal of damage. However, like traditional RPG rules, you can also take damage when it’s not your turn, so you may want to think about where to place characters with your moves.

There are also special abilities that can be unleashed once you unlock them, including an incredible multi-punch attack that can lay out most enemies with ease. This includes tougher enforcer characters, as well as adults that, well, can act like a real pain in the ass. It’s a variation of The Stick of Truth’s gameplay set-up, but just as much fun. And you can bet that The Fractured But Whole won’t hold back when it comes to what their characters can do. (We’ve only seen a fragment based on the stuff highlighted in the video below.)

As you can see, the animation style is about on the same level as Stick of Truth, but a little smoother thanks to the utilization of Ubisoft’s own custom engine. It resembles an episode of the TV show, right down to the crude little animations and the layout of the town. The cut-scenes look great as well, tying in with the gameplay segments without missing a beat.

The voice acting, well, it’s all Parker and Stone, so it’s purely authentic. And these two don’t hold back on language either. It’s South Park, after all, and without Comedy Central in the way of filtering it, you can bet that the game will easily earn its M rating. And how. (As if the epic poop didn’t do that already.)

While the demo was a bit too short for its own good (coming to a close at just under twenty minutes), it definitely gave us a lot to look forward to with The Fractured But Whole. If it can maintain the same loopy rhythm and formula as The Stick of Truth – as well as throw in plenty of jokes that are pointed at Marvel and DC Comics – then it should have no trouble succeeding when it arrives this December.

Robert Workman is a veteran who’s worked for many sites over the years, including GameCrate, AOL GameDaily and Segadojo. When he’s not playing video games, he’s enjoying a fine craft beer and talking about how much Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to rock. Oh, yeah, and his game shirt collection rocks.

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