E3 2016: South Park: The Fractured But Whole Hands-off Impressions – An alliance torn asunder

At this point, you know if you like South Park or not. The controversial franchise has been around for nearly twenty years, and has since its inception spawned a number of products besides the popular TV show, including videogames. The latest one, South Park: The Stick of Truth was a huge hit, and thus, we’re seeing a direct sequel, South Park: The Fractured But Whole.

The Stick of Truth proved to be an excellent game, thanks to its simple and fun gameplay, but also due to the referential treatment of South Park‘s many seasons, featuring a ton of references to the show. The Fractured But Whole doesn’t seem to stray too far from what was established.

The kids have grown tired of the fantasy theme of their made up role-playing game from Stick of Truth and have now moved on to superheroes. Chaos obviously ensues when South Park splits between two opposite factions, leaving you, the new kid, still playing under the first game’s rules, to figure things out and deal with the silliness that ensues.

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The demo presentation I got to sit down at E3 with showed the first few minutes of Fractured But Whole, where things are finally going back to relative normality after the crazy events of The Stick of Truth, as it’s wont to happen in South Park. Obviously, Cartman has already butted in as the self-appointed leader of his hero faction, poking us to join him and fight the other side, but not before picking out a class and defining our character’s attributes.

For a game under such a silly franchise and title, Fractured But Whole is pretty involved when it comes to actual gameplay, just as in The Stick of Truth. The character classes definitely ring to the tune of comic book lore, with direct references to named heroes from both big comic book houses, like super strength skill tree to Superman and speedster to Flash. The Ubisoft rep playing the demo picked the latter, and moved on to show us show the combat is fleshed out.

Similarly to Stick of Truth, Fractured But Whole‘s fighting is strictly turn-based. You get to control a three person party against whatever number the computer decides to throw at you. You can charge up attacks, buff your party or even simply defend, and much like a traditional JRPG, there’s also special super powers which can be used to great effect at just the right moment. In the demo’s case, that was a speedster skill that hit multiple opponents if they happened to be lined up, which was the case after one of our party member’s “super kite” power did just that. It’s heavily traditional, but simple enough to grasp.

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The demo featured local kids as the opposition, and in true South Park fashion, really upped the grossness and dark humor all throughout the fight, with kids from both sides yelling out curses and having the worst sounding super powers you’d expect to come out of the minds of Matt Stone, Trey Parker and whoever else is providing the writing for the game. You can expect to run into the rest of the South Park crew in some form or another, along with whatever ends up showing up that’s new, if The Stick of Truth‘s any indication.

Frankly, for me, the previous South Park RPG didn’t have any right whatsoever to play as well as it did, considering the development hell it ended up going through before finally coming out. It was like an extra season of South Park, but in videogame form. Like mentioned before, at this point, you know if you’re into South Park or not. Fractured But Whole won’t change your mind: it’s a product aimed at fans of the franchise. It’s incredibly faithful to its source material and for the little I got to see at E3, just like the previous one, it has no qualms with that.

You can expect to see more impressions of South Park: The Fractured But Whole here once the it’s out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in December. Until then, here’s its E3 trailer to help set the mood.

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