Imagine a world where everyone has the chance to be a hero. To rid the neighbours of crime, defend those who can not defend themselves, be a beacon of hope and justice. Now mix that with a range of profanities, references to your parents doing the deed and a lot of moments where you laugh and immediately think how ashamed your mother would be if she knew. You now have South Park: The Fractured But Whole.
Last week, I visited the Ubisoft Sydney office and go to spend an extended period of time with the second instalment in this hilarious series. Getting through the first few missions, I left feeling quite surprised at how eager I was to continue on.
To be honest, I have never been a dedicated fan of the TV series, nor did I play The Stick of Truth. However, I did watch a few walkthroughs when the first game released, and have watched a TV episode here and there. I feel like anybody who knows nothing about the series would be completely with some of the things in this game. In true South Park style, nothing is sacred and don’t think they won’t go there cause they will. In fact, they’ll go past what you thought were the boundaries.
The game opens with the tale of a neighbourhood ridden by a malicious crime spree of missing cats. The narrating voice urges for the villainy behind the pawful (#sorrynotsorry) attacks to reveal its motives, and calls for justice and peace to be restored. From the shadows, I find out the voice is none other than The Coon! Half man, half raccoon – He is 100% the hero South Park needs. Not to spoil the facade, but The Coon is Cartman.
I’m shook after the whole ‘The Coon’ reveal, so it was nice to get some time to piece together my blown mind at a customisation screen. Once again, we are playing the New Kid of the neighbourhood and I’m given the ability to style my avatar in a bunch of ways. I don’t know how Ubisoft learnt about my kryptonite for customisation, but rest assured I spent way too much time, as per usual, wondering whether or not I wanted freckles or the hairstyle I’ve always wanted, but could never pull of in real life. Of course, like any true superhero franchise, I decked myself out in the appropriate Press Start colours.
The game kicks off at the end of the Stick of Truth. The neighbour kids are still battling it out in the fantasy world of wizards and dragons and the game utilises this as a way to quickly bring you up to speed with the combat mechanics and new features to gameplay. Once the tutorial is complete, The Coon is back and interrupts the magical war with, well insults, as well as the news of the catty crimes. Coon and friends assemble.
The fun of this game ramps up from here. I found myself greeted with another customisation I got to choose my hero class (Speedster, Brutalist and Blaster). I also got to choose the ability to once again customise my avatars hero suit and colours. The Coon then revealed the origin story – as all superheroes must have one. In true Cartman style, your origin story reveals maybe a little too much about your parent’s’ “after dark activities”, but it was also also the first time I got to try out the sweet new combo moves, so I guess a win? The premise of the game is then revealed to be attracting as many followers on Coonstagram as possible, because by doing so you’ll be helping to keep the South Park superhero franchise alive. You do this by taking selfies with the residents of South Park – some will be eager straight away, some only when you have a worthy number of followers, and others after completing missions.
I was able to play 3 different missions before my time as ‘Quick Feet Fury’ (yes that’s the superhero name I gave myself) came to an end. The first was helping ‘The Kite’ (aka Kyle) destroy his alternative-universe self (aka his cousin), the second, was my gender assignment – part of your superhero journey is to fill in your player card (like a stats card with strengths, weaknesses etc). Once finding the school counsellor, he asked me my gender as well as my sexuality, and, of course, confirms the given information with my parents (via some South Parky dialogue), before letting me go. Upon exiting the school, I’m then greeted by some Rednecks who don’t quite like the “choice” I made with my gender and sexuality, and engage my comrades and I in a battle.
The final mission I played had me visiting a church, where the head priest directed me to the store room where I would find what I was looking for for my mission. Unbeknownst to him, there were two “unruly” priest lurking in the darkness of said room and you can probably guess what they were after. Of course to defend myself, a battle commences, where phrases like “wes anyone under 12 wanna wrestle?” and “want to go to Heaven with me?” are uttered and rosary beads are pulled from places with sound effects I can not un-hear.
But my time as a superhero kid had to come to an end. Reflecting on that time I thought about the fact that the game is definitely worth playing through but there’s definitely things in the game that I shouldn’t be laughing at. It’s extremely enjoyable and quite challenging depending on the difficulty the you choose. The humour is out there, but honestly something you won’t be able to hold back from laughing at. The new combat mechanics will make you play strategically which makes the repetitive nature of turn-based combat disappear. As somebody who has never fully gotten into the South Park franchise, I’m definitely keen to get my hands on this and rejoin The Coon in his quest for justice.