Ubisoft San Francisco’s South Park: The Fractured But Whole is about as basic a port as we’ll likely ever get on the Nintendo Switch. Those coming in expecting a slew of Switch-specific features may be disappointed, but what’s here is still portable South Park — something a lot of us were clawing for when the Coon and Friends outing made its debut on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in October last year.
That said, there are some noticeable compromises that have been made in order to get The Fractured But Whole on Switch, which surprised me. Fairly long load times are persistent throughout the game world, alongside a couple of large dips in frame rate during intensive scenes. Both of these issues are fairly noticeable as you make your way through the game’s 15-hour story, though they were sporadic enough to not hamper the experience all that much. Further, battles and general exploration don’t usually suffer from frame issues, as I found they were mostly tied to some of the things you get up to throughout the game’s story missions.Playing the game on a big screen in docked mode will take some getting used to as well, as there are noticeable jaggies across most of the characters and environments. The game’s clearly running at sub-1080p, and it tends to take away from the well-known South Park art style — especially if you’re a regular watcher of the series. Playing in handheld alleviates this problem thanks to the smaller display though, with the game looking much cleaner and closer to what you’d see on the actual show.
Other than those issues, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a competent port on Switch. It’s an excellent game to take on the go, and lends itself well to either long play sessions or short, bite-sized ones. It’s not quite as good as The Stick of Truth — which surprisingly hasn’t made its way over to the Switch — but South Park fans will certainly get a kick out of it. The trademark humour is here in full force, and there’s a lot to get up to and explore throughout the world of South Park with Coon and Friends. I’d definitely recommend it if you haven’t given it a shot as of yet on other systems, but don’t expect anything more than what is a fairly basic port.
In his original review, Brodie said: On the surface, The Fractured But Whole is a Civil War piss-take where the kids form two rival superhero cliques who are both vying to be the big billion dollar franchise. Cartman, as the Coon, gathers his best and brightest, including you as the new kid once again. You try to one-up Timmy’s Freedom Pals at every turn as you race to solve the mystery of a missing cat, hoping to money hat your big-budget superhero cinematic universe with the modest $100 reward. It’s that kind of naivety that reminds us that, despite a fuck-per-minute ratio that’d make Tony Montana blush, these are just kids playing make-believe. Of course, as they so often do, they get drawn into the seedy underbelly of South Park, making plenty of enemies along the way. It’s a lot of dumb fun with some even dumber plot turns, but the sheer amount of characters and nods to the series they throw at you along the way makes it more than worthwhile.
Unlike The Stick of Truth, which was a static turn-based role-playing game, The Fractured But Whole takes things a step further. While it’s still turn-based, combat takes place on a grid battlefield. It’s pretty stock standard. You have limited steps to use and then have a few attacks to choose from, each with their own area of effect pattern. It isn’t anything revolutionary, but it sure adds a little bit more depth to the fighting this time around. There are a number of different comic-book inspired character classes to toy with, but these are fairly inconsequential and don’t provide a whole lot of replay value.The town of South Park is, yet again, realised with great attention to detail in The Fractured But Whole. Its every street and building is there and a great number of them are open to peruse. The world itself is littered with collectable items and puzzles to bowl over, it’s just a shame that it isn’t a seamless world as loading screens tend to break up play a little too much, even when wandering the streets. Plus, there’s also an archaic fast travel system that, while humorous within context, requires you to actively seek out a travel point which are so spaced out and, more often than not, is as far away as the place you’re looking to go. The developers also thought it’d be neat to block off certain paths around the map with obstacles you can’t get by without the help of buddy powers that you unlock much later on. This is only frustrating because nothing is actually gated off, they’re just roadblocks that make you walk the long way around town, which is, in itself, irksome.
There are some very light character progression elements tacked onto The Fractured But Whole, but it’s hardly a deep system to grasp. Your character levelling up means very little, aside from unlocking new artefact slots and being able to craft better gear while his or her strength is tied only to said artefacts. You’re also able to equip a DNA modifier that’ll rewrite some of your stats, strengthening some while weakening others. It might sound like a bit to keep track of but it hardly matters as the combat just isn’t that difficult to bash through (on what one might consider the more casual difficulties). It’s pretty much only when the narrative dictates special objectives, such as outrunning a one-hit ass-slamming stripper, where it gets mildly troublesome but beyond that, it’s fairly easy to nut out.It’s pretty easy to tell that, much like The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole is very much a collaborative work between the series creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and developers Ubisoft San Francisco. Thanks to a heads-up display that is only present when it needs to be, pretty much all of the game could be mistaken for an episode of the series itself. There’s no other way to describe it aside from looking absolutely perfect. The same must be said for the game’s voice acting which is, of course, handled for the most part by Stone and Parker themselves. I hope somewhere down the line they release The Fractured But Whole, and The Stick of Truth for that matter, condensed down to movie length because it’d rival a whole lot of their back catalogue so far.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a good fit on Switch, though some noticeable technical issues highlight the sacrifices made in order to get it on the hybrid system. That said, what’s here is a great South Park adventure — one fans of the show should certainly check out if they haven’t already.