First Impressions: ‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ (PS4)

‘South Park’ sequel not quite as punchy, but game play mechanics make up for it

I love me some outrageous comedy, and from what I’ve played of “South Park: The Fractured But Whole,” I’m thinking I’m in for a good time.

Having played 2014’s “South Park: The Stick of Truth,” published by Ubisoft but written by the writers of the popular and long-running television show, I had a general idea of what I was getting into with “Fractured”: outrageous offensiveness, a solid RPG-style battling system and a quest to save this tiny redneck mountain town (probably from Eric Cartman himself). So far, that’s exactly what I’m getting, and I couldn’t be happier.

You return as the New Kid, the hero of “Stick of Truth.” But instead of “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings” as the inspiration, superheroes have become the hot commodity. Our young heroes have donned Marvel-esque personalities (you may be familiar with some of them if you have watched the TV during the past several seasons) in an effort to create their own franchise. And to save a cat. Or maybe start a civil war. I’m not really sure anymore… Either way, the superhero nerd in me is rejoicing. Long live costumes!

The previous installment melded the show’s 2.5-D animation style with a clever battle system that made for a surprisingly in-depth experience. For the most part so far, “Fractured” has stuck to that formula. However, the fighting arena has taken a bit of a turn. While still turn-based, your characters’ locations are no longer static. Instead, it’s become a grid-based system, where you have to be aware of what your actions will do and how they interact with the grid. Some moves can only shoot forward, for example, denying you from dealing damage if you don’t line up with an enemy just right. It’s not terribly difficult, but it does require that you pay attention to where everyone is on the grid.

Graphics and voice acting are top-notch, as they were in “Stick of Truth.” More than once I felt I was playing an interactive episode of the TV show, and I mean that as a compliment. This is no live-action FMV; you’re playing a game that looks so like its source material you may forget it’s a game you’re watching.

Pair that with a phenomenal script that doesn’t miss a beat — there’s always one more offensive joke to mine out of the outrageous situation the kids find themselves in — and you have an excellent adventure just waiting to happen.

At this point, I have no doubt “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” will continue to impress, and I’m excited to see what else lies ahead.

This is a First Impressions of “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” on the PlayStation 4. A full review will follow once the game is completed.

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