Tag Archive: south park

When South Park: The Fractured But Whole was announced at E3 2015, it was easily one of the biggest surprises of the show. Rumors had long persisted that Matt Stone and Trey Parker had become disenchanted with the video game-making process after South Park: The Stick of Truth (the first game they had directly worked on) spent too long in development hell for guys who were used to cranking out a new TV episode every six days. It left many wondering if Stick of Truth would be the last time the two brilliant minds would ever directly be involved with a video game again. However, the temptation to give it another go—especially after Stick of Truth’s overwhelmingly positive response from fans and critics alike, must’ve been too great. And it is only now, after calming down from laughing my butt off, that I can tell you we are all the better for them deciding to give making games a second chance—because Fractured But Whole may actually surpass its predecessor in many ways.

The story takes place shortly after the events of the first game. Your character, The New Kid—aka Butthole, aka Douchebag—has been named king for his mighty acts of flatulence. But now Cartman wants to play superheroes, and says the fate of the town—and his get rich quick superhero movie franchise—is at stake with a rash of cat-nappings happening. So, in a twisted turn of fate, New Kid is back at the bottom of the pecking order, having to work his way into everyone’s good graces in order to play with them again. Begrudgingly, Cartman allows you to join his team “Coon and Friends,” and as you fight crime alongside them, you begin to uncover a plot far more sinister than missing cats—including finding out the true origins of the New Kid and the reason his family came to South Park.

Fractured But Whole plays out like one super-long episode from the TV series. The game starts off innocent enough, but it isn’t long before events start to escalate, sticking the boys in more improbable and ultimately insane situations. Fractured But Whole also takes its time, clocking in at around a 20-hour experience, easily double that of its predecessor. All the while, it pokes fun at anything and everything it feels like from long-standing social issues like police brutality and pedophilia in the Catholic church, to less serious matters like the game industry and game development—and of course, super-hero movies and franchises. As usual, nothing is off the table for South Park, and if you love the humor of the series, then you’ll have a great idea what you’re getting into (and will likely enjoy this even more than you might some episodes just because there is so much that’s tackled here).

While taking its shots at a variety of subjects, Fractured But Whole also serves as a tribute to the over 20 years of South Park television we’ve had. Whether its cameos by characters like Mr. Hanky or Towelie, to acknowledging more recent additions to the series’ canon (like collecting Member Berries for experience points), your knowledge as a fan might be tested with references to situations from all across the South Park timeline. And as well crafted as the main story may be, the real enjoyment from the game for me came in a lot of the side quests, which really up the comedy even more. For example, one of these missions sends you to rescue Mosquito from Raisin girls, while another has you try to mend the broken hearts of Craig and Tweek after a lover’s spat. With each subsequent mission (main or side), the only constant I found was that I couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarity that ensues from each situation the game throws at you.

From an aesthetic standpoint, Fractured But Whole delivers exactly what you would expect from a South Park game. Similar to Stick of Truth, the game looks like an actual episode of the show, with character and location designs ripped right from the series. Unlike Stick of Truth, though, there’s a lot more nooks and crannies to discover, with more locations within South Park having been fully developed. On top of that, the world from the last game has expanded in parallel with the series, so locations like the ruins of SoDoSoPa from Season 19 can be explored for the first time.

Audio-wise, Matt and Trey provide most of the voices (just like in the TV show), reprising the roles you’d expect them to. Musically, everything is also taken from the show, and whenever you walk into a store or shop, music from the show’s history can be heard like muzak in an elevator. Go to Tweek Bros. coffee and “Gay Fish” might be playing, or stop by the bank and “Jacking It in San Diego” could be piped over the speakers—it’s another way the game pays tribute to everything South Park.

It’s no surprise that a lot of Fractured But Whole really just follows the blueprint that was laid out by Stick of Truth while upping the ante by taking a few more risks with its writing and going bigger and better in a lot of scenarios (as you would expect from any sequel). Where Fractured But Whole really differentiates itself from its predecessor, though, is in the gameplay. While still an RPG, the basic turn-based system of the last game has been eschewed. Instead, it has been replaced with an amalgamation of an active-time battle system with an order of attack, and a grid-based tactical RPG system that reminded me of the early Mega Man Battle Network games or even a really truncated Fire Emblem. The New Kid and his team of three other South Park kids—the pool of which you’ll get to choose from will grow to almost a dozen by game’s end—will be forced to take on everything from Old People to Ninjas to Sixth Graders and more.

I found the grid system really increased the necessity to use strategy to overcome a lot of obstacles, but similar to the first game, I found most battles—at least on normal—to be relatively easy once you get used to the nuances of the system. For example, it was common early on for me to accidentally block the path of some of my fighters, since no two characters can end up occupying the same space. As you learn the abilities of each character and how best to utilize the New Kid’s super powers, these issues will naturally fade away, much like one of the New Kid’s farts in the wind.

As the game moves on and you become more accustomed to combat, not only will you have more characters to mix and match on your team, but the New Kid will learn additional powers as well. Some are based on what class you choose—such as being a Blaster like Cyclops from the X-Men or a Brutalist like the Thing from the Fantastic Four—while others revolve around the New Kid’s amazing arse. Finding the right mix of powers, and when to employ your special farting abilities, adds surprising depth to combat. You can also unlock a cornucopia of cheap knockoff hero and villain costumes to make your New Kid look exactly how you want him or her to, going along with the idea that you can truly make your own superhero to fight alongside the children of South Park with.

Farting isn’t just an offensive tool, however—it’s also critical to exploring South Park. I’m kind of chuckling to myself even as I write this as I realize how much Fractured But Whole really doubled down on your irritable bowels, but only by passing gas can you hope to fully unlock all of South Park’s secrets. One way this works is that New Kid can perform Fart-kour in the world with Human Kite to reach high rooftops, or fart in Scott Malkinson’s (Captain Diabetes) face to send him into a diabetic rage that will have him open up new paths by busting down certain walls and barriers in the world. It adds another layer of depth to the gameplay by promoting exploration probably even more so than combat.

Sadly, there are a few things that stink with Fractured But Whole’s gameplay. There’s a loose leveling system where your character doesn’t gain strength directly from leveling, but that higher levels allow you to equip more gear called Artifacts. Artifacts will boost various aspects of your character, including what sort of attacks do more damage, your general health and movement speed, or even extra health for your allies in battle. Once you reach a certain level, however, you won’t get any more Artifact slots, and the leveling system becomes sort of pointless for the last quarter of the game. The Artifact system is also somewhat arbitrary once you reach a certain level, with each new Artifact offering little to no difference to any other Artifact you might have in your possession.

Fractured But Whole also has a fair amount of glitches—mostly in combat, but also a few in the world. There were several instances where one character would be occupying multiple spots, like there were two Mrs. Cartman in Cartman’s kitchen, and I could talk to each one as if they were different NPCs. It wasn’t game-breaking, but it did hurt my immersion. In combat, there’s a worse glitch where a character’s turn may not end in a timely manner. It was never so bad that I had to restart a battle, but there were many different occasions—particularly in boss battles—where my character would perform their action, and then I’d be waiting for several minutes before I could take control of the next character. This seems like something that could be easily patched down the line, but was worrisome in the moment.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an absolutely hysterical game that combines truckloads of fan service with an RPG experience more realized than its predecessor. There may be a few technical hiccups along the way, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete experience that makes you laugh the way this one does. If you love South Park, this game is a must play.

Publisher: Ubisoft • Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 10.17.17
The new combat mechanics add tons of depth and strategy to the experience, and new exploration abilities really give Fractured But Whole an overall deeper RPG feel. The game is also absolutely hysterical; if you love the humor of South Park in general, then Fractured But Whole is a must have.
The Good Some legitimate laugh out loud moments, a more developed South Park to explore, and a deeper combat system.
The Bad There are some rough glitches in combat, and the Artifact system could use some work.
The Ugly Craaaaab people. Craaaaab people.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

I had a chance to play a new demo of South Park: The Fractured But Whole from Ubisoft, Ubisoft San Francisco, and South Park Digital Studios. Here, we fight some priests and red necks. Check it out. South Park: The Fractured But Whole will be available October 17 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Gonna have ourselves a time

Sick and tired of licensing out their beloved series to game developers who constantly failed to capture the essence of the show, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker eventually decided that the only way to do it right was to do it themselves. Enter The Stick of Truth, a project the comedic masterminds helmed from the get-go. They handled all the writing, personally picked a developer, and even navigated the bankruptcy of their first publisher, THQ, and the transition to Ubisoft—all in the hopes of finally conquering the last realm of media they hadn’t been able to strike gold in.

One big reason The Stick of Truth works so well? Parker and Stone penned a tale that puts players themselves in the middle of the crazy Colorado mountain town. As the New Kid, you’ll begin your adventure with the most innocent of tasks: making some friends. And it’s not long before you stumble upon Cartman, Kenny, and all our favorite foul-mouthed youths. Because you refuse to speak, however, the boys resort to calling you “Douchebag” in lieu of a real name.

The refusal to speak isn’t some cruel joke, though. It’s intentional from a game perspective and helps portray your avatar as somewhat of a blank slate. This allows you to customize your character and have some say in how he’ll look, as well as which one of four classes (Fighter, Thief, Mage, or­—appropriately, for the series—Jew) he’ll represent. I ended up making my particular “Douchebag” a Fighter that looked like Walter White from Breaking Bad for most of the game. The only typically standard customization feature locked in stone? Your character must stay a boy, even if you want to dress him up as a girl. Before you get up in arms, this actually makes sense when you analyze it from a plot perspective, because pre-teen boys (especially Cartman) would never want to play make-believe with girls.

After your class and customization options are set, the boys welcome you into the fold with the official title of “Sir” Douchebag. Being named “Douchebag” and having Cartman tell you that if you choose to be a Jew, you can never be true friends is just the beginning of a near-constant barrage of crude humor that might rub more casual fans the wrong way. But as a huge fan of the show, I laughed throughout. Every story beat helps The Stick of Truth feel like an extra-long episode and makes for a joyous celebration of what’s kept South Park such a cable staple for nearly two decades.

The writing isn’t the only thing that makes the game match the mayhem any fan of the show would expect. Parker and Stone clearly spent copious attention on even the tiniest details—you’ll be amazed at how much the animation and art style resemble an actual episode. So much so, in fact, that I actually felt I was a part of the town as I explored familiar landmarks like City Wok, South Park Elementary, and Stark’s Pond.

The old-school, turn-based combat, meanwhile, took me back to my days playing Super Mario RPG, complete with similar timing-based blocks and attacks. Each character has hysterical special attacks appropriate to them, like Cartman farting on a match to roast the entire field of foes. The New Kid’s comparable flatulence-based abilities, meanwhile, can be used as standalone attacks or to bolster normal moves, providing a bit of nuance to what starts out as a simple, straightforward system. But the more I battled, the more I noticed the lack of balance caused by overpowered status effects. If I didn’t knock enemies out in one hit, they’d often die after their first attack due to all of the freezing, burning, bleeding, and “grossing” (the game’s equivalent of poisoning) I’d stacked.

The New Kid’s farting is at its most interesting outside of battle, however, providing four of the ways you interact with the world. “The Sneaky Squeaker,” for example, can be used to distract enemies, while the “Nagasaki” can break down obstacles blocking your path. I just wish it were easier to switch between the different abilities. I’d have preferred if this mechanic were handled by the D-pad, which is instead used to quickly open up tabs in the cluttered menu screen.

The Stick of Truth offers other ways to feel immersed in the South Park universe beyond how well you can clench your sphincter, though. Some are simple, such as firing your toy bow and arrow to hit far-off switches. Others are more complex, like activating an anal probe to teleport between two points (OK, so even some of your other powers deal with your butt). When you use these abilities in tandem with your farting prowess, the world in The Stick of Truth opens up and shows a lot more depth than you might see on the surface.

The only thing about The Stick of Truth that left me truly disappointed is that it’s easily the shortest RPG I’ve ever played. I was able to finish nearly every sidequest, the main campaign, and max out my abilities in only 10 hours. The story felt like it had a natural ending and didn’t feel rushed at all, but I sure do wish there were more to it. If they left me begging for more, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, right?

The Stick of Truth is finally the game Parker and Stone have wanted to represent their beloved comedy series. Not only does it pay tribute to some of the show’s best moments, but it also builds new lore on top of that. As a game—and not just a story—it certainly could be better, but South Park fans will still feel immensely satisfied with the effort.

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment, South Park Digital Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.04.14
Finally, fans of South Park have a game worthy of the TV show. The writing, animation, and little details are all outstanding, and while a few balance issues surface during combat and the main quest is a little short at around 10 hours, those aren’t dealbreakers. No South Park game has captured the sleepy Colorado mountain town quite like this, and show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker delivered on their promise to create a gaming experience that matches the Comedy Central hit.
The Good The Stick of Truth is a game finally worthy of the South Park name.
The Bad A bit short, a bit easy, and a bit unpolished.
The Ugly The poor odds of getting a sequel.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for the Xbox 360 using a retail code provided by Ubisoft.

Originally Published: January 13, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed the Indie Game Cthulhu Saves the World for Xbox 360 from Zeboyd Games.

Originally Published: December 6, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play for the Xbox Live Arcade.

Originally Published: October 7, 2009, to 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com

It is one of the funniest and longest running programs on television and has permeated the pop culture like few shows do, especially ones that reside primarily on basic cable. But the four foul-mouthed youths from South Park on Comedy Central are still going strong and are once again attempting to invade the digital realm.

South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play takes this hugely popular franchise and sticks it in a tower defense game (hence the title). What is amazing is that South Park’s cast of characters makes this straightforward, lackluster genre somewhat fun.

The basic plot is that a mysterious force is sending some of the boys’ most nefarious foes from the past towards the heart of South Park in order to destroy the town once and for all! Homeless people, terrorists, ginger kids, demons, and old people just scratch the surface of the mindless hordes bent on destroying South Park as the boys must set up specially designed towers ranging from fast pitch baseball machines to magnifying glass powered lasers to cherry bomb launchers and fireworks to repel the invading forces over 11 levels from all over South Park and the surrounding area.

Cut scenes between each level help forward the plot (done in the style from the forever classic episode “Good Times With Weapons”) as the boys desperately try to unravel the mystery of who has brought together all of these clearly evil forces (I’m focusing in on you old people!) bent on destroying their peaceful little town and the end revelation will shock you into hysterics.

The best part of the game though is the scrapbook (inspired by the “Cartman Sucks” episode) in which you not only collect images of the foes you defeat along the way, but unlock over 80 original clips from the show highlighting the first appearances of these infamous villains ranging all the way back to Season 1.

Being downloadable content, don’t expect the graphics to be crystal clear, but considering the animation style of South Park, it is more than forgivable. The audio though is top notch with the entire voice cast coming on to do voices and record thousands of original lines for this game.

The game is not perfect though, as the gameplay is a little glitchy. I found it difficult for my characters to run around a lot of times without freezing a little and it was difficult to select which specific tower I wanted to build many times. Add in that it would have been so much easier to set the boys to the four directions of the d-pad instead of constantly having to rotate through them with the right bumper.

The bottom line is that if you are a fan of South Park, you are going to want this game because it is hysterical, but I don’t see it appealing to people otherwise. There are four difficulties to the game and they threw in five challenge maps for when you beat the 8-10 hour campaign, but aside from that there isn’t a lot to bring you back to this except for a couple of classic laughs you might want to replay.

South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play is an Xbox Live exclusive, available tonight (which just so happens to coincide with the new season premiere) for 800 Microsoft Points (roughly $10) and considering the content you get, the price is well worth it if you are a South Park fan.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 8.0: You might download this and gawk at the high graphics score I gave it, but you have to take into consideration the style of animation that South Park is done in, so the game’s actual graphics are close to watching the actual cartoon and the cut scenes, although done in the old school comic book panel by panel style, look awesome.

Audio: 9.0: The game opens with the theme song and the entire cast came on board to voice over thousands of lines of dialogue so I can’t give the audio a poor score. Generic SFX and background music in the levels though docks the overall score a point.

Plot/Plot Development: 9.0: Fans of the show will already be familiar with the surroundings and characters so since this is clearly marketed to the already established fan base (myself included) there wasn’t a need to go into background details. The game starts off like an episode of the sitcom and continues over the course of the day. The mystery is developed well through the cut scenes and the surprise ending fit perfectly into what South Park is all about.

Gameplay: 6.0: Passable, but barely. The gameplay is a bit glitchy and I thought the switching between characters and selecting towers tool was difficult to use at best. The whole game, even with the challenge maps, is probably about 12 hours overall and doesn’t get more straightforward than build towers, delay and kill enemies, don’t die yourself.

Replay Value: 5.0: It is nice that you can do online co-op and play with lots of characters like Jimmy or Pip if you get tired of the boys, but there just isn’t enough here that appeals to me to play through the campaign mode repeatedly on different difficulties to try to unlock all the various clips of episodes I’ve already seen countless times.

Overall (not an average): 8.0: If you love South Park, you will love this game because there is just enough polish to make you try to work through the entire campaign. If you don’t like South Park, then you are going to want to avoid this game, but who doesn’t like South Park? This game is sweeeeeeet.

-Ray Carsillo