South Park: The Fractured but Whole E3 Previews

Ubisoft's South Park: The Fractured but Whole was one of several role-playing games to be shown off at this month's E3, and that means we get to chew through (and chuckle at the contents of) various previews that have made their way online.

With this year’s E3 demo of The Fractured But Whole, I started off by farting (possibly more, it sounded kind of wet) in the men’s bathroom of a seedy strip-club. I knocked a condom off of the ceiling and looted the mysterious substance it contained while a very drunk man flooded the urinal behind me. I gave the aforementioned, fart-fueled lapdance, and then went and found another jar full of this mysterious substance, mixed with boogers, and collected some rat poop. After mixing it all together with some gin and tonic, I farted on it, punched a baby, and delivered it to the Strip Club DJ.

A lot of what you actually do in South Park is throw items at shiny objects that are out of reach to get them in your hands, or interact with yellow doorknobs or handles to open things. That’s easy enough, if a little finicky at times, but The Fractured But Whole’s significantly enhanced loot and crafting systems make it much more rewarding than they were in the first game. With most of the jokes and aesthetic already perfected in the first game, Ubisoft have doubled down on RPG elements, including full character customization and classes.

The exploration and puzzle-solving mechanics are actually pretty interesting, though. Anything you see in the game's environments that's yellow is something you can interact with, either by walking up to it and pushing a button, or by holding down L2 to enter a targeting mode. That lets you hit distant objects with a thrown firecracker or an explosive fart (it's that kind of game), which can set things on fire, break fragile objects, and startle animals and people. There's a little bit of old-fashioned adventure game logic in there, as well as some nicely detailed environments.

When a fight starts — like when the two drunk guys realize you are not tiny exotic dancers — the game turns into a tactical RPG. You can move freely within each character's range, and use three different special moves to inflict status ailments, knock enemies into other squares, or move your characters quickly. Your character has a couple of different ways to slow down enemies, costing them actions and their spots on the game's initiative meter, while Captain Diabetes is a straight-up bruiser who can plow through several units in front of him at once.

RPG Site:
What would a hands-on of a turn based RPG be without explaining how the combat worked? At one point of the demo two drunk customers demanded their money back after I was unable to give them a satisfactory lap dance, so naturally, it was time to throw down.

Combat in Fractured But Whole is grid-based, and there’s a strong emphasis on positioning. You need to consider both where your party members and where the enemies are on the grid in order to successfully execute an attack. What’s particularly interesting is you can actually align your party so they can work together to pull off powerful spells and attacks.

PlayStation LifeStyle:
After getting the information they wanted about a “girl with a penis tattoo,”the two adolescents decided that they had to distract the strip club DJ so they could lure the stripper on stage. To do this, I had to find ingredients so that I could concoct a disgusting drink. This led to a puzzle that felt straight out of an adventure game, as I had to scour the strip club for booze, rat turds, and other nasty things that no man should ever ingest.

Finding these ingredients were a pretty simple task, although it did require me to solve some puzzles along the way. In one backroom, I had to drag a stepladder so I could reach a higher area. Another had me throwing a fire cracker in order to cause a fire, which I then made explode by adding a fart to the mix. Neither interaction was super complex, but I way always engaged with the game.

Pocket Lint:
There are more dynamics than that too: The stripper Spantaneous Bootay is like a mini boss who will slowly (and we mean ever so slowly, given her mass) move one square across the play grid every time a timer elapses. So you're forced to make snap decisions to escape being eaten up by those giant cheeks.

Which makes for a pretty complicated stuff for an apparent simple toilet humour show. The Fractured But Whole embraces being a proper turn-based game, while not shying from its duties as a South Park title. It's crude, it's rude, it's pretty gross out and if you're a South Park fan then you'll probably love it.

From the moment I entered the club — by sneaking through the bathroom of course — its quality was obvious. I almost didn’t spot the used condom stuck to the ceiling because my focus was on an inebriated guest aggressively slurring at me while endlessly urinating. Once I saw the decoration up there I (obviously) had to throw a firecracker to see if I could knock it down and collect it. It worked… but in the end, I decided not to loot the resulting puddle.

Quite literally, that was just my first thirty seconds within South Park and I was already squirming. After entering the main room in the club, my mission expanded. We had to find a dancer with a rather specific tattoo that goes by the name Classi. You know, Classi “with an I, and a little dick hanging off the C that bends around and fucks the L out of the A, S, S.” By that point, I was wishing I could have just misspelled it.

And New Game Network:
Bootay is a plus-sized stripper whose main attack is to leap in the air and land on her butt, crushing anything beneath it. Again, I find myself wondering what is supposed to be the joke. Is Bootay supposed to be repugnant because of her weight? Is the unconventional butt-attack supposed to be what is funny? It’s all almost bizarre enough to be interesting, if not laugh out loud funny.

Bootay’s butt takes me out, but Captain Diabetes dash attack comes in handy again as he continues to charge through the strippers until we’ve escaped out the back. Once outside, we chase Classi into an apartment and Malkinson knocks on the door, demanding that she come back.