After the success of its predecessor, South Park™: The Stick Of Truth™, many fans have been begging for a sequel. Well, it wouldn’t be Ubisoft if they didn’t milk the cow dry and thus South Park™: The Fractured But Whole™ was born. Apparently, many fans have not been exactly satisfied with the direct continuation of the original masterpiece and thus a question emerges: “Can anybody blame them?”
“Different” does not mean “better”
Well, let’s start with the most technical aspects… The combat is “meh”. It remains turn-based, but in addition, character movement has been implemented. On its own, that sounds as an improvement, but the result just doesn’t work well. It drags itself as a limping horse, reaching the destination, yet in quite an embarrassing fashion. The “entertaining” special attack animations butter the overall experience, but it still cannot be considered smooth. That’s not even considering the dreadful bugs – after all, it is a Ubisoft game. There have been some additions of the non-combat mechanics in various forms of interaction with the environment, ranging from hardly funny to quite tasteless – repetitive in both cases. Both the combat and the non-combat interaction have simply left a horrible taste in my mouth – they seem to be there just to pro-long the gameplay time and excuse the price. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t seem to work.
Let’s be fair, the reason why people buy this game isn’t the gameplay, but the humour of Matt Stone and Trey Parker who are sure to guarantee a satisfying experience, right? Well, yes and maybe. It’s true that fans will surely buy the game exactly for that reason, but let’s be honest – The original game worked well because of the great theme and awesome execution, not purely for the reason of “being South Park”. So, does the sequel hold up? Kind of. The superhero theme of the game simply is less appealing then a medieval fantasy and there seems to be a lack of good ideas to warrant a substantial story, which results in a crazy extravaganza of scenes balancing between the realms of dark humor and simply lacking taste. Don’t get me wrong, it Is funny as hell and you will have a great time, but after you’re done with the game, you will be left with the feeling of eating a cake without an icing – tasty, yet not fulfilling.
Where did all go wrong?
So, what could have been changed? It’s hard to tell. I have mentioned the less appealing themes and a lack of ideas, as well as the “meh” game mechanics and multiple bugs. It seems as if the game was created purely for the reason of a “making a sequel” with the “ideas” being an afterthought. Is it the low energy or the or the lesser humour of the late era of South Park – a phenomenon seen in other long running shows, such as The Simpsons? Well, it’s hard to believe that such a fall in quality would occur in a span of just three years. So, what if… maybe this simply is the best that could have been done with the material at disposal? After all, it’s not bad, it’s quite good! But it falls way behind the predecessor so drastically. Maybe we should all accept, that not every game can be a masterpiece and treat it just as an average South Park episode.