Previews

Irreverently awesome – Hands-on the Fractured But Whole at E3

South Park: The Stick of Truth suffered some delays, but it was made all the better for it.  I was hopeful that South Park: The Fractured But Whole would see the same rewards.

My faith was rewarded in all the horrible ways you can expect from minds behind South Park.

Starting my demo as a female sidekick (cape included) to Scott Malkinson aka Captain Diabetes, I find myself in a fairly nasty bathroom as a nearby drunk man sways and pisses all over the floor, mumbling to himself.  Our mission is simple – find a missing cat and collect the reward money, thus allowing us to build our superhero franchise.  It’s here I get to see my “new kid” powers – throwing firecrackers, and cupping my farts and hurling them for maximum nasty effect.  I can also punch things like the nearby trashcan to find all sorts of things I’d rather not put my hands on.  I also discover a new mechanic called “inspection mode” which allows me to highlight and interact with things in the environment.  For instance, I was able to throw a firecracker at a nearby vent to snap up a crafting goodie.

Our mission defined, we push through the door and find that it opens into the Peppermint Hippo – South Park’s very own strip club.  One of the…ahem…”ladies” here has information about the missing cat.  Opening the door and entering the club we see show favorites getting lap dances and drinking.  Asking all of the ladies in the club if they’d come with us to the VIP room, we were told “Daycare is behind the bar sweetie” (and true to form, she wasn’t kidding – there’s a baby in a carrier underneath the mix station), and “Come back when you’re 18”.  Just when we were about to give up, our duo gets approached by two very drunk guys who suggest we head back to the VIP room.  It’s here that things got supremely uncomfortable.

Because of course it is…

Spinning the thumbstick and hammering the X button, my character proceeded to bounce and grind against one of the two drunks while simultaneously farting.  My “patron” commented that it was the strangest lap dance he’s ever received, but he seemed to be enjoying himself.   Captain Diabetus continued to “pump” the other guy for information; he asks, “Have you ever had a dance with someone with a penis tattoo?” to which he reveals that the stripper we need none other than “Classi” (As in 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”).

This is just uncomfortable to watch. *shudder*

Since we got the information we needed, Captain Diabetes reveals us as superheroes, upsetting both of the drunken and confused gentlemen, introducing us to the new combat system.  Combat in South Park: The Stick of Truth was more JRPG style, with allies on one side and foes on the other.  Fractured But Whole breaks that mold, instead moving into a larger combat arena that offers far more customization and choice.

Picking up to four characters (we only had the Captain and my character for the demo), I got a quick look at some of the new mechanics.  Still turn-based, the order of which being displayed in the lower right corner based on attack speed, the game first asks you to move – a first for the series.  Highlighted in blue is your character’s movement distance, allowing you to close distance for melee, create space for ranged attacks, or use a selection of four powers.  The powers for each individual are mapped to the face buttons, most of which ask you to time a button press for additional damage, knockback, or status effect.  For example, the Snowball Flurry applies a chill status effect, causing the enemy to miss their next turn, the Venus Dirt Trap causes tentacles to gnaw at the enemy from the floor, and Faraday Uncaged shocks foes and blasts them back a few squares.  Taking out these two bums I get one of their Peppermint Hippo Loyalty Cards, a roll of breath mints (which are a health restoring item), and $0.27 — cheap bastards.

It is time to fight!

Back on the main floor with my stolen loyalty card, Captain Diabetes notices that any name the stereotypical DJ calls summons that stripper to the main stage.  He’s also not-so-subtly asking anyone to buy him a drink.  We decide to make a drink to distract the DJ so we can announce Classi and get her on stage.  Sneaking into a back room we spot a jar of something on the top shelf that might be useful to spike the DJ’s drink.   Whipping  a firecracker at the stove, it lights on fire, but cupping and launching a fart at it blows the whole thing up, dropping the jar to the floor.  In true South Park fashion, we pick up the “cum and boogers” jar (yes, for real) and combine it with some rat droppings we acquired after scaring a nearby rat with a firecracker.  (The game features a simple crafting system that looks like a phone app) Serving it to the DJ, he runs off to the bathroom in all haste, giving us a chance at the microphone.

Summoning Classi to the main stage, she gives us her trademark “Oh heeeeellll nah” and makes a break for it.  As we give chase, we find out that Classi has a lot of stripper support on her side.  Introduced by the DJ every time they spawned, an endless parade of dancers try to slow our pursuit.  We quickly dispatch Paris, Candi, Esmerelda, and Blaze using attacks that bounce them off of one another, freeze them in place, dashing through them with our “Sugar Rush” attack, and more, we had them on the ropes.  We were unprepared for Spontaneous Bootay.

If you’ve seen Season 10 of South Park, you know that Spontaneous Bootay is the woman who helped Chef break his brainwashing.  Here, however, she’s got Classi’s back, and she’s far too tough to fight.  Indiscriminately smashing friend and foe, she leaps in the air once her “Booty Alert” meter is full, crushing all around her in with her booty attack.  Dishing out a High-Fructose Death Wave, Coma Combo, and Insulin Shock to wipe out the remaining strippers, unleashing Sugar Rush to further dash away from Bootay’s constant advance.   As we burst into the alleyway, we find our escape blocked.

A greasy mobster blocks our path, but his warning shot in the air drops the wall sign on his head. Desperate, Captain Diabetes, downing a fist full of pixie stix and a box of 100% Apple Juice swells to epic proportions…and then falls to the ground in a diabetic coma as he’s out of insulin, thus ending the demo.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole’s delay has been nothing but good for the game.  It’s as irreverent, disgusting, and hilarious as ever, but now it has the gameplay to match.   It’s also one of the best damned things I saw at E3 this year — you have every reason to be very excited.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole ships on October 17th 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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