South Park The Fractured But Whole dropped earlier this week. For you guys I went ahead and plowed through the game at record speed, did all the sidequests and even the few secret missions. Here’s the overall opinion that I walked away with: the game is fun and a serviceable sequel to The Stick of Truth, but it doesn’t feel as fresh or novel, doesn’t feel as whole, and left me with an overall sense of mild letdown.
That’s not to say there aren’t good aspects. The combat system itself is dramatically improved. Turn based combat has been improved by a grid system that allows special abilities and characters to have more diversity. Additionally, you have a very sizable cast of allies at your disposable, granting a lot of customization options for your party. Like most things about this game compared to its predecessor, though, it’s one step forward, one step back.
Leveling up feels incredibly linear. There’s very little possibility to specialize your character. As you gain experience, you get the ability to attach a greater number of superhero DNA artifacts that increase your character’s abilities. Unfortunately, though there are tons of these artifacts, they’re all 99% identical to one another. They give exactly the same stat bonuses with the only differentiating factor being mild bonuses to some sub-characteristic. These bonuses aren’t nothing but in practice, they’re barely noticeable at all.
The control scheme is outright bizarre and takes a lot of getting used to. I played on PC and it definitely felt like it was intended to be played on a console. You can use the mouse most of the time, but not all the time. When forced to move via the keyboard, movement is done FPS style via WASD instead of RPG style via the arrow keys. Your skills are mapped to 1, 2, 3 and 0 which makes no sense; as I’m sure you know, 1, 2 and 3 are on the left side of the keyboard above WASD and 0 is on the right. So you have to reach all the way across the keyboard to do your ultimate skill. I realize that sounds like the most first world problem ever, but it’s annoying.
Compounding the bizarre control scheme is the fact that the game is full to the brim with unnecessary quicktime events. Over the course of the game you get the ability to summon your pals to help you with puzzles, each one with a very easy associated quicktime event like “hold the right arrow key and A key for 3 seconds.” The first time it’s a little amusing. Unfortunately, you have to use these skills constantly and those quicktime events start feeling like a chore almost immediately.