South Park has been on so long that fans have grown to see the TV series grow from scatological upstart to scatological elder statesman of comedy. And series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have grown South Park into a media empire that extends all the way to video games. In fact, they build just the type of profitable operation Cartman is obsessed with making in the upcoming South Park RPG sequel. And we finally got to laugh along with the game while getting hands-on with the South Park: The Fractured But Whole Gamescom demo.
The demo in question was the same as the team showed off during Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, but it was more fun to actually control the protagonist while they walked around Cartman’s home a.k.a. the home base of The Coon. Searching around Cartman’s room for Easter eggs or whatever horrors you might find in Cartman’s Mom’s bedroom was a fun time killer before pushing forward with the story. And when it was time to set up your character, that’s when South Park: The Fractured But Whole really started getting funny.
After South Park: The Stick of Truth mocked fantasy staples like The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, the series now sets its sights on the dominant superhero films and TV series dominating media. And it doesn’t shy away from the comparisons either. When choosing a class like a super fast runner, Cartman is quick to say you’re like Flash or Quicksilver, not even shying away from the source material they’re referencing. But then why should they? South Park: The Fractured But Whole sets the schoolchildren up for a civil war because they want to build a film franchise as profitable as the one that birthed Captain America: Civil War.
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The demo follows just like the E3 hands-off demo, where you find out your origin is being angered by seeing your dad have sex with your mom, and then you set off for a quick battle. Getting to play it this time around gave me a better sense of what had changed in the combat. There were more varied attacks and more chances at pulling off combos based on placement in the tiled battlefield. And the exploration was more engaging too, with quick QTEs spicing up the usual searches for treasure.
With all the fun combat on offer, it’s just as impressive that South Park: The Fractured But Whole can also pull off great humor as the action unfolds. The boys arguing about the business behind massive Marvel or DC franchises is some great background detail for fights and insightful commentary about how the planning of these films is becoming more important to fans than the films themselves. I can’t wait to see what else they pull out to mock the massive comic book media empires that currently dominate pop culture.
The only minor quibble with the South Park: The Fractured But Whole Gamescom demo is that it was so very brief and that it covered a section of the game we’d already seen. Such limited exposure to the title is troubling for a game that’s planned to come out on December 6 this year. Especially when the previous game faced so many delays. Here’s hoping I’m just worrying too much and that the game is on track to be a filthy holiday present this December.