After the successful South Park: The Stick of Truth, South Park returns to gaming once more for South Park: The Fractured But Whole, trading it’s fantasy elements for super heroes but retaining the turn-based gameplay and irreverent humor. Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone return as directors, writers, and voice actors. The game is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 17, 2017. While many are excited for the game, the game has already gained controversy in true South Park fashion.
Here’s everything you need to know.
1. The Game Was Originally Slated for Release in 2016 & Is Not the First South Park Game
South Park: The Fractured But Whole was first announced during E3 2015. Back then, it was slated for release on December 6, 2016.
However, the game was delayed to Q1 2017 due to the development teams, Ubisoft, Ubisoft San Francisco, and South Park Digital Studios LLC, wanting to ensure that the game meets the expectations of fans. Then it was further delayed to the current release date.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole and it’s predecessor The Stick of Truth were not the first games based on South Park. A whole bunch of games were released starting with 1998’s South Park on the N64 (later ported to the PS1 and PC). However these titles were poorly received, leading to a nine year hiatus on South Park games after 2000’s South Park Rally. The series would pick up again after South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! in 2009 and South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge in 2012, culminating with the critical success of South Park: The Stick of Truth in 2014.
A Game Boy Color game was planned but it was cancelled and then reworked by Acclaim into The New Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley, according to Unseen 64. Ubisoft got Developer Buzz Monkey Games to work on an open world South Park game for the GameCube, Xbox, and PS2 in 2004, but the project was cancelled.
There’s also an upcoming real-time strategy game coming to mobile devices known as South Park: Phone Destroyer.
2. The Game Has New Features & Mechanics
In The Fractured But Whole, you’ll once again be playing as your own customizable protagonist going through turn-based RPG gameplay with other South Park characters as you did in The Stick of Truth. However, the game’s website promises twice the amount of content in The Fractured But Whole as its predecessor.
A website post dives into the game’s combat, which features characters moving around the battleground grid strategically, using cover and environmental obstacles to your advantage. You can use some powers to move enemies into position and then flank them or knock them into other fighters or obstacles. You can even change the order of attacks or skip the enemies’ turns altogether with the power of farts. Attacks can be further enhanced with properly timed button presses. In addition to standard attacks, you get access to table-turning Ultimates that build up over time.
You can also craft items found in the overworld to create power-boosting artifacts and other items.
3. A Recent Trailer Lampoons Kanye West and His Video Game
To celebrate the game going gold, Ubisoft released a trailer showing a scenario from the game. The video has you along with Sea Man (ha ha) meeting up with Kanye West, represented as a gay fish as a callback to a joke dating back to 2009 according to Pink News. West tasks the player with helping his mother get to heaven as she rides on the back of a farting unicorn in Flappy Bird gameplay.
The whole scenario is a parody of West’s real life video game, Only One, which was announced February 2015 for iOS devices. The game has Kanye’s mother Donda West, who died after cosmetic surgery complications in 2007, flying through the gates of heaven. Kanye’s team said that the game is still in production, but sources told Business Insider that the game’s future is uncertain following a production halt lasting over a year.
4. The Game Is Already Controversial, Namely For Its Character Creator
South Park has always been a contentious property since it’s debut on August 13, 1997, and it’s video games are no different.
Many were offended with the recent trailer lampooning Kanye West, but by far the biggest controversy surrounding The Fractured But Whole so far is the difficulty meter changing the protagonist’s skin color. The darker your skin tone, the harder the game becomes. Eurogamer reports that the difficulty meter doesn’t affect combat but affects the amount of money you receive and the way other characters speak to you.
After creating your character, you can then choose to be male, female, and other. Since your protagonist is the same here as in the last game and was referred to as a boy, the game spends time retconning the last game if you choose to be female. Afterwards, you can choose to identify as either cisgender or transgender. You can see the exchange play out in the video above.
Many were dubious of the whole situation with the character creator. Laura Kate Dale of Kotaku UK writes that while on the surface tying skin tone to difficulty seems like a good joke and good social commentary on racism and the wage gap, it assumes that the players playing the game are white and choose to play as a black character to play on hard mode and get the credibility that comes with it and maybe learn about racism on the way. For black players, if they want to play as a character that represents them, the game is going to punish them for it. This may not be the case as this is before the final product comes out, but Dale said she’s not going to give the game the benefit of the doubt and is in fact bracing herself for the worst.
She even got into contact from African-American Streamer Tanya DePass with her take on the matter:
Having left South Park ages ago because of their racism, homophobia, transphobia and other failures at being good comedy, I have little hope that this gesture will do anything but create fodder for those who already hate equality to condemn those who they previously considered heroes. This move is far too little and way too late.
If there were any POC involved in this decision, I’d love to hear from them, otherwise this comes off as an empty gesture in the disguise of ‘fairness” and making a statement on current affairs.
As for the option to play as a trans character, Dale said that she’s also worried that it will just lead to other characters saying “‘hilarious’ shitty things to you.” She said that the show has spent numerous episodes saying that trans people change gender easily and on a whim, that transition is done for societal gain, and has a character dedicated to mocking those pushing for social change and reform. “It’s not a show I trust to treat minority rights with the nuance it needs,” she said.
The Stick of Truth was also controversial, featuring scenes involving alien probes and abortion clinics that were not shown in Europe and Australia to appease ratings boards. These scenes were replaced with a picture of the European Union flag with a facepalming statue in the European version and a crying koala in the Australian version with text describing the scene.
5. A Nintendo Switch Version Was Teased in March
The official Twitter for South Park strongly hinted at a Nintendo Switch port in the tweet above. So far it’s only confirmed for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. However, a Switch port isn’t too far off as Ubisoft has shown support for the system with the release of Just Dance 2017, Rayman Legends Definitive Edition, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
In fact, the system is getting some healthy support from third parties, with upcoming games including the remastered edition of L.A. Noire, Doom (2016), Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Skyrim.
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