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Game Review

The half-hour animated comedy South Park launched in 1997 on the Comedy Central cable network. And the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have consistently said that their primary driving force is to make each other laugh—whether that involves a rollicking parade of cultural satire or nothing more than a bunch of "dumb fart jokes."

Which brings us to South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the seventh video game based on this popular series.

On the Fractured Face of Things

Like the series itself, this game's cover looks colorful and cut-out-construction-paper-character silly. For that matter, even the game's premise superficially smacks of cuteness and light.

The whole idea is that a bunch of small town kids are running around town in homemade superhero outfits, engaging in make-believe RPG battles along the way. You know, the kind of turn-based kiddie contest where they move around on a grid-like template and pretend they can fly or shoot lasers out of their eyes.

The child heroes here have their own origin stories. And their special abilities range from delivering big punches to conjuring up ice blasts to super-fast running to shooting plumes of green gassiness out of their backsides. Those imaginary battles are the sort of silly stuff that has to be halted from time to time and shuffled from the street to the sidewalk so a neighbor and his car can drive past.

Again, to the uninitiated it all sounds kind of cute. But if that's the story that the kids are feeding you, Mom, to cajole you into picking up this innocuous looking video game, well, I'm glad you stopped by here first.

Not So Cute

The truth is, the South Park franchise in any of its iterations has always been about raising a giggle by shocking people in every profane and flat-out obscene way possible. And The Fractured But Whole carries on that mission with as much repugnant enthusiasm as the show's first episodes did nearly two decades ago. In fact, if anything, Parker and Stone have had to keep upping the ante on the gross-out gags just to keep from getting bored, it would seem.

What that translates into here is story with plot points and mini-games that'll keep you blanching. For one thing, the language spewed out by these cartoon kids (all for the sake of a good heehaw, of course) would make a longshoreman feel like a grade schooler. It's filled with raw, f-bomb-laden screeds and crude sex talk.

Mini-games include machinations about defecating in as many toilets in town as possible as well as kid characters giving lap-dances to randy businessmen in a men's club. Another challenge involves gathering up as many Japanese Yaoi drawings—depicting male teens kissing and caressing other male kids—from various bathrooms and private hideaways as possible.

Oh, and those RPG battles I mentioned? They include combat with groping priests; overweight, nearly naked strippers; and various other pedophiles, sex workers and drug addicts. Other visual and verbal references include various sex acts, racist cops, bodily excretions, nudity, mixed-gender sexuality, used feminine hygiene products, drunken actions, satanic symbols, illicit drugs and adult sex toys. And that's not all: the game also includes smears against kids with disabilities, anal-focused quips, gay slurs and racist gags throughout its running patter.

Pardon Me While I Gag

Do I need to go on? No, I don't. And trust me, I tried to approach the above summary of this game's raunchy, profane and controversial content with as much sensitivity as possible. Actual gameplay is much more explicitly raw.

The Fractured But Whole may be a cute-looking but absurd load of waste matter created to keep Parker and Stone chuckling all the way to the bank. But it's hardly a laughing matter when it comes to your family room.

Positive Elements

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Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC




October 17, 2017

On Video

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Bob Hoose