South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Gold Edition)
This game and I started off on the wrong foot, as it made quite a bad first impression on me on the technical side.
First of all, it's made for 16:9 resolutions, and when I chose a 16:10 resolution, like my native 1680*1050, the image was displayed with bars on the top and bottom edges of the screen, which wouldn't have been an issue if these bars had been black, but for some reason they were actually light grey which I thought ugly and immersion-breaking. I was already fearing that I might have to play the whole game like that, but choosing one of the lower resolutions fixed the color and turned the bars black like they're supposed to be.
While I was experimenting with the settings, I started the game but during the intro I decided to go back to the main menu and change some settings. The game wouldn't let me. You can't abort the intro cutscenes to go back to the main menu or even the settings menu. You can only pause them, or try to skip them, which will provoke resistance and insults from Cartman (mildly funny), and when he finally let's you skip after several tries, you skip the whole game and the credits roll. The idea is okay as a joke, if a bit clumsily implemented, but after that, the cutscenes start from scratch. So your only way out of them is to watch. IMO that's kind of a douchebag design decision, to sacrifice user-friendliness for the sake of a joke, and it also shows a fundamental ignorance of the diverse reasons why people may actually feel the need to skip cutscenes. Apparently the designers were aware that a demand for this functionality exists, and still didn't really seem to understand why, and they only implemented it half-assed, so while later in the game you sometimes get an option to skip cutscenes, at other times you don't, and particularly not where the ultimate attack moves are concerned, the cutscenes of which will be repeated a lot during combat.
The next issue I experienced were long loading times and occasional crashes. Two times the game crashed to desktop when I had loaded it up and pressed Continue - luckily my worst fears didn't come true and none of the save files were corrupted; the next time I tried, it worked, and I didn't lose any progress. The third crash happened later in the game, during the end phase of one of the final fights, and this time it completely froze my PC so that I had to do a hard reset. I had to repeat the combat, but it wasn't as much of a big deal as I feared either. Still, a forced hard reset is pretty bad regardless.
The game itself had some minor irritations in store for me as well, but it turned out I was too quick to judge them. In the beginning the gender of my female character was ignored by the cutscenes (the parents talking about "him"), but it turned out to be a joke, and it evolved into something quite funny. I think it's also related to the previous game, The Stick of Truth, assuming the main character was a boy? But it's been so long since I played it that I didn't remember that part.
The second mild irritation was the new combat system, which is not only tactical turn-based but using a grid involving positioning this time (while the first game was just old school JRPG menu based combat). That's refreshing, but in the beginning it takes some getting used to that each attack move has its own very specific range and attack pattern, and most of them are horizontal only, so if you stand in the same vertical column as an opponent, even right next to them, most often you can't touch them at all, which seemed weird until I understood that those are just the rules and that choosing varied attack moves with different patterns, including vertical ones, is an essential tactic later on, once you get more variety concerning classes and attack moves. The moving patterns can also seem weird at times, like a character being able to move 3 steps to the right, but not one to the left or so. And very little of how the combat works is actually explained very clearly (although it's possible that there is a combat manual in the menu, I forgot to look; I just don't like reading manuals and prefer important stuff to be explained in-game). ;) Not that this actually made the combats difficult, they're quite easy on Normal difficulty most of the times, I hardly ever had to repeat a combat in the game. But if you know what you're doing, they might not take quite as long. It's also a bit of a pity that you gain so many different attack moves but you can only ever use three plus one ultimate attack at the same time, which somewhat decreases the appeal of experimenting a lot with the various moves, IMO. I'd have preferred to have four plus one combat slots, at least.
All that being said, the game turned out to be great fun and even though I'm aware that this isn't a common opinion, I think I loved it just as much or even more than The Stick of Truth. It's still very true to the source material and just as funny, and to me the superhero theme added to the enjoyment. The Gold Edition comes with three DLCs; the best one was From Dusk till Casa Bonita because it offered cool new locations, an amusing plot and maybe 2-3 hours extra; Bring the Crunch I liked a little less, because it was very heavy on puzzles and item related quests that I often solved accidentally, and in the wrong order, without having learned about them first, which decreased my enjoyment of them a bit, while plot and opponents were less interesting and funny. It's still okay though, and just as the first DLC, it also unlocks a new class and a new companion, and especially the class is pretty bad-ass, and usable in the main game as well. The third DLC, Danger Deck, I skipped, as it's just a couple of more challenging combats with rather meagre rewards and no story. As a completionist and slowpoke who likes to take his time and who even left the game running while doing other things at times, I think I put something between 30 and 40 hours into the game. I don't know about the regular prices for the game and its DLCs, but I bought the complete package in a sale for 15 EUR, and after I got over the initial annoyances, I thought it was totally worth it.
On the technical side, it could have been a little more user-friendly at times, but the game itself delivers. In the end, I enjoyed it just as much as the first one.
Post edited January 27, 2019 by Leroux