Set for release in 2017, South Park: The Fractured But Whole was one of the playable demos at Ubisoft’s booth at the EB Expo. I was hesitant going in – as a massive South Park fan, I was left slightly let down by its predecessor, The Stick of Truth. While it’s obviously difficult to get a complete picture of a game from only a ten minute demo, here is what I learned:

There are twelve character classes, however only three were unlocked in the demo (the Brutalist, the Blaster and the Speedster), and only one was actually playable in the demo, that being the Speedster.

The game is still riddled with references and in-jokes from the show, including earlier seasons. From seeing a Beefcake shirt in the wardrobe, and Sea Monkeys on the desk, to finding a toilet harness in a drawer, and a camcorder and blindfold in Cartman’s Mum’s room – it hasn’t lost the nostalgic feel from Stick of Truth.

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The dialogue has that classic South Park feel of mixing real life arguments into South Park arguments – “Super Craig had to have his own movies before Wonder Tweak was introduced, otherwise it would make no sense!” and the piss-take of modern advertising was there – all you had to do was turn the in-game TV on.

The cut scenes felt like scenes from South Park episodes the way I wanted them to, and though they were funny, I only actually laughed once. The rest was more like internal chuckling, with the occasional rapid expelling of air from my nose. The guy next to me however, could not stop laughing, so maybe it was just me.

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The combat seems to have been completely overhauled, with a grid-like system introduced. You choose where you will stand in the grid – either closer or further away from the enemy, and can also move side to side in some battles – and your move effectiveness depends on where you stand. For example, there is one move The Speedster has that rushes two enemies in a row, then rushes back and hits the first one again. If you stand as close as possible, and there is only one enemy, the rush back will injure yourself. With only a few minutes dedicated to combat, I was not able to get a real feel for it, or test much out, but from what I have seen, it looks more involved that Stick of Truth’s combat system.

And then just like that, I got a tap on the shoulder telling me the demo was over. The hesitance I felt walking into the booth was gone, and I am starting to think (and very much hope) that they did the game right this time.

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