Biting wit and controversy remains the calling card of 20-season animated comedy South Park, and its latest video game tie-in, South Park: The Fractured but Whole appears to be carrying the torch in a similar fashion.
October 2017's South Park video game opens up proceedings with a character creator that allows players to pick hairstyles, makeup options, and clothing colours.
All very familiar, but move onto the next screen and players are invited to select a difficulty level and skin-tone colour at the same time, by way of a sliding scale: the lightest end of the scale is marked Easy while the darkest skin tone choice is labelled Very Difficult.
"Don't worry," explains core franchise character Eric Cartman, "this doesn't affect combat just every other aspect of your whole life."
Discovered by Eurogamer during an exploratory preview, publisher Ubisoft confirmed to GamesRadar that in this case, the difficulty slider "doesn't affect combat difficulty or any other aspect of gameplay difficulty"; Eurogamer was told "it affects some dialogue options and how much money you can get from encounters."
For players of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, it's a sharp-pointed joke and a cosmetic choice with no other in-game consequence; for observers, its proof that the tie-in, written by South Parkcreators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, retains the series' penchant for acerbic one-liners.
With its story arc themed around an increasingly widespread and lucrative fashion for superhero movies, the Oct 17 game follows on from 2014's critically and commercially successful predecessor South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC, Fractured... arrives a month after Season 21 of South Park makes its Sept 13 premiere on Viacom's Comedy Central. — AFP Relaxnews