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Tuesday | September 18, 2018
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Fracture (X360 & PS3)

Fracture (X360 & PS3)

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Those of you who have been following the progress of Fracture will be aware that this 3rd person romp brings something new to the gaming world, you can raise or lower the terrain via devices in the game. Is this just a cool gimmick or are Lucasarts and Day 1 Studios actually breaking the mould?

The game is set in 2161 and you take the role of Jet Brody, a member of the Atlantic Alliance’s armed forces. Climate change has resulted in the midwest flooding and the east and west have broken apart with sea between them. The east (Atlantic Alliance) has started to rely on technology to help improve their world while the west (The Republic Of Pacifica) is now experimenting with genetic modifications to set their future plans in motion.

Jet (your character, not a plane) flies out to the Pacifican home base in San Francisco just as the president makes an announcement  to ban all genetic modifications. This doesn’t sit too well with the Pacifican resistance leader General Nathan Sheridan, so it is up to Jet Brody to infiltrate Sheridan’s military base to find out what he is doing and to take out any possible security threats.

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Thankfully Jet has a huge arsenal of hardware at his disposal, such as the super suit which is very reminiscent of the one the Chief wore in Halo. This suit gives Jet a shield which is represented on screen by a blue bar, the mechanic is familiar – if you take hits it lowers and if you avoid fire for a while it regenerates. As well as the very helpful shield system there are over 12 weapons available and these range from very run of the mill shotguns and pistols to the Rhino (throws electrically charged boulders at the enemies) and ALM-37 Deep Freeze (turns your opponents into frozen blocks). You are limited to carrying two weapons simultaneously but you can drop them at any time to make way for ones you find on your travels.

To compliment the guns you have access to four grenades which are utilised by the D-pad. Three of these shape the environment (one raises the landscape into a hill, second will create a crater and the last will create a spike which raises high into the sky) and the last The Vortex Grenade creates a tiny black hole which sucks everything to its position while spinning it around (and either destroying or damaging it in the process).

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As well as the array of grenades the focal point of Fracture is the Entrencher which is a weapon allowing you to raise or lower the ground to your heart’s desire. This means if you arrive at a wall you can’t scale then you can raise the ground in front of it to climb over. This also works in reverse, meaning sometimes you can get to a gate under the surface. There is no ammo attached to this gun, you just need to wait a short while for it to recharge after using.

This is where I can address the developers focus on these weapons – they are certainly very cool pieces of hardware, but I can’t help but feel after beating the game that the reliance on these has ended up with the level design suffering.

The terrain system works well as you can not only use the landscape to reach different areas but you can use it as a cover system. If you are in a room with too many enemies and are about to end up in a body bag you can quickly raise the land to recover, rearm and take a breather. Unfortunately while this sounds extremely original, the Entrencher gun is limited to dirt based ground. It won’t work on metal, concrete or even marble. Another downside is if you are in a building and stuck on a puzzle, normally looking around for the spot of dirt leads to the escape plan.

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The story is broken up into three sections, San Francisco, the southwest and Washington D.C. and the game design leads me back again to the games inherent flaw, the game is very repetitive. You are forced to repeat the same actions, over and over again and by the time you finish (unless you have the patience of a saint) you will be bored.

This is not helped at all by the computer AI, the Pacificans are extremely dumb. They are limited to running and shooting, generally straight towards you. What makes it worse is the fact you can use a sniper rifle, hit a guy in the chest and he continues to sit there as if nothing has happened until you do it a few more times and he dies. I really don’t find AI like this acceptable in 2008. Combine this with the fact that all the Pacificans have identical voices and all act in the same manner (apart from the bosses) then you can see where I am going with this.

Sure, the Pacficians have some variations, such as guys in red suits who have rocket launchers but generally you feel like you fighting a robot who keeps respawning in a never ending rinse and repeat cycle.
Graphically the game is not as impressive as many had hoped it would be and this is generally because the still frames look quite nice, but once they move the quality drops. The Playstation 3 version seems to suffer slightly from worse detail as well as the occasional hiccup with frame rate which can only lead me to the conclusion that the coding is less than stellar. Additionally the Xbox 360 version looks slightly sharper and more colourful. The cutscenes are also quite poor due to the rather intense compression and shoddy frame rates.

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The audio side of the game is merely acceptable with some decent spot effects and weapons fire. The voice-acting  is believable but there isn’t really anything outstanding which comes to mind. Quite forgettable really.

Multiplayer is pretty good with support for up to 12 players in eight different game types on eight different maps. We are presented with the usual Capture the Flag and Deathmatch however Fracture allows the use of the Entrencher gun to raise and lower the environment. You can use the Rhino to throw rocks, as well as sneak under doors via the landscape to land some sneaky kills. You can also wreck the enemy towers via these tools to rack up the points.

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My biggest disappointment with Fracture was the fact I played it months ago at a conference and I felt with some time and effort it could have been a brilliant game. What has transpired however is that the core elements of the game have clearly been ignored or overlooked with the intense focus on the environmental shaping tools at the players disposal. At the end of the day it is a very average game with some cool ideas which never really came to fruition.

Very average with monotonous gameplay.
Quite poor, if you play this after Gears Of War, prepare to be shocked.
Acceptable but nothing out of the ordinary.
Multiplayer might add some long term gameplay but there are better multiplayer games out there.
(Not an Average)
A lost opportunity.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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