Fracture Review: Earth Shattering Fun
Sometimes, all you need to do is add one extra element to an already tried and true genre to make something stale feel new again, and that’s exactly what LucusArts’ new action game “Fracture” does. The added element of terrain deformation (T.D.) adds enough of a new twist on the action genre that “Fracture” makes running and gunning fun again. T.D. does for the 3rd person shooter, what “Gears of War”‘s active reload did for … the 3rd person shooter.
While it may appear to be a gimmick, the ability to control the lay of the land to your advantage ups the ante as you progress through the game. From the outset, your gun is equipped with the ability to raise or lower the ground in front of you with just a single shot. This kind of godlike control factors into both your offensive, and defensive attacks, as well as puzzles found throughout the world. Knowing that you have this kind of control separates this game apart from the numerous other, similar titles on the market, because it alters the way that you stage your attacks, and essentially play the game. In other words, if it is a gimmick, it’s a damn good one.
Easily the second best feature of “Fracture” goes hand in hand with the awesome terrain deformation, and it’s the weapons. While it is standard for just about every game with a “T” or an “M” rating to come with an entire arsenal of guns, there are some truly unique weapons that are included in “Fracture,” and you won’t find anything like them anywhere else. Along with the standard machine guns, and assault and sniper riffles, there are some weapons like you’ve never seen before – terrain deformation weapons. Two particular highlights are the Rhino gun allows you to hurl a giant boulder at your enemies, and the ST-4 that shoots torpedoes into the ground, and allows you to decide when they are going to detonate. In addition to those, there are some unique guns that don’t involve any kind of terrain deformation (unless you count the parts of it that are blown apart), like the Black Widow (cross between a six-shooter and grenade launcher), and the energy-infused Loadstone. Oh, and then there’s the vortex grenade, which sucks in everyone and everything within 100 feet of it – yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Another highlight of “Fracture,” for the daring gamers out there, is that it might actually be the hardest game on the market. If you’re up for a challenge, “Fracture”‘s Hardcore difficulty setting is going to give it to you. I made it half way through Act 1 before I realized there was no way I was going to be able to handle this game’s most difficult setting, something that became even more evident when I ran into trouble on an easier setting. I can’t image how any could make it through the last third of this game on hardcore, and if someone out there does, they deserve every single achievement point they unlock.
While the gameplay in “Fracture” is pretty solid, it is not without it’s imperfections. Perhaps, I’ve been playing too many open world, sandbox style games, but I felt like I should have been able to deform all of the ground in the game, and everything I could see should have been accessible, reminiscent of “Crackdown.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I kept running into invisible walls, over and over, as I tried to investigate some of the areas that were a bit off the beaten path. On the other hand, the game isn’t billed as an open world game, at all, so I’m just complaining.
At the same time, if it were an open world game, it might have had a bit more cohesive story. While the overall idea for the game touches on potential greatness, it doesn’t every really follow through too well. The game is set in a future where the United States of America is torn in two, and two distinct nations have developed. There is essentially an East vs. West Civil War taking place, and, along with that, comes an underlying theme of technology vs. biology as the catalyst for the conflict. While a Civil War II is an intriguing idea, the game mainly focuses on Jet Brody’s (R.I.P. Mason Briggs) story as he travels across the country to stop Washington D.C. from being wiped out by the Pacificans. Overall, there wasn’t much character development, and you never really feel too attached to Jet during the course of the game. Maybe, in “Fracture 0″ we might get to see a prequel to the Jet’s journey, and see more of the back-story to the war.
“Fracture”‘s shortcomings are balanced out by it’s extremely engaging multiplayer. If the terrain deformation really changes the way the single player is played, it completely turns multiplayer upside down. Basically, you can create your own cover no matter where you are on the map, and use it to your advantage. At the same time, the ability to alter the terrain on the boards guarantees that you’ll never see the exact same layout twice. Also, taking the extensive and creative arsenal mentioned above into battle with other humans creates entirely new ways for you to kill your opponents, unlike any you’ve ever experienced before.
Overall, it might be easy to overlook “Fracture” as just another generic shooter about a space marine, but if you give it a shot, you might be surprised just how much it actually has going for it. It’s a fresh take on a genre that needed some freshening up, and if you’re up for the challenge, you should give it a shot. “Fracture” gets a 51 out of $60.*
*2.0′s reviews are based on a sliding scale to help you, the gamer, make better purchasing decisions. The review ratings are based on the cost of the game, so, if an Xbox 360 or PS3 game costs $60, they can get a rating of what the game should cost, somewhere in the range of 0-60. So for this review, “Fracture” received a 51 out of $60, meaning the price that seems appropriate is $51, and if it is ever priced $51 it is a definite purchase. In more traditional terms, 51 out of $60 equals an 8.5.