Product Type: Activision Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... as it is set it what could happen in reality, with global warming, DNA alterations and cybernetics all being present. The game... more
Does it reshape the ground of gaming?
Fracture (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Fracture (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Great graphics, interesting Terrain deformation mechanic, online play.
Disadvantages: Repetitive, sometimes frustrating difficulty, quite short.
Fracture takes the modern day crisis of Global warming to use for its storyline. The year is 2161, and it seems that global warming has split the USA into two countries, and divided their people too. One side, the evil Pacificans, decided to alter DNA to survive the climate change, while the other side, The Atlantic Alliance, used cybernetics. The government decide to ban DNA modification, causing a hostile attack from the Pacificans. You play as Jet Brody, who must use his advanced technology to survive and destroy the Pacificans. It's an okay plot, if a bit ridiculous. The characters aren't exactly memorable, and some of the moments in the game are laughable.
Fracture controls like your standard shooter in most respects. The game uses the same over-the-shoulder view as games like Gears of War and Dark Sector. The controls had to be adjusted a bit to include the terrain changing abilities. The bumpers are used to lower and rise to terrain, meaning typical control mapping is out of the window. The triggers are used to show and throw grenades, so if you have played Gears of War too much, you may throw many accidental grenades when you want to aim down the sights. That feature is oddly mapped to the right analog stick, which is an odd place to put an important feature. The face buttons are used to reload, sprint, switch weapon and jump. You can choose your grenade with the D-pad. There is some funky mapping, but the control scheme works and is very responsive.
Fracture's level design is quite typical really. The game is split up into missions, each of which simply asks you to travel through the level and complete any other objectives along the way. The game usually forces you through a series of gunfights throughout the whole game, with about twenty minutes for a driving section which I don't think we should talk about because of how bad it is. Let's just say that it feels like a driving section forced into an action game. Alone in the Dark did it, Mass Effect did it, hell even Gears of War did it, though aside from the first game, the driving sections weren't too bad. The point is that Fracture plays out like a lot of typical third-person shooters though one nifty trick is that the game only has load times at the beginning of levels-the rest of the game is seamless until you turn off your 360 and load the game up again.
There are some things that not only separate Fracture from other shooters, but some older elements done well. The big gimmick of Fracture is the terrain deformation, the big touted feature of Fracture. Like a map editor from a game like Far Cry, you can use a special ability to lower and raise the ground into a mound or a ditch. It is a great feature, as you can constantly raise the ground to use as cover, as well as lower it to drop enemies in and trap them, and of course shoot up the ground to send enemies flying. Unfortunately, the feature could have been better integrated into the game. Rather than letting you use the feature constantly, the game instead forces you to use dirt mounds only. It's understandable, as it's a bit weird having you raise the ground under something like concrete or metal, but it looks awfully funny when you're in an industrial area, only to see a huge area of dirt in the middle.
The terrain deformation is also poorly used at times. As you're traversing the game's missions, sometimes there's a little blockage so what do you do? Lower the ground to go under the blockage! There's a ledge that's a little bit too high up for your jump so what now? Raise the ground so you can literally touch the ledge. There's also a terrible puzzle sequence in the first or second act where you must raise the ground, then use a special grenades to create a huge spike. If you were a slight inch away from the ledge, you'd fall thanks to Jet Brody's lack of being able to grab ledges. Top this off with annoying, respawning enemies on the ground and you have a frustrating experience. Most of the puzzles are much less complicated than this, but this lone puzzle took me half an hour to finish which is very, very lame.
Thankfully, Fracture has great weapons to back up its terrain-deforming chaos. There are a decent amount of weapons, including multiple assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and more. There are some stand-out weapons, including the Rhino which uses the ground to create a ball which crushes enemies instantly, though it can bounce back and kill you. There's also the awesome weapons which freeze enemies, after which you can run up to them tap the melee button and kill them instantly. It's incredibly satisfying, unfortunately the game doesn't let you take much chance of the more unique weapons of Fracture as not only do they rarely make an appearance, and can be easily missed, but their ammo is in short supply meaning you'll have to stick with the standard assault rifles and shotguns which is a shame.
And that's the biggest issue of Fracture-the game doesn't show off what it does best. The terrain deformation is a great feature, but it's more used in puzzles rather than dramatically impacting combat. The better weapons, like the Rhino and freezer gun, aren't used enough in the game to impact the game much either. The game is repetitive, with a lot of the gunfights feeling very similar unless you as the player add your own interventions into the game by experimenting with the weapons and terrain deformation, which is the game's strongest point. This is especially true when you test drive the game's weapon testing feature, which lets you spawn objects, enemies and weapons by collecting special items in levels which unlock achievements and more features to test out in the editor, making it compelling to find all 100 of the data items.
The more crippling issues of Fracture come with the game's enemy A.I. and the game's difficulty. The enemies of Fracture are flat-out dumb, sometimes standing there with almost no reaction to your gunfire. They unfortunately make up for their stupidity with sheer numbers. On the normal and hard settings, as the screen becomes cramped with gunfire and explosions as well as deformed terrain, the game becomes clustered and you can't tell where the gunfire is coming from. More often than not you'll die and not realise what hit you. There are also a couple of moments where you die from the frustrating enemies that jump around or speed from location to location as you can't get a shot at them. There are even moments where you just die for no reason whatsoever.
The game has a nice multiplayer mode which is unique thanks to the terrain deformation. These levels focus more on the cool weapons and the terrain deformation as some maps are literally miles of dirt for your deformation pleasure. The modes are quite typical with standard deathmatch and team deathmatch as well as capture the flag. There are modes called break-in where you must fight your way to the other team's bunker and excavation where teams must find location on the map, lower the ground enough until a spike in the ground is raised and defend the location from the other team destroying it. These modes might not be original, but Fracture's key strengths are highlighted here which is awesome.
The game is rated 12+ for fantasy violence. There is very little offensive here, because the game has no blood aside from the little green gloop from enemies heads. It doesn't really offend, and there is little mature content to speak of.
Graphically, Fracture looks very nice. The environments are well detailed, with quite a lot of destructible objects and obviously they are quite interactive with the terrain deformation feature. They can be a bit bland at times though thanks to the typical dark colour palette most games use nowadays to seem grittier, though the enemies are quite vibrant in terms of colour with high yellows and greens. Speaking of which, most of the enemies look like they were taken from Dark Sector, especially when you get a headshot on them and gloop squirts out. The cut scenes look a bit bad with some stodgy animation and lip synch, but the frame rate never chops up except when the game auto saves then the game pauses for a brief second.
The sound in Fracture is good. Aside from the lacklustre voice work with the cheesy dialogue, the game has great sound. The orchestral music score, which sounds like something from a George Lucas film like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and it's quite epic when necessary which adds some atmosphere to the action. It could have been used a bit more throughout the game, but when you hear it, it's a pleasure for your ears. The sound effects are pretty decent, with loud gunfire and powerful weapons and explosions, but when you kill the enemy they make a sound effect near identical to the sounds you heard when you were killing Helgast in the PS2 shooter Killzone, and there are some other sound effects that sound stolen from other videogames.
-(The Replay Value)-
Fracture's single player campaign is over quite quickly, especially considering how shorter games are these days. The game will be over in around six or seven hours, which is short to say the least. You will probably replay the campaign at least once, either to find all 100 data collectables or to try your luck on the hardcore setting. Once you're done with the campaign, the great 12 player multiplayer awaits. There are also 50 achievements for your convenience, though I found I unlocked most of them on my first play through. There are achievements for playing through the 3 acts of Fracture, getting a certain number of kills with the game's weapons, completing multiplayer matches and achieving special kills, for example, squashing someone into the ceiling with a spike.
Lucasarts and Day 1 studios have created a very good product that, while not a must buy in the holiday season, is worth a rental. The sad thing about Fracture is the things it does well, like its Terrain deformation and awesome orchestral score are underused whereas elements like the repetitive shooting and frustrating difficulty are placed at the front and shown off more often than the good stuff. And that's where Fracture really shoots itself in the foot, making itself a pretty decent experience like Frontlines: Fuel of War or Lucasarts other recent game The Force Unleashed rather than an excellent experience like Battlefield: Bad Company or Grand Theft Auto IV. So it's not Game of the Year material, but it's far from disappointing.
-(The Extra Info)-
This was published by Lucasarts and developed by Day 1 Studios.
This was released on October 10th, 2008 and is also on the PS3.
This is available from Game.co.uk for £39.99
Summary: An above-average shooter that doesn't show what it does best.
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