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developer: Day 1 Studios
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 07, 08
|» All About Fracture on ActionTrip|
Games come and go. Most of them are nothing but fleeting moments of entertainment - something to you can do to help pass the time until that "special" title arrives. You know the one you've been longing to play after months and months of trailers, teasers, in-game snapshots and boring press releases. Classic GotY material, really. Experiences like that a rare these days. The industry is teeming with generic shooters that target all audiences, not the least of which are casual gamers.
LucasArts is one of the most reputable publishers around. And yet for some reason, they continue to disappoint as of late. Most of their recent releases received average reviews of 70 at best. Fracture, the company's latest third-person shooter, comes packed with a few neat twists, which we expected would adequately spice up the gameplay. In Fracture, you are allowed to alter the shape of the terrain to help you overcome enemies. As cool as that sounds, there are other aspects of the game that were put into the spotlight of pessimism even before its release.
If you're looking for a decent story-driven experience, you're pretty much in the wrong place with Fracture. The world has been severely affected by global warming and mankind increases its efforts to battle this disconcerting phenomenon. In the process, the United States got divided. On one side, you have the Atlantic Alliance in the east, who specialize in creating cybernetic solutions in order to solve the world's problems. Opposing them is the Republic of Pacifica (and the western Pacific Rim allies). Each faction is equipped with tectonic weapons, utilized to adapt and change the terrain. You play as Jef Brody, a tough soldier assigned to take out General Nathan Sheridan.
Predictable, weak and deeply unappealing are the terms I'll use to describe the plot. The world you are thrown is quite simply tedious. Fracture lacks a more immersive setting to appeal to gamers and it definitely doesn't have the cinematic atmosphere we normally get from playing today's first-rate releases. True enough; gaudy visual effects and a cinematic ambience don't necessarily make a good game. However, art direction and an original universe are still very important factors for any single-player experience. Fracture's art and overall design rely too much on industry stereotypes, practically bringing every single game ever released to mind - from Mass Effect and Gears of War, to Halo and Half-Life 2. Design wise, the game takes a headfirst plunge into the abyss of corniness.
Terrain deformation is obviously the key gameplay ingredient and you'll spend nearly 90% of the time elevating and lowering the ground that lies before you. This often proves to be a great tactical advantage in combat, especially when you're pinned down and facing heavy fire from an enemy turret. All you need to do is entrench your character or surround him with mounds to provide cover. It's the easiest thing to do too. You'll be an expert in terrain deformation in no time. The intuitivness and easy-to-learn spirit lose their appeal after less than a couple of hours of playing. Nearly everything in this game can be labeled as repetitive, from environments and level design, to enemies and combat in general. Combining your average marine arsenal with tectonic weaponry is all fine, but it turns into a routine very fast. By the way, your choice of Unreal-style weapons includes futuristic, alternate versions of assault rifles, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, snipers, etc. Grenades (Tectonic, Subsonic, Spike and Vortex) allow for some cool effects and can also deform the terrain beneath your feet. Vortex grenades are rare, but can be extremely fun to use.
Similarly to its design, the gameplay in Fracture also descends into the waters of mediocrity, along with games like, say, TimeShift and The Club. Similar half-assed products offer a shallow and rather humdrum experience at best and Fracture falls into that particular category.
Enjoyable multiplayer, a few cool weapons to toy around with;
Run-of-the-mill gameplay, it's a carbon copy of most top shooters, crappy story and unoriginal design and art direction.