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Anthony Capone
15 Jan, 2009

Fracture Review

360 Review | Broken or ground-breaking?
Even before Fracture rolled off the production line late last year, it had accumulated an astonishing amount of hype. Now that the game is on store shelves, we can say it has fallen somewhat foul of its own marketing machine. The third-person shooter is the first title to allow players to partake in ‘terrain deformation’. To put it simply, you can raise or lower the ground at the touch of a button. While this feature is new and innovative, it never reaches its full potential. Coupled with frustrating gameplay and an underdeveloped story, the game has more than its fair share of flaws. Fracture can be entertaining if you enjoy playing shooters, but its shortcomings frequently dampen the experience.

The story in Fracture presents yet another doomsday situation, with the remnants of the United States falling into civil war. As the climate change situation worsens, the folks on the West Coast of America, known in the game as the Pacificans, choose DNA manipulation as a solution to the problem. The East Coast – or the Atlantic Alliance – go in the opposite direction, outlawing genetic experimentation of any kind. Instead, the Atlantic Alliance believe cybernetic technology is the only way to survive the forces of nature. Unsurprisingly, both sides swap words for weapons and go to war. As East Coast soldier Jet Brody, it's up to players to prevent the Pacificans from turning the world into one giant experimental Petri dish.

Fracture's narrative is a mishmash of several interesting ideas, but they are all executed poorly. The plot, while promising so much, delivers so little. Characters aren't fleshed out, conflicts are seldom explained, and in the end, all you can do is scratch your head in utter bewilderment. Not helping matters are the cut-scenes, which look horrible, and are always shot from the worst camera angle.

Meet Jet Brody, and your new terraforming canon.

Meet Jet Brody, and your new terraforming canon.
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Fracture takes place from the third-person perspective, and like other games in the genre, allows players to recharge their health by ducking behind cover. The one feature that differentiates Day 1 Studio's game from other similar titles, however, is its ‘terrain deformation’ mechanic. Jet Brody comes equipped with a portable cannon-like device, which can raise or lower natural earth. On the Xbox 360 controller, players can raise the ground by pressing the right bumper, while lowering the terrain is mapped to the left bumper. This setup makes the deformation process very easy control, and it is massively entertaining watching the ground change at whim. However, while the deformation feature is undoubtedly new, it isn't fully utilised.

Aside from raising or lowering the ground to knock enemies off their feet, there isn't much more you can do with the deformation cannon. A few areas require puzzle-solving, like raising the ground to reach a ledge or lowering the earth to tunnel under a wall. These situations are seldom difficult to wrap your head around though, and sometimes feel like an afterthought. Finally, players can raise a mound of dirt as impromptu cover, but there really aren't enough areas in the game where you unleash your terraforming powers. Nonetheless, the terrain deformation mechanic is fun while it lasts. Credit should also be given to LucasArts for thinking outside the usual third-person action game box. It's just unfortunate that the terrain deformation feature, which has been hyped to kingdom come, never really reaches its full potential.

You can blow enemies out of the earth – literally!

You can blow enemies out of the earth – literally!
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For every ground-breaking feature that Fracture brings to the surface (multiple puns intended), there is something else that is vastly unbalanced or underdeveloped. For example, Fracture packs an absolutely awesome arsenal of guns and grenades. There are grenades that create an unstoppable vortex of wind, ensnaring absolutely everything in their path, along with innovative explosives which ‘tunnel’ under the earth until you detonate them. Conventional firearms, like sniper rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers, also look cool and pack quite a punch. However, the artificial intelligence and frustrating gameplay undermine any fun to be had from the game.

Players will spend the majority of their time in Fracture blasting through waves of foes that are about as intelligent as a pile of bricks. However, the large number of enemy units and amount of damage they can take more than makes up for the lack of collective brainpower. Ordinary drones are usually harder to beat than bosses, making the process of grinding through levels extremely frustrating. Even on lower difficulty settings, you may have to replay the same areas multiple times if you want to triumph over the enemy. Fracture's vehicle sequences are also a headache, as controlling the direction of your ride is somewhat impossible.

Overall, Fracture takes approximately eight hours to complete, depending on the difficulty level. Thankfully, there are plenty of checkpoints littered throughout levels. Even though some areas may have to be replayed over and over, you never usually have to backtrack very far. Finally, as an added incentive, there are plenty of collectibles to find by being creative with the deformation canon.

Halo there!

Halo there!
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Graphically, Fracture is on par with most games in the third-person action genre. Brody is probably the only character that looks unique, as all enemies bare the same set of mass-produced body armour. The animations look great, especially when you shift the ground or throw a vortex grenade. There are some nice weather effects, and the frame-rate is mostly sound. However, level design is somewhat generic, and the colour palette is limited. Audio, nonetheless, is excellent. Sound effects are varied, with each weapon emitting their own unique noise and LucasArts, as always, have included a resounding orchestral score, with solid voice acting to boot.

In terms of multiplayer, Fracture includes all the usual offerings, such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. With the inclusion of the terraforming cannon, it's entertaining to play with a team who can raise or lower the ground. One multiplayer mode that is relatively innovative – and likely to provide some fun – is Excavation. The goal in Excavation is for each team to run to a specific location and raise a spike from the ground. Teams must then defend their own tower of dirt and rubble, while attempting to destroy the other side's spike. Excavation mode is one of Fracture's best features, so long as you can find enough players online.

Fracture is an average third-person shooter. If you can persist past the frustrating and repetitive gameplay, there is some fun to be had with the innovative terrain deformation feature and unique weapons. Multiplayer can be interesting, the sound lives up to LucasArts' excellent audio standards, and the visuals are polished albeit ultimately uninspiring. With more variety and resilient AI, this action game could have reached greater heights. Fracture is worth a look if you can get it at a good price – just don't expect a ground-breaking experience.
The Score
Fracture offers action fans something new, but unfortunately, it suffers from the same problems seen in countless other third-person shooters.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Fracture Content

Fracture Preview
02 Jun, 2008 We put LucasArts' 'ground-breaking' new game to the test.
Fracture on the way from LucasArts
03 May, 2007 Big blokes with guns shooting at each other in the future.
Fracture demo on the way
11 Sep, 2008 To go online next week.
16 Comments
5 years ago
I knew from the very beginning that this game was doomed. I mean, what's so special about raising the ground with some mesh deformation? I already get enough with 3d modeling programs.
And as always, the hype always does the last finishing move.
5 years ago
Gotta agree. It has a lot of potential, but really, really let down by bad decisions. The thing that hurt it the most for me was the terribly bland and often frustrating enemies who seemed more there to eat up time rather than contribute anything worthwhile to the game (looking at you, hopping-around-rocket-launching jerks).

Could've been so much more.
5 years ago
I knew this would be crap. Infamous will be too.

Bionic Commando will be sweet though.
5 years ago
Got bored half way through the demo. Was expecting a score below 7.
5 years ago
ugh the boot wrote
I knew this would be crap. Infamous will be too.
I doubt it. Infamous looks like it will blow this out of the water. Time will tell though...
5 years ago
Ya know I actully thought the demo was pretty fun. Shame to hear about the full game.
5 years ago
ugh the boot wrote
I knew this would be crap. Infamous will be too.
Are you kidding me? inFamous looks sweet as all hell! Cant wait for that game to come rolling around thats for sure (BTW: its nothing like Fracture in case you had never even seen footage of it).
5 years ago
I see this game and Infamous looking just like some stupid gimmick....basically like Crackdown but that was kinda the first of it's kinda so it had some appeal. It's the idea of some superhuman dude let loose in a GTA type city. That's the gimmick! The story and everything else is just an afterthought. It seems pretty clear cut to me. Even if the game does actually end up playing ok it's pretty much guranteed to be a generic, souless affair.

I know a lot of peepz get off on these shallow, sandbox games but my games need to be very heavily character/story driven. Gimmicks and fads just don't work for me anymore. I don't wanna be going on a collecting or killing spree without actually being sold on the world the game has been created in/around. The difference for me is kinda like Mario Galaxy vs Crackdown. Both objective driven type games, both might be real shallow in the mission structures e.g collect X or X amount Y, both very heavily rely on jumping/platforming abilities, both really only have enemies as distractions and very rarely as obstacles, yet i'll play Crackdown for 5 minutes and go "Why the fuck am I wasting my time with this shit" whereas with a Mario Galaxy I could be sitting there for 5 hours with no plans on stopping anytime soon. It's hard to pin point the exact reasons (other than the ones I listed above) for all this but that is one of the best example I can give.

I've seen videos of inFamous, it's actually looks worse than Fracture. The guy looks just like the PsiOps dude or the Star Wars: Force Unleashed guy and oh will you look at that:



It's just the same mother fucker in a different jacket! Psi power, electricity....it's all the same shit as far as these games are concerned. It's just devs going...yea we can move X amount of objects around at once, with X amount of effects, lets just chuck it all in a huge generic melting pot with all this extra crap and maybe we'll fool these gamers into thinking all this commotion ingame actually amounts to gameplay of some sort. Pfft! Gimme a fucking shine to collect any day thankyou.

Check this video out! Damn!! I can't wait to lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt for fucking 8 hours straight!

http://kotaku.com/5127260/the-electrifying-infamous-ces-trailer

It's the first video on the site.
5 years ago
Haha holy shit, I never noticed how they all look identical, thats pretty fucking funny.

Kinda curious on what your take on Prototype is then Ugh?
Same basic concept but it looks like they're going pretty into the story etc.
5 years ago
Yea I left Prototype out for good reason. It's the only one of these sandbox/superhero type games i'm interested in. The fact that you have monsters in this game aswell as all the generic soldier types you get in games like Fracture and Psi-Ops means atleast 50% more variety/interest for me. The game actually wasn't even on my radar untill last week when i saw a screenshot of a dude punching straight through another guy. The brutality and the stance the character took seemed like atleast a little bit of time, research and maybe a little passion was injected into the project.

That's about all I know about the game really. I don't really know if it has a story or not but seeing as how everything in the game doesn't look generic I figure it's got some sort of explanation to tie it all together.

Another thing was the graphics didn't look very polished which to me means the devs are actually concentrating on getting the nitty-gritty right (stuff like physics, hit detection, controls etc) before polishing things like graphics and sound which should always come last imo. Also I guess it kinda helps that the main character looks a little bit like Nomak who was the coolest thing about Blade II. Basically i'm gonna be playing the game like i'm Nomak so even if the story does end up being shit i'll drive it myself.

Again this is all opinion but when all these games come out you can quote me on it all.
5 years ago
i'm interested in Prototype mostly because the devs made The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

well, maybe not "mostly", but it was what initially drew my attention.
5 years ago
^ Didn't know that, it actually injects a bit more faith for me. Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was the last Hulk/Comic game I played. Was that the Xbox one? Not that new one that just came out for the 360 right? I played the original Xbox one.
5 years ago
yeah, the last gen one (was on PS2 and NGC as well as XB1) not the remake that came to the current gen consoles, and "based" on the Edward Norton films (which wasn't done by Radical Entertainment btw).

anyway, Prototype looks like it's a similar premise, but more adult, and more of an evolution on the IH:UD formula, rather than an outright remake/ripoff.
5 years ago
ObsoletE wrote
i'm interested in Prototype mostly because the devs made The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

well, maybe not "mostly", but it was what initially drew my attention.
That was what had it for me, untill I saw him grab a dude smash him on the ground then jump on him and surf across the pavement leaving a trail of shreded skin and blood.

Then that became my new focal point of interest in the game.

On the storyline Ugh, from what I can tell there's a really basic storyline that you get if you just follow the main plot etc, or you can go around the game and collect the little collectables (There people, you eat them and absorb there memory) wich each give you a tiny bit of the puzzel that you then need to put together to figure out what the fuck you are.

They've mentioned that since you're only learning things from that persons perspective, the information they have may not always be 100% factual if they say are a low ranking soldier then there highers up might have lied to them etc.

It looks like a really intersting way to do a storyline and for once actually puts some meaning into getting the collectables instead of just "Hey you get an acheivment" wich honestly has never been enough for me.
5 years ago
Benza wrote
It looks like a really intersting way to do a storyline and for once actually puts some meaning into getting the collectables instead of just "Hey you get an acheivment" wich honestly has never been enough for me.
likewise, but unless it's done right, it could still come across as a dick-move to artificially lengthen the game.

the fact that rank and disinformation is discussed, makes me have a little more faith than simple diaries (although i do like the diary system in some games, like Doom 3, Bioshock, etc, i just think they're becoming a little cliched.)
5 years ago
"Ground-breaking". The pun is killing me. Only a 5.5, eh? While I agree that the game is nothing too special, I still think it's unique enough to at least deserve 6.5, if only for the novel idea of terrain deformation and the smooth way it was executed. I also felt the multiplayer was pretty solid, the way they integrated the terrain deformation was quite good. My main gripe was with how short the game is, and a couple of minor glitches.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  15/10/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2008

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