The first thing I noticed about Fracture, before I even took it out of the box, was the fact that it was just called “Fracture”, and not “Fracture 2”, “Fracture 3” or “Fracture 5 XL”. Finding a shooter these days that isn’t a sequel, prequel or follow-up is frankly surprising, and a rare treat.

The storyline behind Fracture is that global warming has happened in a big way, leading to seas rising, and American experts coming up with amazing terrain deforming tools to shore up their shorelines and save them all from drowning. For some reason not well explained in the game, they forgot to do the middle of the country, and ended up with two separate land masses made up of each coast. So, like a classic hip-hop battle, the stage is set for West Coast vs East Coast. The West Coast have gone a bit mental with genetic engineering, so laws are passed to stop this. They don’t like this much, form their own country, and the rap battle war is on.

You play a soldier fighting for the Atlantic Alliance against the Pacificans, who is (hilariously) called Jet Brody. Stupid name, but even stupider is that for the entire duration of the single player campaign, I thought he was called Jeff, which is an equally odd name for a strapping hero.

We’ve got a hero, we’ve got a genetically engineered army of freaks to fight, so we’re on to the final element in any third person shooter: The Guns. Fracture’s main character carries a gun called an Entrencher, which allows him to raise and lower the ground into great hills and craters. At first, this is mostly just used to make a hill to walk up to collect a weapon, but later it is used to solve puzzles and even splatter enemies who are unfortunate enough to be standing underneath something when the ground rockets up and meets the roof. Ouch.

It also has a good selection of other weapons – apart from underground homing mole-mines, a rocket launcher that bounces shots off of walls, and a sort of cluster-and-remote detonate grenade launcher. This game also features another fantastic weapon: the Vortex Grenade (or Sucky Sucky Ten Dollah Grenade as I called it). This portable weapon of mass destruction is pretty rare in the game, I don’t think I found more than ten of them as I played it from start to finish. When you do happen across one, though, it definitely puts a smile on your face. When you throw it towards your enemies, it sucks out a huge crater in the ground, and generates a powerful tornado in the middle of the crater, crushing and pulling in everything around it – enemies, crates, rocks, weapons and even – if you’re not careful – you. Tremendous fun.

Having played the demo of this before I was asked to review the full game, I was not expecting to think too much of this. The demo showed off a game that had some interesting ideas, but didn’t really do enough with them to draw me in. Having played a bit further into the game (the demo was the tutorial section of the full game) I actually found myself enjoying this far more than I would have thought I would. The levels look nicer and more varied later in the game, there are some impressive moments of action, and your character gets enhancements, interesting weapons and extra skills all not present at the start of the game. Most useful of these is a sort of extra-high jump, where as your character leaps into the air, he fires his terrain gun into the ground, raising a hill and propelling him to new heights. This got me out of trouble on a huge number of occasions and was also great fun, as Jet lived up to his name and sailed through the air to safety.

Mostly, though, it was a solid shooter and the terrain deformation added an interesting touch to a very well-worn genre of game, and I enjoyed it.

There are even a couple of driving sections with a special buggy equipped with guns and a Channel Tunnel-style grinder to enable you to grind your way up steep hills and under obstacles. I would describe the method used to drive the buggy as stupid and pointless (left stick to accelerate, right stick to steer) – if it wasn’t pretty much the exact same control system used for vehicles in the much lauded Halo 3.

I found the game a little frustrating at times, particularly the boss battles, and a few sections where I felt checkpoints should have been closer together. Remembering that you are holding a piece of hardware that can raise up cover from any bare ground makes it a lot easier at times, though! Also, it’s not an ugly game but there are far nicer looking out there, and that seems indicative of this game. The story is OK, but there are better available. The level design is fine, but there are others out there with better… etc.

The way I think of it is like this. No doubt when you were at school there was at least one kid who was great at art, and painted or drew some pictures which were brilliant. Hang them up in the Louvre, though, among the Van Goghs, Picassos and Constables and they no longer look as impressive. Fracture is a good shooter, but with the phenomenal standard of the competition these days it really just needed to be a bit better. When the post-Christmas lull kicks in, this could be a good, different game to get to tide you over until Call Of Gears Of Fall Of Man XVII comes out…







2 responses to “Fracture”

  1. Jeff Brody avatar
    Jeff Brody

    How dare you take the mick out of name? You shall be hearing from my lawyers.

  2. danskin9962 avatar

    I think I might download the demo, I’m still not 100% sure.

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