|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Day 1 Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (12 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
and I Can't Get Up!
by Jonathan Marx
Playing second fiddle to The Force Unleashed, LucasArts' Fracture is a third-person shooter that features terrain deformation as its pièce de résistance. Unfortunately, this key feature feels more cumbersome than fun, and what's left is a shallow shooter with a single-player campaign that can be finished in less than ten hours. On the bright side, the multiplayer is an engaging experience, but the inordinately large and regenerating health meter does its best to foil that experience too. In the end, Fracture, with its unique battle mechanic, is little more than a good idea gone bad.
The setting of Fracture takes place in the 22nd century. The world has undergone massive changes due to global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. As such, the United States finds itself less than united because a great rift runs from what were once the Great Lakes south to the Gulf of Mexico. The heartland of the U.S. is a giant wasteland, and the country begins to divide itself politically and morally along these new geographic lines.
The East Coast, or Atlantic Alliance, aligns itself with Europe, emphasizes the use of cybernetic and terra-forming technology, and eschews the recent trends toward genetic enhancement and artificial evolution. In fact, laws are passed in Washington D.C. prohibiting genetic alterations among humans in an attempt to preserve the human race. This law serves as the final blow for the people of the West Coast, known as the Republic of Pacifica, who have come to rely on genetic mutations to cope with the changing world. The Pacificans secede from the Union, and the Atlantic Alliance is forced to quell the upstarts in to save the world and maintain the human race. Of course, such a difficult task is going to take the right man and the right tools for the job. Enter Jet Brody: patriot, gunslinger, and terra-forming badass.
As Brody, players will need to make use of their ability to raise and lower terrain to transform the battlefield to their advantage and surmount the myriad obstacles in their path. Players can also use a variety of grenades to help them with this task. While initially interesting, the ability to change the battlefield around you is rather awkward; it takes a very long time before use of the game's Entrencher becomes second nature. Don't get me wrong; there are some nice occasions when you'll launch Pacificans into the air by raising some dirt and then fill them full of lead before they touch the ground. And I loved being able to instantly create cover from enemy fire. But, for the most part, terra-forming abilities are used to solve simplistic puzzles rather than true tools of combat. You can imagine how troublesome this is for a game that wholly relies on the concept to distinguish itself.
In addition to the Entrencher, there are a number of interesting weapons to take advantage of in Fracture. They include futuristic versions of machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and sniper rifles. There are a few others that are fairly unique. For example, there is a sticky-grenade launcher with timed detonation, and the burrowing-torpedo launcher was also novel. Unfortunately, these weapons are more or less useless, and players will find themselves relying on the stupid Bulldog machinegun, as it is the most all-purpose weapon in your arsenal. I say stupid because you'll constantly blow through clips. You'd think they find a way to expand magazine size in the 22nd century!
Moreover, combat in Fracture is extremely frenetic, but not in a good way. You will constantly be bombarded with grenades and explosive elements in the environment that make the shooter experience very cluttered. Enemies are not tactically savvy, but rather omnipresent; they constantly thwart your advance with sheer numbers. And the camera angles garbage! It is often extremely trying to get a clear shot without a wall or mound covering your view. When all is clear, knowing what you're shooting at can be difficult. That's because sometimes you're very far away from your targets, and they tend to blend into the surrounding environment and cacophonous onscreen action. Combat in Fracture is a complete mess. Instead of using gaming skill, players will just have to rely on their huge, regenerating health meter and a lot of ammo to get them through the firefights.