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Don't Step on the Cracks

What's the seismic action all about in Fracture's multiplayer modes?

Make your own bridges to get across hazardous areas.
Continuing this week's theme of "third-person shooters that may or may not be ripe for multiplayer" (as examined the other day in Bionic Commando), here's a look at the competitive modes in Fracture. That's the near-future action game from LucasArts and Day 1 Studios that lets you drop seismic bombs that raise, lower, and otherwise mess with the terrain in front of you. I went into the hands-on multiplayer session pretty skeptical because Fracture's unique mechanics seem a little too specific and gimmicky to be useful in a broad range of situations. I haven't had a shot at the game's campaign yet, but I'm not convinced that stuff will even work well there, either.

If anything, Fracture's terrain-fiddling actually seems more suited to a multiplayer environment; it turns out there's a lot of interesting things you can do with those abilities when you're using them to advance team objectives or just kill a lot of people. In every multiplayer mode you start out with three types of grenades: one that raises terrain, one that lowers it, and one that superheats the ground and causes a big fat spike of semi-molten rock to shoot up. The upside to the grenades is, they have splash damage that will hurt anybody nearby when they go off. The downside is that you have to wait a few seconds for the grenade to fly and detonate, so you can't really pull off split-second terrain mods as combat demands.

That's where the Entrencher comes in. It's a rechargeable weapon that can raise and lower the ground just like the grenades, but it does it instantly wherever you aim it. You don't get the damage of the grenades, though, so you can't kill people with it. Two or three discharges will totally deplete its energy, so you can't be spamming craters or hills everywhere, but the Entrencher does open up some interesting moves and strategic options unique to multiplayer. For instance, if a guy is directly under some static geometry, you can launch the ground upwards to crush him underneath it and get an instant kill. One of the team-based maps had rivers of toxic slime running across them, and you can use the Entrencher to make a bridge of rock pop up in the middle of this if you don't feel like running over and hopping on the premade bridge. Raising the ground is obviously useful when you can't reach a higher surface, but you can also double-tap the jump button to automatically raise the ground right underneath you to launch you way up in the air, sort of like a rocket jump.

LucasArts has some games coming out this fall.
Aside from the regular deathmatch mode, LucasArts let me try Excavation, which is a lot like Battlefield's Conquest mode where you have to capture control nodes scattered around the map. The difference here is, the nodes are underground, so you have to excavate them before capturing. (See what they did there?) You do that by digging way down with the Entrencher, then hanging out for a few seconds to make a magma spike shoot up. Then your team gains points from that node until the other team comes along and destroys it by shooting or melee attacking it. After that, the node is up for either team to capture again.

Some of the regular weapons I tried didn't seem to pack much punch, especially the default rifle. But I did like the vortex grenade, which basically turns into a black hole that sucks in everything and everybody nearby and sends them spinning around in a crazy circle. There are a few other interesting weapons, like a tunneling mine launcher that shoots projectiles which burrow under the ground and under some obstacles. On the whole, the weapon array seemed a little hit-and-miss, though.

After a bunch of people have run around the map making mountains and craters everywhere, the map ends up looking pretty messy. Luckily, the terrain deformation seems to interact with the static pieces of the level pretty realistically. For instance, I tried raising and lowering the ground underneath a gigantic concrete slab just to see how this worked, and it would knock the slab around and raise it up on its end in a pretty believable way. You can only deform natural terrain like rock; man-made stuff like concrete or iron grating is static.

Fracture is due on shelves October 7.
29 Comments
Posted by Brad
Make your own bridges to get across hazardous areas.
Continuing this week's theme of "third-person shooters that may or may not be ripe for multiplayer" (as examined the other day in Bionic Commando), here's a look at the competitive modes in Fracture. That's the near-future action game from LucasArts and Day 1 Studios that lets you drop seismic bombs that raise, lower, and otherwise mess with the terrain in front of you. I went into the hands-on multiplayer session pretty skeptical because Fracture's unique mechanics seem a little too specific and gimmicky to be useful in a broad range of situations. I haven't had a shot at the game's campaign yet, but I'm not convinced that stuff will even work well there, either.

If anything, Fracture's terrain-fiddling actually seems more suited to a multiplayer environment; it turns out there's a lot of interesting things you can do with those abilities when you're using them to advance team objectives or just kill a lot of people. In every multiplayer mode you start out with three types of grenades: one that raises terrain, one that lowers it, and one that superheats the ground and causes a big fat spike of semi-molten rock to shoot up. The upside to the grenades is, they have splash damage that will hurt anybody nearby when they go off. The downside is that you have to wait a few seconds for the grenade to fly and detonate, so you can't really pull off split-second terrain mods as combat demands.

That's where the Entrencher comes in. It's a rechargeable weapon that can raise and lower the ground just like the grenades, but it does it instantly wherever you aim it. You don't get the damage of the grenades, though, so you can't kill people with it. Two or three discharges will totally deplete its energy, so you can't be spamming craters or hills everywhere, but the Entrencher does open up some interesting moves and strategic options unique to multiplayer. For instance, if a guy is directly under some static geometry, you can launch the ground upwards to crush him underneath it and get an instant kill. One of the team-based maps had rivers of toxic slime running across them, and you can use the Entrencher to make a bridge of rock pop up in the middle of this if you don't feel like running over and hopping on the premade bridge. Raising the ground is obviously useful when you can't reach a higher surface, but you can also double-tap the jump button to automatically raise the ground right underneath you to launch you way up in the air, sort of like a rocket jump.

LucasArts has some games coming out this fall.
Aside from the regular deathmatch mode, LucasArts let me try Excavation, which is a lot like Battlefield's Conquest mode where you have to capture control nodes scattered around the map. The difference here is, the nodes are underground, so you have to excavate them before capturing. (See what they did there?) You do that by digging way down with the Entrencher, then hanging out for a few seconds to make a magma spike shoot up. Then your team gains points from that node until the other team comes along and destroys it by shooting or melee attacking it. After that, the node is up for either team to capture again.

Some of the regular weapons I tried didn't seem to pack much punch, especially the default rifle. But I did like the vortex grenade, which basically turns into a black hole that sucks in everything and everybody nearby and sends them spinning around in a crazy circle. There are a few other interesting weapons, like a tunneling mine launcher that shoots projectiles which burrow under the ground and under some obstacles. On the whole, the weapon array seemed a little hit-and-miss, though.

After a bunch of people have run around the map making mountains and craters everywhere, the map ends up looking pretty messy. Luckily, the terrain deformation seems to interact with the static pieces of the level pretty realistically. For instance, I tried raising and lowering the ground underneath a gigantic concrete slab just to see how this worked, and it would knock the slab around and raise it up on its end in a pretty believable way. You can only deform natural terrain like rock; man-made stuff like concrete or iron grating is static.

Fracture is due on shelves October 7.
Staff
Posted by RobDaFunk

First

Sounds Interesting, but loads more important games out later in the year!!

Dollars need to be saved!

Posted by mellenman

Sounds.... meh.

Posted by GalvanizedNails

better stuff coming out than this. I will no longer be supporting lucas arts until I get a real KOTOR 3 or Republic Commando 2. Dollar votes!

Posted by Natural20

seems generic

Posted by MasterSplinter

I get the feeling that Fracture will be a mediocre title, built around a lackluster gimmick. Just another game to get lost in the shuffle.

Posted by Vinchenzo

Wow RobDaFunk you got first, nobody cares.

Anyway, game looks mediocre at best. A possible rental.

Posted by Artie

Fracture gets the award for "Most forgettable." Last year's winner was TimeShift.

Posted by Joseppie

This game doesn't strike me as having the legs to be fully worthwhile. Looking rental-worthy as of now.

Posted by rohanspear345

doesnt interest me

Posted by Milkman

The concept seems pretty neat. But I don't know if it will work all that well. And besides, this is definitely the type of game that will just get lost in the slew of releases come the end of the year.

Posted by BigDre

it might be ok.  A demo would probably help people get a sense of it. 

Oh and I thought we've gotten past the point of morons putting 'first' in posts on this site. 

Posted by calf_exercises

sounds interesting but I dont know how well the mechenics will work for the whole game

Posted by Subway

13th

Game doesn't sound too hot, and it looks mad cheesy.

Posted by Shasam

Sounds like an interesting concept, but who knows if it will work well when it's out there for the general population to try. Plus, there's other games coming which already have first dibs on my multiplayer attention.

Posted by Termite

The technology just isn't there yet to support the concept.

It'll be a fairly good game at best I suspect

Posted by giyanks22

I really hope this game turns out good. I love the idea of terrain deformation.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

At least they've got some unique ideas.

Posted by mubress

meh....

Posted by Gamer_152

Yeah, like Brad I'm not very confident that this stuff will really work out in a realistic gameplay situation. It's still an interresting concept though and I'm easger to see the quality of the campaign.

Moderator
Posted by MisterMouse

i hope frachture does good, because it has a lot of potential... lets just see what they do with that

Posted by Hoppondeez420
Posted by MaximusArtimus

remember that one time when I didn't care about this game...oh yeah...it's right now

Posted by Major

I would be excited for it if it was being released in 09
WAY too many amazing games being released at the end of this year

Posted by tommy1
Posted by Paul

I am done with this game, and judging by the number of comments this story has, everyone else is to. 

Posted by Boiglenoight

First I've heard of this game.  Being the non-conformist that must exist in every discussion about anything, I'll have to wait and see before agreeing with everyone that this game sucks.

Posted by JoelTGM

It looks mediocre to me... right off the bat looking at the graphics and animations, you can tell they didn't put much effort into it. 

Posted by Tweak

An Idea that could have been great but seemed pushed and rushed. Just get the feeling the idea/gimmick won't live up to what it could.