Fracture isn't a bad game, but it certainly isn't that good.
In the vast library of next-gen games, Bioshock is the equivalent of Shakespeare, Resistance is Michael Crichton, and Fracture is some trashy action book on the Clearance rack. It's not well written, it's not nuanced, but it does provide some decent thrills despite its flaws. That said, you wouldn't buy a mediocre book at full price and you shouldn't pay full price for Fracture, either. This is most definately a rental.
Fracture's story concerns tough ethical issues such a stem cell research and global warming, as well as more personal issues like the deaths of family members. While it seems that any two bit author could make at least a good story out of these base elements, Fracture lays the groundwork for greatness and leaves it at that. It's as if the game's writers came up with an intruiging concept at the beginning of the development cycle and then instantly forgot about it. While this lack of story is disappointing, it's anything but unexpected. After all, you know you shouldn't expect much of a story from a game whose protagonist is named Jet Brody.
Since Fracture's story is almost instantly abandoned, it's up to the action to get the message across. While the action is quite solid, it's uninspiring when compared to, say, Uncharted. One of the main features that keeps Fracture from being utter trash is the terrain deformation that is unique to the Fracture universe. Using the L1 and R1 buttons, it is possible to lower or raise land, respectively. While raising and lowering land seems to have little to nothing to do with shooting (seriously, who came up with that idea?), it actually works pretty well. If you ever need cover from enemy fire, simply raise the land in a circle around you and lower it under your feet, creating a makeshift trench. The technology behind TD is impressive, but other than creating cover it is pretty much nonexistant in firefights. TD is mostly used in puzzles that feel extremely forced. It's as if the developers realized after their project had been greenlighted that raising and lowering land has very few practical uses in any game other than Viva Pinata. Want an example of these painful "puzzles"? No? Well I'll go over one anyway:
In one "puzzle" early on in the game, you need to restore power to a lift (on a side note, have you ever played a futuristic shooter that didn't at some point require you to restore power to a lift?). Shortly after getting your objective, you come across a giant power cord that has been broken in half. The first half is still standing, while the second half is splayed across the ground. You must...raise the land under the second half until it touches the first half, which magically repairs the wire and restores power!
Yeah, so if I haven't somehow established this already, Fracture is stupid. Dirt stupid (no pun intended.) The core mechanic has little to do with the actual action, as it has only one practical application during combat. What, then, resues Fracture from the slick precipice of mediocrity? To put it bluntly, Fracture rips off so much from Halo 3 that Halo is likely to die bleeding. And while this makes Fracture feel a bit derivative, it also gives it an immediate feeling of familiarity, like you are instantly thrust into your comfort zone when playing. The controls are mapped sensibly (read: the same as Halo's,) the shield recharge works perfectly (like Halo's,) and Jet jumps nice and high (like Master Chief.) Day 1 Studios could not possibly screw this game up too badly, because on a certain level, it's just a worse version of Halo 3.
Another feature that contributes to Fracture's success is its unique array of weaponry. While the standard shotgun, assault rifle, sniper, and rocker launcher are accounted for and work as well as you'd hope, Jet also has access to an array of Ratchet & Clank-esque weapons, such as a black hole grenade and a torpedo that burrows underground. These weapons are the highlight of the game, and feel more than a little bad@$$.
Fracture also sports some pretty decent graphics and sound work. Character models look quite nice. They really deserve to be in an all around better looking game, though, because the environments can feel pretty boring at times. Towards the end of the game you move from the Midwest to Washinton DC, and the scenery change brings with it cold weather. The snow effects in DC are a surprising high point to the otherwise mediorce environments. The sound work isn't necessarily bad, but it feels like it should belong in a different game. Specifically, a Star Wars game. So although the music is pretty good, it still feels out of place. Voiceovers are largely phoned in, especially with Jet. He sounds like...well, he sounds like a guy named Jet should sound; clueless and possibly inbred. That's right George Lucas, I said it.
If you're thinking of playing multiplayer in Fracture, think again. While I can certainly see the game being fun with a full room, right now games are anything but. The largest online game I've played consisted of three people. It sucked. This is really unfortunate, because judging from multiplayer videos online and the small online games I've played in, the versus modes are the best part of Fracture. Too bad nobody is playing in them now, and I don't anticipate seeing many more people online.
Overall, I am not terribly disappointed with Fracture. If you, like me, laughed out loud when you initially read about this game, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised. No, Fracture is not total garbage. It's not a boring game. It can actually get pretty intense. Fracture's problem is that it is not an ambitious game, and it has no problem flaunting this fact. It makes for a decent weekend of gaming, but not much more. When all is said and done, I'll play this for three or four days and then trade it in.
As a side note, if you're a shooter fan still considering buying Fracture, stop for a moment and think:
Do you own the following games already?
-Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
-Battlefield: Bad Company
-Resistance Fall of Man
-Metal Gear Solid 4
-Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction/Quest for Booty
-Rainbow Six Vegas/2
If your answer is no to any of those, screw Fracture and buy the game you're missing. Any one of them will provide a more enjoyable experience. If you have played all of those games and hunger for something more, Fracture is a worthy rental.
Graphics: 7.5/10: Nice character models, TD effects, and snow effects. Icky everything else.
Sound: 6.75/10: Not really bad, but it sounds out of place.
Gameplay: 8/10: Inside of the concept meeting at Day 1 Studios:
- "What do you say we copy and paste Halo 3's code, and throw in some crazy gimmick?"
- "Great! We can make it in third person, so the rip-off isn't immediately apparent!"
- "It's perfect!"
Entertainment: 7/10: Certainly not a bad game. Fracture will provide you with a decent 7-8 hours of fairly challenging gameplay.