Been there done that. Oh look, a hole.
It’s 22 Century , and the country has been divided into two factions, the western half, known as the Pacificans, and the East Coast, known as the Atlantic Alliance. What’s the reason for the split? Global warming. To deal with the rapidly changing climate, the Pacificans decided that they would start to genetically enhance their citizens by altering their DNA, whilst the Atlantic Alliance opted for cybernetic enhancements instead. The Atlantic Alliance then decide that genetic enhancement should be banned and the Pacificans don’t particularly like the decision and threaten to take over the world (as you do.) The Atlantic Alliance figures that, being a part of the world, they too would get taken over and so they declare war. You play as Jet Brody, an soldier who is given the unenviable task of apprehending the Pacifican general thus stopping the impending global domination. It all sounds like an exciting blockbuster of a game, but sadly the game is essentially a frustratingly average experience that will be quickly forgotten.
As with all the great shooters of the current generation, Fracture has its own unique selling point that supposedly differentiates itself from all other shooting games. This is given to the player in the form of altering the surrounding terrain. By using a special built in weapon, the player is able to form mounds of earth or pits in a split second wherever there is soil to aim at. This feature, although sounding very helpful and innovative is sadly rarely used outside of forming cover or solving mind-numbingly easy puzzles. This is a shame as it seems as though as a shooting game, altering the very thing you are fighting on sounds incredibly helpful, the game doesn’t present enough opportunities for its potential to ever be reached other than a quick cover option. There is the odd chance that you will be able to form a hole under the enemies’ feet and throw a grenade into the newly formed pit to accompany them, but the action is so fast that it is far easier to just shoot them instead. The puzzles included aren’t really puzzles as much as I’ll just make a hole/hill where/when the computer tells me too and continue onwards.
The rest of the game is your run-of-the-mill shooter, you run through linear levels obliterating streams of enemies that all look incredibly similar with assault rifles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and grenades before taking cover somewhere to re-generate your health after a small amount of time. Whilst this experience isn’t badly done, it’s not well done either. The environments and enemies look fairly bland and the graphics aren’t anything to swoon over, yet they aren’t so horribly bland that you want to attack your eyes with a rusty spoon. The soundtrack is decent with a few noteworthy songs (including a nice main theme) and at the same time, its just kind of there, not really creditable enough to change the game into something great. In fact, the more you play Fracture, the more you will realise that the entire game is like this. Almost every aspect just falls neatly into line without doing anything exceptional or head-turning, whilst never doing anything awful enough to turn people away. Although some satisfaction does come with whenever you manage to score a headshot, the unfortunate enemy’s skull explodes in a vibrant gush of yellow that at the very least warrants a slight smirk the first couple of times.
Adding to this problem is the downright frustrating difficulty levels. Players can feel swamped by enemies that all seem to be able to hit you with every bullet. Attempting to terra-form cover with your handy abilities adds to the problem more often than not as it makes it impossible to locate the enemies before they have succeeded in unloading half their gun into you. Players can also find themselves repeating the same checkpoint over and over again which when coupled with the already average gameplay, can result in a less than desirable experience. The only real variety comes in the form of collectable data chips which take some creativity in locating but unfortunately all they really serve to do (other than to give the player something else to try and achieve) is unlock weapon ranges which are essentially worthless to the overall game.
Much like the game’s single player mode, Fracture is painfully average when it comes to multiplayer as it offers up the usual Deathmatch, Capture the flag and King of the Hill as well as their team based alternatives, but again, like rest of the game, it is sadly nothing that haven’t seen / played before in a shooting game. The only real difference from other games is the Excavation mode, in which teams will dig deep into the ground before raising a giant spike which much then be defended. Your team must destroy the other teams’ spike but not leave your own unguarded. This does as least offer something different from the rest of the game’s rather bland modes.
Technically speaking, Fracture rarely has any glitch issues and the frame rate only ever hitches when the game is saving. This is a fairly impressive feat considering the amount of bullets and explosions that are flying around the screen at any given time. The level textures do seem to become slightly less sharp towards the end of the game but it’s barely noticeable unless you really look hard at it. During one of the later levels of the game, there is a large amount of snow falling and to be fair, it looks very impressive and is one of the things that Fracture actually does really well.
In all honesty, Fracture is a game of missed opportunities. Had it been released a couple of years earlier then it would definitely have been one of the best shooters at the time, but having it come out towards the back end of 2008, means that it offers people nothing that we haven’t seen before apart from the terrain-altering ability, which unfortunately missed out on being a game-defining addition by being vastly underutilized. The derivate gameplay and graphics, coupled with the exasperating difficulty ultimately condemn this game to a rental at best. With games like Gears of War 2 and Far Cry 2 just around the corner, you will be hard pressed to find a reason to add Fracture to your collection.