The year is 2161 and everything has gone to hell. The Midwest is under water thanks to global warming, and the east and west stand divided. The east (called the Atlantic Alliance) is using technology to try to make the world better, while the west (the Republic of Pacifica) is messing with generic modification as a way to try and mold their futures. And you, well you play as Jet Brody, a member of the Atlantic Alliance. As the game opens, you see Jet flying to the Pacifican home base in San Francisco and the president has just outlawed genetic modification. This didn’t settle too well with the Pacifican resistance and General Nathan Sheridan has begun plans on bringing down the Alliance and it is your job to take out this threat.
Thankfully you are not alone in your fight against the evil general. You have a complete arsenal at your disposal. Everything from machine guns to rocket launchers to sniper rifles, but the main attraction of Fracture is the ability to alter the environment. The main way you do this is from a tool called the Entrencher. This allows you to either raise the environment to reach higher ground or provide cover or lower the ground to move under certain obstacles. This is achieved by pressing the left and right bumpers respectively and quickly becomes a quintessential part of the mechanics in the game. The only down side to using this is it can only be used on certain surfaces. Which makes sense, but if you’re thinking that “hey, I’m going to go and sink that building” well you can’t do that. As you play around with the Entrencher you will learn what you can and can’t do with it.
But the Entrencher is not the only thing that can alter the ground around you. You get to hold four different types of grenades. A vortex grenade does exactly as the name implies: it creates a vortex that sucks in anything in its path…even you, so be careful where you throw it and make sure you are far away when it goes off. The next three grenades help shape (or reshape) the battlefield. One explosive will let out a blast and raise the dirt into a hill, another will create a deep crater and the last one will create a spike that comes up form the ground.
All of these can have some really cool effects. Like if you can’t figure out how to get to a high part of the level that you need to get to, and your Entrencher doesn’t work, well let’s try and use a spike grenade. You can either throw near the platform you are trying to get to and just ride up the spike it creates (its not a pointy spike…its got a flat top) or, if there is a broken bridge (one edge is down while the other edge is still holding the bridge up) you can throw the spike grenade under the downed part of the bridge and voila! You just fixed the bridge.
When you first pick up this game and see all the stuff you can do, it’s pretty cool. For me, going into this game, I was optimistic about it because I’m tired of all the future shooters that do nothing different than every other shooter. Well, once you manipulate the environment a few times, it gets kind of old and then Fracture turns into every other shooter…it even has a bald space marine as the main character.
And I don’t mean for it to sound bad, but the action gets too hectic at times and I found myself forgetting about all the stuff my Entrencher and different grenades can do. Most of the time I just end up throwing whatever grenade I have equipped and hoping for the best. There are just way too many enemies that come at you. And when you think you killed them all, ten more arrive. And this may not affect you, but I am a twitch gamer and when 20 enemies come charging at me all at once, I just head for cover and defend my ground. So why don’t you use the Entrencher to make cover, you ask? Well, I did but learned not to. The cover you make by raising the ground can be shot until the hill is no more.
What makes this shooter better is the online multiplayer. This game was designed for online action. There are eight maps that you can play eight different modes on and it supports up to twelve players. Naturally, the common modes are here (King of the Hill, Capture the Flag). But then there is a mode that uses the terrain altering as an objective. In Excavation, you’ll need to run to one of several locations on the map, lower the ground, raise one of your team’s basalts, and choose to defend the spot or move on. You will need to tear down your opponents towers, but they will be doing the same to yours while points are being racked up across the map.
Another interesting little feature is the weapon tester stage. Basically you get to test out every weapon you unlock. So if you want to try and master a certain gun, just head on over to the tester stage. But you are not limited to the gun you want to improve your skills on. Every weapon you have unlocked will be there. And if you haven’t unlocked a certain gun, if you hover over where it will be when it is unlocked, the game will tell you what you need to do to unlock it.
Graphically, this is not the best looking title this generation. The game is plagued by frame rate issues and the game’s environments tend to blend together after a few levels. The cut scenes are also disappointing due to some poor encoding making them feel fuzzy and out of place. There is a savior in all of this mess though; the explosions. Every explosion in the game carries a punch both visually and audio wise making it that much more fun to destroy anything and everything in your path.
When all is said and done, Fracture tries to be more than every other shooter and at first it succeeds. Unfortunately after drilling through the game the hectic action and abundance of enemies causes you to forget what separates it from the rest of the herd and it quickly becomes what it is trying to avoid. With action getting too hectic and same old boring environments and objectives, this game will get lost with among titles like Gears of War 2 and Resistance 2. The only saving grace for Fracture is the multiplayer. But this game is not worth $60 just for that when you already own either COD 4 or Halo 3.