Fracture Xbox 360, PS3
It’s groundbreaking! Ever since I sat down to write this review I’ve being wondering how I could possible shoehorn that pun in. However, the more I think about it, the more I realise there is no way I can truly describe Fracture as any kind of landmark achievement in the genre. In fact, almost every idea in the game is rather stale, and everything else is more or less a pale imitation of what was seen in its peers.
There is however that terrain deformation gimmick, which is the big selling point. This is supposed to give you the option to alter any part of the environment at your whim. Hypothetically, this will give you the freedom to tackle battles just the way you want, allowing you to make your own cover and get uber-creative with your gunplay. Initially this deformation based gameplay looks kind of cool, and most people should get a bit of a buzz at seeing the ground oscillate at their command at first. However, as you go on you’ll be hit by a huge amount of limitations which end up being dramatically detrimental the the enjoyment of the game. In fact, it kills the fun factor stone dead!
Even though the premise of making your own cover, jumping out from behind it, and taking down an enemy sounds like fun, it turns out not to be. There are many reasons for this, with the drab environments high up on the list of complaints, as almost all battles in the game work around the same premise. For example, you’ll almost always face a bunch of enemies at close quarters and a sniper that sits further away and constantly takes pot shots at you. You then make your cover, take down those closer enemies, and try and work your way up to the sniper by rising and lowering terrain.
If repeating this same technique over and over again does not sound bad enough, then the fact that enemies don’t even react to getting shot, and take almost a whole clip before going down will annoy even more. There are however a few set pieces in the game to break up this monotony, but none really lift the game out of the hole it quite early digs itself into. Basic movement also seems very slow in the game, so even when you’re supposed to running at high speed you’ll feel like you running through molasses.
There is puzzle solving included, but this regretfully grows staler much quicker than the gunplay. It’s nice to throw a grenade into a grate to cause a pillar to shoot up and open the grate, but when you have to constantly repeat puzzles based around this same idea it will ultimately start to, erm, grate on your patience. If you were to compare it to something like Portal, a game which expands on a simple idea the more you play it, then with Fracture you’ll experience the exact opposite, where puzzles revolve use the same idea, but this time you repeat them into absolute tedium. So much so, that by the second or third level you will see the solution to a particular problem coming a mile away, thus taking away any enjoyment you have solving it.
In terms of presentation there is not much to like either, as the game is not too colourful, with everything being a mixture of grey, green or a drab muddy brown. If you were to compare it to something like the upcoming Mirrors Edge, then it is probably the most contrasting game you could get in terms of colour. But even compared to the murky feel of Gears of War, a game which uses similar colours, Fracture still comes of feeling rather uninspired.
Michael Giacchino, an amazing composer who has worked on the likes of Lost, Call of Duty, Medal of Honour, and Fringe (which is the new hotness according to the cool kids), does help make the music something special. However, the epical nature of the compositions just aids in making the generic feel of the rest of the game even more apparent, so it seems the game can’t even score a victory in one of the few areas where it excels.
However, there was one singular part of the game I really liked. So much so that it deserves a whole paragraph to itself. The name of this beauty is the Vortex Grenade, and it is one of the more entertaining weapons seen in a shooter in ages. As you can probably guess by its name the Vortex Grenade is a grenade which causes a vortex to form when thrown. The vortex will then suck up everything nearby before dispersing and tossing everything it has collected away – think of it as the black hole in Geometry Wars, but in full blown 3D. It really is a sight to see, and one of the only “wow” moments the game has.
So, all things considered, and with countless other shooters coming out over the next few months – most of which look to be significantly better in quality – you’d have to very devoted to the genre to even think about putting your money down for this one. The story is bad, the gameplay is shallow, and ultimately that leads to a lacklustre game. It does not even have co-op options, which could have helped its appeal slightly.
That said, it should be noted that the idea of terrain deformation is a good one, and one that deserves to be expanded on, but this time around its implementation is significantly below par in execution. So much so, that I’d be hard-pressed to recommend the game to anyone – even as a rental.