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Fracture – Xbox 360, PS3

by Nick Haywood on 30 August 2007, 12:32

Tags: Fracture, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), Xbox 360, PS3, FPS

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Terrain morphing action

Games Convention 2007 Fracture is a new FPS from Lucasarts that extrapolates current world issues, throws them forward several hundred years and then turns the whole lot into a terra-morphing shooter with unscripted, open missions... and it’s an absolute blast to play!

Ok, let’s just give the storyline a quick run through: The United States has been split in two by a massive flood caused by the polar icecaps melting (guess all those big-ass engines the US used weren’t so cool after all, eh?). Anyway, this cuases a schism and the US breaks up into two separate states, East and West. The East, having more in common with us Europeans and our research into cybernetics, allies with Europe to form the Atlantic Alliance. Meanwhile, the West allies with the Asian countries, forming the Republic of Pacifica and these guys are into genetically modifying their citizens to cope with the changing world, something the Atlantic Alliance finds abhorrent.

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One thing leads to another, tensions rise, someone catches someone else looking at their girlfriend, a pint get spilled and before you know it there’s a massive global war as the cybernetic West takes on the genetically modified East is a bloody great war. Which is where you come in...

You play the part of Mason Briggs, a soldier fighting in this global war. Being on the Atlantic Alliance side, you use cybernetics to augment your powers, giving you various, near-superhuman abilities. Of course, these are offset by the genetically modified abilities of your Pacifica enemies.

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But all this is so much sci-fi guff and what really matters is how the game plays and this is where Fracture plays a seriously huge trump card. What I haven’t mentioned so far is the deformable terrain that Lucasarts have used, not just as a gimmick, but as a central tenet of the gameplay.

We’ve seen deformable terrain before and that massively overlooked RTS gem, Maelstrom, used it to some effect in the gameplay but this is the first time an FPS has gone so far as to make terrain deformation a key part of the playing experience.

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You’re equipped with grenades which are based on plate tectonic research. So one type of grenade will raise the surrounding area whilst another with reduce it. So, walk into a firefight with a load of enemies coming at you, you can lob a couple of grenades down to raise the ground ahead, forcing the approaching troops to go around and creating a handy bottleneck/kill-zone.

Now I was sort of impressed by this but when a few stray shots hit my newly created cover, I realised just how cool Fracture’s terrain deformation is as I started to shoot away the ground I’d just raised. In fact, even ground untouched by grenades was eroded by stray fire and explosions from standard grenades left handy craters useful for cover.

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As we approached an enemy fortress I could see a crack in the base wall which, after a few grenades, turned out to be a sub-ground level breach which I’d managed to open up into a passage under the wall. This gave me a sneaky backdoor into the fortress...

Now you might think that you could go on lobbing grenades all day and blast under the foundations of any structure but for gameplay reasons you can’t. There is a finite amount you can go up or down, which makes sense seeing as grenades only really have a localised affect. But parts of Fracture might only be accessible if you raise the ground way beyond what can be achieved with a grenade and here’s where the spike grenade comes in. You lob one of those into the ground and then stand above it... next thing you know you’re on an earth driven elevator straight up, giving you access to unreachable areas or just a different route through the map...

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But you need to be careful though, that dirty great spike is still deformable and a hail of well aimed fire from the opposition crumbled the damn thing away under my feet leaving me to drop the thirty feet back down... but even then, accidentally lobbing a spike grenade in a panic worked out ok as it shot one guy into the air and gave me some handy cover from the others...

Overall, Fracture looks like taking the FPS shooter in a new direction and if Lucasarts can continue the work done so far with the terrain forming and integrate it in such a way as to make it a key part of the gameplay without forcing it upon the player, so you have the choice to use it or not, then Fracture could shape up to be something very cool.

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HEXUS Forums :: 1 Comment

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an enjoyable article :) I look forward to hearing some end-user feedback on this game.
One thing though:
…massive global war as the cybernetic West takes on the genetically modified East is a bloody great war. Which is where you come in…
Shouldn't east and west be the other way about?