Fracture (Xbox 360, PS3)

Fracture (Xbox 360, PS3)

Let’s run through a worst case scenario here: imagine that, one hundred years into the future, we’re finding out the hard way that Al Gore was right, and North America is being flooded by polar meltwater. Imagine that the US has been divided into two islands by the rising seas, and that something has probably […]

Let’s run through a worst case scenario here: imagine that, one hundred years into the future, we’re finding out the hard way that Al Gore was right, and North America is being flooded by polar meltwater. Imagine that the US has been divided into two islands by the rising seas, and that something has probably happened to Canada too (but nobody knows for sure because it didn’t make the news). Now imagine that this chillingly kind-of-plausible situation is the backdrop for an uninspired video game. Welcome to Fracture.

Fracture is a third person shooter that has you romping about as Jet Brody, a soldier for the Atlantic Alliance (the eastern states) that has been dispatched to suppress a separatist rebellion welling up in the western states. Apparently the revolting Pacificans, as they’ve been dubbed, have been messing around with DNA in hopes of creating super-humans, but the Alliance doesn’t like it and instead prefers to enhance people cybernetically. The Pacificans are bad dudes and want to secede from the US, so Jet has to go and take them out.

Fracture‘s big hook is terrain deformation. While battling the Pacificans, you’ll always have at your disposal a tool called the entrencher, which can raise or lower the ground as you please—it’s simply a matter of aiming at the ground and pushing a button, at which point a mound or divot will appear. The idea is to use the entrencher to create makeshift cover in firefights and solve environmental puzzles. In reality, though, making cover is rarely really useful, and the puzzles are poorly contrived and are either painfully obvious or frustratingly arcane.

And, really, the terrain deformation doesn’t amount to enough to differentiate the game from other run-of-the-mill shooters. The one gameplay element in Fracture’s favour is a handful of unique weapons, such as one rocket launcher with burrowing projectiles and another gun that rolls massive boulders at unfortunate foes. The imaginative weapons are too rare and specialized to use often, though, so you’ll find yourself forging through the majority of the game’s difficult ten-hour campaign using the requisite chain guns, shotguns, and sniper rifles. The multiplayer element of Fracture provides a better field for putting the special weapons to use, but the online experience is otherwise so much like every other multiplayer shooter you’ve played that it won’t capture anyone’s prolonged interest.

From a technical standpoint, Fracture doesn’t look bad at all—the rain and snow effects are actually some of the better weather facsimiles to grace gaming. The art style, though, borrows so much from past shooters that you might wonder whether some of the characters stepped right out of Mass Effect or Halo. The environments and architecture will similarly elicit dèja vu if they don’t first put you to sleep with their drab appearances. There have been worse-looking games made, but eye candy isn’t Fracture‘s forte.

As a straightforward run-and-gun experience, Fracture does just fine. The biggest issue here is that terrain deformation, the game’s only hope of being different, just isn’t implemented well enough to elevate it above other shooters. If the thought of ten hours of generic and occasionally gimmicky gunplay excites you, go for it, but gamers on the lookout for something special would do well to ignore Fracture.