PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Review By Steve Farrelly @ 03:53pm 22/10/08
They clearly have, especially after the resounding success of the latest Star Wars opus, The Force Unleashed. And the idea (apart from traditional Lucas properties Star Wars and Indy) they will no longer be looking at old franchises, focusing instead on new IP, means the old warhorse is still ready to dish it out.
It's a shame then, beyond the awesome Force Unleashed, the first of these "new IPs" is Fracture. It doesn't paint a clear picture of foresight and understanding for LucasArts and even point out, perhaps, that they just don't really know how to branch beyond their core stable.
The two sides, Pacifican and Atlantic Alliance then took different evolutionary paths; the Pacificans deciding to focus on DNA augmentation, while the Atlantic Alliance preferred to develop cybernetics obviously leading to war between each side.
(Actually – this is from the game's manual, because it's so funny: "The Atlantic Alliance chose another path. Instead, they developed cybernetics to protect Americans from extinction." Why, oh why the rest of world appears to not exist in the year 2161 is seriously beyond me, but I digress.)
Fracture's most touted feature is the terrain deformation technology. It's the default weapon you have throughout the game. You can raise or lower any organic ground (so obviously not buildings, concrete or the like), which is then used to both create cover situations as well as solve fairly simple puzzles.
Beyond the default raise and lower functions, you'll also expand to be able to erect spikes (which can then be used to raise bridges, walkways or break through barricades etc), cause massive sink holes and even create a huge debris-riddled vortex that will suck in all nearby enemies and then spit them out like so much chewed bubble-gum. In fact, one of the best factors here comes in the form of the various weapons and grenades. Unfortunately, enemy design and AI alongside some questionable level-design, terrible pacing and an overall lack of desirable outcome (in that you want really care what's around the next corner or beyond your mission's completion), leave the one cool element of the game utterly lost.
What's equally annoying about this is it clearly means the team really have no idea what it is gamers want today. I know I can't clearly speak for the entire gaming community, but when you look at the landscape of stellar, stand-out titles and compare them to what Fracture is trying to offer, it's like the difference between being given the choice of living in a dank, wet cave or a modern Cribs-style mansion; Fracture offering the former (clearly).
Mission structure for the single-player campaign is made up largely of on-the-fly objectives, which does give a sensation of skirmish. But you never really care about the progression. Your enemies are faceless, repetitive clones, who have their aiming parameters turned all the way up to 11, while your own team-mate AI seems more like aesthetic background noise and animation – something in place to add to the sensation of war.
I've had a few rounds with this, and can honestly say I think it's far better than the single-player game, but again is riddled with issues. For one, map design just seems too scattered, and not overly conducive to being given weapons that change the environment. There's plenty of other cover to use, and the odd shapes produced when you do terrain deform just aren't the sort of places I'd hide on a battlefield in the first place (they look more like moguls on a skier riddles snowfield anyway).
The only really unique mode on offer too (given the touted tech), is called Excavation where you head to marked locations on the map, dig down until you see a glowing light and watch as a spike erects. Protect the spike and earn points this way (spikes can be destroyed by weapon fire). Again though, it's just not a robust or creative enough use of what LucasArts are using as their main draw here. Unfortunately, though better, like the single-player game, Fracture multiplayer offers nothing compelling to stick around, especially when there are so many better options available currently.
The end result is an uninspired, out-of-touch archaic product that fails to inspire, let-alone compel. I wouldn't even recommend a hiring of this game, unless you're in it for a laugh, and even then it gets over-bearing because of the serious nature of it all. I think the only thing Fracture will be remembered for is our protagonist's name. Long live Jet Brody.