Lucasarts took a big risk when they decided that for Fracture, they were going to base the game around a technological advancement that allows the player to raise and lower the ground using a ‘tectonics’ gun.
This is risky because if the technology feels gimmicky, the game could fail. We got a review copy in to find out for ourselves and see if the risk was worth it.
Find out what we think, after the jump.
America is in turmoil!
Fracture is a third person shooter that takes place in the future. After a whole bunch of natural disasters the entire nation has been separated between two factions, one that is all for cybernetics and the other which believes in genetic mutation and enhancements.
The idea for the story is actually pretty cool.
The game makes a good first impression, the graphics are great and the sound isn’t bad either. The tutorial levels were simple enough and everything was running along just fine and the game was proving to be quite a lot of fun.
But then, some issues started to arise.
Haven’t I Been Here Before?
Firstly, why does my character look like the love-child of John Sheppard from Mass Effect and Buldar from Too Human? In other words, generic shaven-head marine man.
Secondly, I could have just sworn that I was dropped off in one of the dropships from Halo. In a matter of minutes, I realised that I wasn’t playing Fracture, I was playing a game that should have been called “That Sci-Fi shooter game”. Seriously, they basically even have the Major from Halo in this game as well.
^above: Hey, what did you do with Master Chief?
Okay, so what if the game feels like I am playing the Mass Halo Human from Mars. Maybe the gameplay will make up for it.
The game makes good use of it’s terrain deforming technology, including a really cool remote detonated rocket that burrows underneath the ground and more importantly, cover, allowing you to blow enemies to kingdom come.
But again, I let an hour or so pass and issues started popping up. While the game is technically sound, it seems that the big let down in Fracture comes from the minds of the developers themselves. I can’t put it any clearer than to say that I really just don’t think that they thought this game through before making it.
I am starting to think that someone in Lucasarts walked into the lunch room and said, “Hey guys, I managed to get our engine to deform terrain!”.
“Cool”, said the guy at the watercooler, “We should like, totally make a whole game about that.”. “Oh definitely”, said the excited programmer, “We could, like, totally make it like Halo, Mass Effect or that movie with aliens in it, people like that sort of thing, right?”.
And so, Fracture was born. Lacking inspiration and any sort of real plan for a game except that the ground would be able to move up and down. My real frustrations started to come out around two hours into the game when the design flaws and balancing issues became all too apparent. Let me tell you why.
I consider myself a fairly ‘Hardcore’ gamer. In other words, I play a lot of games and I am pretty decent at most of them. When it comes to reviews, I usually play a game on medium as I don’t want the game to be too easy or too difficult as it could affect my impressions on the game.
This left me wondering 2 hours in why on earth I had nine bazillion enemies firing at me from every angle possible, leaving me with no choice but to jump around like a crazed hamster on nine different illegal drugs.
I have a HUD-Ache
I would try and take the enemies on but there was one little problem with that idea. I couldn’t see them. Why couldn’t I see them, you might ask? Was it because they were in cover, did they have stealth suits or was it a glitch? The Answer is, D: None of the above.
The problem is simply the Heads-Up display (HUD). The HUD is so cluttered that you are left feeling like you are wearing a a pair of paintball goggles with a paint splat right in the middle of your vision.
The developers then saw it fit to not actually have any mission information in the corner of the screen, nope, they wanted to put it more towards center. Then, whilst in the middle of the battle, with dead enemies everywhere, you run through an area that has a lot of weapon pickups on the grounds. The note that you can press a button to pick up the weapon pops up on the screen, but its not on the bottom of the screen, nope its in the center, somewhere between your crosshair and the edge.
^ above: Afraid that it would be eaten by the edges of the TV, the HUD chose to move closer to the center of the screen.
All this wouldn’t be too much of a problem because none of those really get in the way of what you are actually aiming at, assuming that you find something to shoot at. Then you begin to realise that it feels like there is something between you and the enemy that you can’t see around, and there is. It’s your character and that little thing called the crosshair.
The crosshair itself gets in the way of your view, making you feel like you are always trying to look around something. Now you remember that you have a device that lets you raise and lower the ground. This device can not be used infinitely and needs to have a cool-down period if you use it too much. You want to guess where the developers decided to put it’s usage bar. That’s correct, it is actually apart of your crosshair, off to the right, making it even harder to see and to make matters worse, when you are being shot at red indicators come up around your crosshair to show the direction, making your view even worse.
The screenshots really don’t do justice to how annoying the HUD can actually become.
Ah canna du it cap’n , I duun’t have the puwer.
The truth is this and you can hold it against me as a reviewer if you like but I think it makes enough of a statement as it is. I did not play Fracture any longer than around two and a half hours. As a reviewer I prefer to finish games before I review them but for the life of me I couldn’t bring myself to continue without risking having my controller becoming firmly planted in the center of my TV. I like my TV, so I chose the latter.
Some may find the game fun and interesting, I found it to be a frustrating and gimmicky experience with no inspiration and terrible design flaws. With the game being released so close to such a massive line-up of high quality summer titles it was destined to fail.
Gameplay: 5/10 [Frustrating controls and gimmicky gameplay]
Presentation: 6/10 [ A good looking game but the worst HUD I have ever seen]
Sound: 7/10 [By no means bad, but Nothing Special]
Value: 5/10 [ If anyone actually keeps this game, you may have some fun with the multiplayer]
Overall: 6/10 [A failure from the moment of it’s conception, some may still enjoy what it has to offer]
Last Updated: October 20, 2008