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The world of the future is, yet again, a pretty miserable place. Extreme global warming has changed the face of the continents forever and despite man-kinds use of terrain deformation technology the United States has been split in two, with, predictably, the two sides not getting along at all well.
In a vague introduction sequence we are introduced to the game's protagonist, Jet Brody, who it would appear, is to take on the enemy more or less single handed in order to stop their ungodly plans. Jet is yet another in a long line of over-muscled video game heroes; very much in the style of Marcus Phoenix from Gears of War 360 and Baldur from Too Human 360 - he doesn't get to say much and what lines he does get have him sounding rather bored. The generic character comes as no surprise as the whole game, barring its unique attribute of terrain deformation, brings little new to the party.
But then I gradually realised that I could use my Entrencher to modify the terrain to my advantage.
If you are going to be a one trick pony, why not make it a good one. The in game environment manipulation is actually pretty good fun: initially I found myself sticking to the standard shooter playing style of dashing between items of static cover while taking out the enemy a few at a time. But then I gradually realised that I could use my Entrencher to modify the terrain to my advantage. Coming under heavy fire? A quick press on one of the shoulder buttons will dig you a handy fox-hole or raise the land in front of you to provide much needed cover. While repeated sculpting of the land can soon render it a crater-strewn mess, once you get the hang of it you'll be using it as a matter of course to help you progress. It can be tricky to target at times: on many occasions instead of creating a nice safe mound in front of me I actually create it right underneath me - resulting in my shiny bald head becoming an even easier target for those Pacifican genetic freaks.
Fracture's difficulty level is rather spiky - with numerous easy levels containing few enemies and plenty of offensive weaponry, whereas others require great care to avoide being overwhelmed with incoming grenades, bullets and weird green exploding globs. Relatively poor enemy AI is offset by this sort of occasional overwhelming force, but if you take your time and remember to use all the tools at your disposal you'll manage to soldier through.
There are an interesting array of weapons for you to discover as you progress - from simple machine gun style affairs, to freezers, tunnelling mines and the scarce, but wonderful vortex grenades. Ammo for some of the more exotic variants is however fairly scarce and so you'll generally have to fall back on the bog-standard 'rifle' and 'machine gun' types. I did feel rather disconnected from the weapons though - they didn't quite have that visceral quality that you find in one of the quality 1st person shooters (Fracture being played in 3rd person throughout).
One level that I certainly didn't enjoy was when I took control of a vehicle with a very handy auto-firing turret. I just couldn't get to grips with the controls of the damn thing and, worse, just after acquiring it I was forced to use a narrow ramp to leap over a chasm. I lost count of the times the twitchy controls caused me to hit the sides of the ramp and lurch to a halt, or, after actually getting onto it, finding the vehicles boost running dry and slowing back to a crawl before dropping off the edge into the valley below. Luckily this drop doesn't kill you but you have to drive back to the ramp again to try all over again.
A half decent game with an interesting concept in the form of terrain deformation, but it largely fails to capitalise on this novel tool.
Later on in this level, you have to do the same sort of thing again except that this time you've got a bunch of enemies in your way, and for some reason my auto replenishing shields weren't recharging (the dialogue earlier in the level had probably told me why but at this stage of the game I wasn't really listening to it properly). Throughout this level there is a rather artificial attempt to up the tension by having a shockingly Cortana-like female voice urging you to hurry before the enemy capture/download/kidnap her (as I said, by this time I wasn't really paying much attention). I swear, if the screen had greyed out and I'd slowed to a crawl during these bits I wouldn't have been at all surprised. And the attempt at tension doesn't really work anyway as it's clear that you can in reality take as long as you like.
So Fracture is a half decent game with an interesting concept in the form of terrain deformation, but it largely fails to capitalise on this novel tool. Poor enemy AI makes battles waver between duck-shoots and annoying ambush-spawns, and some poorly placed checkpoints occasionally had me wanting to tear my hair out. However, while I may not be the most demanding of game players, I did actually have a good time while playing (barring the occasional ultra-frustrating section). It's certainly worth a look for fans of this genre - if you can tear yourselves away from Gears of War 2 360, Call of Duty: World at War 360, Far Cry 2 PS3 that is!
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