Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Review: Fracture

I have been really excited about the release of Fracture for some time and it by no means disappoints my expectations. Fracture is a pretty ordinary sci-fi third person shooter but with a twist. Almost all the terrain is deformable in real time! This alone is impressive but the true greatness in Fracture is the execution of this feature and the integration into the shooter based game play. 

Now, if you have never heard of Fracture you will probably want to know what terrain deformation actually is. In short it means there are a number of ways including grenades and special weaponry to raise, lower or otherwise morph the land you are standing on in real time. However this description won’t really show you how this feels in game. For this I recommend you try out the free demo currently downloadable from Xbox Live. 

Fracture makes heavy use of physics simulation. This makes the terrain deformation feel much more realistic and adds a great deal to the game experience overall. For example if you raise or lower the ground below an object (or enemy!) they will tumble into the newly made hole or rise up onto the new hill and if there happens to be a roof over this hill they will be crushed! Fracture’s graphics are outstanding and this further deepens the overall experience. The music is mostly classical and like some other aspects of this game reminds me of Halo 3. Fracture’s game play is fairly typical of a third person shooter except for the frequent “puzzles” in which the player must use terrain deformation along with logic to solve a problem, in most cases this is getting somewhere or breaking/fixing machinery. There are also the more subtle effects of terrain deformation in combat such as grenades and some weapons making craters or hills which the player (and enemies) will use as cover to give them the advantage. The concept of Fracture is interesting but is not hugely revolutionary as it has been touched on to a lesser extent in older games and in itself is a relatively simple concept. The almost flawless implementation is what sets Fracture apart. 

Fracture has a solid single player mode which took me about 10 hours but I could see it taking anywhere between 8 and 12 hours depending on difficulty, skill of the player and the number of “data chips” (hidden Easter eggs which unlock extra content) the player searches for. There is also a “weapons testing” level unlocked by finding “data chips”. This level contains all the game’s weapons and a few hidden surprises! My only complaint about the campaign is a lack of clear objectives at several points requiring me to spend some time wandering around until some inexplicable action seems to trigger the next sequence. 

I enjoyed the online mode somewhat less, not because it is a poor online game but instead because of the lack of players. I am sure as the game matures this will be solved as more people will buy it. Other than this the game is quite fun and while it is not really revolutionary it is worth buying if you like third person shooters with a little thinking involved. 

Summary: 

Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 5/10
Game play - 7/10
Concept - 7/10
Value - 6/10
Overall - 7/10 

Note, the overall score is not an average of the other scores by my assessment of the game generally. 

Thank you for reading, try the demo of fracture and buy it if you like it.

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