Developer: Day 1 Studios
Release Date: July 2008
It's incredibly difficult to reinvent the shooter genre. The basic formula of find cover, shoot, reload, explore and repeat has been around for years, and it seems as if it's not going away anytime soon. Fracture , while not completely reinventing the wheel, attempts to add just enough spice to make this stand out from the various other Gears of War clones that have been cropping up recently.
In the world of Fracture , genetic engineering has come to the forefront of science, and human beings have begun to manipulate their own DNA in order to become better, faster and stronger. This doesn't sit well with everyone, however, as a whole faction of the country's populace views such acts as an affront to God and proof that mankind has followed the laws of science too far. Unfortunately, the differences cannot be resolved, and the United States has plunged into a second civil war. The player's goal, as a genetically enhanced super-soldier, is to fight through enemy resistance and end the war once and for all.
The team at Day 1 didn't want to settle for just another shooter, and they didn't want to follow in the footsteps of Crackdown and create characters with superhuman abilities, either. Instead, they've created a game where your greatest ally is the very ground you fight on, which you can bend and shape to your will. You start the game with the Entrencher, a device that lets you create mounds or valleys out of small sections of ground. Mounds are useful because they can create a cover spot, as well as help solve puzzles and access previously unreachable areas. In addition to the Entrencher, you will find a multitude of other weapons, each with its own unique earth-moving abilities.
Vortex grenades create a sort of "turf tornado," sucking in and destroying anything within range. The Black Widow gun launches up to six mines that can be independently detonated, making for a great opportunity to lay traps for unsuspecting foes. Finally, in their demo, Day 1 also showed off a torpedo gun that fired a projectile that traveled underground and could be remotely detonated. This weapon promises to be best suited for taking out bad guys behind hardened cover or otherwise in a position that normal weaponry can't reach.
One of Fracture 's biggest assets is also potentially its most potent liability. With the ability to change the landscape at will, how balanced will the game be? Danny Thorley, president of Day 1, admitted that the team has had some trouble making sure the game engine always works properly and doesn't bug out at inopportune moments. He specifically mentioned a time when a tester blew up a crate containing a story-specific weapon with a Vortex grenade, thereby causing the item to become lost and the game to be stuck.
Also, the cover system utilized by the Entrencher didn't seem all that great. Sure, enemies can't shoot through the mounds you create, but they can very easily go over or around your earthen embankments. These aren't mighty 20-foot-high walls, so what's to stop the baddies from just continuing on their merry way once you summon up some cover? There's still some development time left so the team my yet perfect everything that's currently a question mark and deliver an unbelievable experience.
Fracture succeeds in being unique in many ways. The ability to manipulate your surroundings at any time is indeed a cool feature, and if properly implemented, it stands to be perhaps one of the best game mechanics to come along in quite some time.
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