Updated with all new multiplayer details.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
August 22nd 2008
Last Update: 7/22/08
The nice thing about knowing next to nothing about a game is sometimes it can smack you upside the head and force you to take notice. So it was with Fracture, newest creation of Day 1 Studios, better known for the MechAssault series. This game is a third-person shooter stuck on turbo. Once you get past the obligatory tutorial bits, the game kicks things into high gear and only stops to catch its breath at the occasional cut scene. The story is one of disunited states of America, divided into warring factions over the crumbling environment. One tinkers with genetics and the other sticks electrodes in people, and neither side likes the other very much. Also, both have discovered the wonders of terrain deformation.
You can raise and lower the ground with a blast from your special device, but this isn't just a gimmicky bit to solve puzzles. Having the higher ground, creating a barrier against rampaging enemies, giving yourself somewhere to hide to let your shields recharge... it's a good thing the controls are slick and responsive because you'll be using this feature every minute as you barrel through some fairly linear and tightly focused environments to face progressively more dangerous foes. The upside of the whole genetically engineered enemies is facing some pretty unexpected customers, from super-fast cheetahs to leaping hydras, though the regular foot soldiers are no pushovers either. When they come in legion, as they usually do, they can quickly overwhelm if you don't throw up a little cover. Though your enemies have access to the same tricks, and have no problem caving in the ground underneath your feet. Weapons come in the standard machine gun and rocket launcher flavors, but there are also weapons to shoot around corners and even create a singularity that draws in all the objects around you to squash your foes at the center. Expect these to be used against you as well.
How will all of this work in multiplayer? No idea. There will be multiplayer, where you can join up with either the gene freaks or the cyber weirdos, but that wasn't playable or much discussed at E3. I'd expect it would be fast-paced and offer a new twist on classics like deathmatch and capture the flag, but I'm personally hoping for a few new modes to truly take advantage of the changing terrain. Visually, it was nice but nothing special, with well-crafted designs that lacked much to stand out from the competition. It's a shame, because I have a feeling that Fracture will go overlooked when its adrenaline-fueled gameplay deserves a break.