Fracture is one of those games that you hear about and think it all sounds pretty cool. A sci-fi shooter featuring a futuristic war fueled by genetic and terrain modification technology? Yeah, that could be okay. Then you actually get to playing, and it’s kind of a snooze. Just a mediocre game, or a philosophical warning about the dangers of expectations? You make the call.
Fracture fails immediately with its attempts to draw you into its story. You start out going to arrest some general—which obviously isn’t going to go well or there wouldn’t be a game—while your commanding officer blathers some back story at you that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The bad guys have embraced genetic modification, outlawed by the good guys, and the good guys have this terrain modification thingy that you get to play around with while you fight them. There’s a lot of shooting dudes and exploring secret labs and stopping doomsday machines, and it’s hard to give a damn about any of it.
Of course having a paper-thin story hasn’t stopped many a game from being totally awesome, and in those cases it’s because the action is so unspeakably good that it really doesn’t matter. Is that the case with Fracture? Well, no. Not so much. Fracture’s claim to fame is this thing called The Entrencher, which is a fancy name for a beam you can shoot from your armor that can either raise or lower the ground, and it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that you’ll be using it a lot. You’re constantly being forced to raise the ground to lift a section of bridge, or lower it to go through a tunnel, and after a while you just get sort of numb to it. It’s neat to play around briefly, but adding or subtracting lumps of dirt really only qualifies as entertainment if you’re under the age of five.
The other main use for the super duper garden weasel is making cover for yourself during firefights. This too you will be doing a lot of because the enemy never misses, on any difficulty. If they can see you, they will hit you, from pretty freakin’ far away to boot. Most of the game can be cleared by putting up some mounds of cover, running up to the top, shooting someone dead, running back to cover while your shield recharges, and repeating until everyone is toast. For all the talk about future tech, you almost exclusively fight pretty normal dudes with pretty normal guns for the entirety of the game. On the rare occasions that you get one of the game’s few kooky weapons, like a burrowing-torpedo launcher, it has so few shots that you’re back to mundane rifles in no time. Where’s the fun in that? Being able to carry all the weapons rather than just two, or just having more ammo laying around, might have helped, as would more creative enemies, but sadly what’s provided just doesn’t thrill.
Fracture makes all the mistakes of the generic shooter and hangs onto the hope that its one gimmick is enough to bail it out. It isn’t. In fact, it’s not even close. The trappings are uninspired and dirt slinging is insufficient as a substitute for actual quality gameplay. There’s only one boss-type enemy, for crying out loud, and you fight him about four times, including the end of the game. Multiplayer is a pretty generic array of modes and the terrain modification doesn’t do much to enhance the experience. It winds up much the same as the single player experience, in that nothing is broken but nothing is particularly exciting either. Diehard shooter enthusiasts might find something here to enjoy, possibly for gimmick value alone, but chances are there’s something available that’s better than Fracture in every way. Save it for a desperation pick-up after you’ve played everything else.