Demo Jimpressions: Fracture

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While The Force Unleashed has been taking headlines and column inches during development, LucasArts’ other project, Fracture, has been a bit more reserved.

Just in case you didn’t know or failed to catch Dyson’s multiplayer preview, Fracture is a third-person shooter with a neat little terrain-shifting gimmick. Using THE PHYSICS, you can morph the game’s environment around you, using various weapons and tools at your disposal to change the surroundings to your advantage.

LucasArts released a demo on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 today, and as always, Destructoid made sure to check it out. Come with us as we see how Fracture is … shaping … up. Hahaha. Haha. Ha.

The Fracture demo is pretty short and mostly serves as a tutorial with a bit of action thrown in at the end. After a cutscene that I can hardly remember because it was too boring, you’re given your special Dirt-Changing-Gun. It’s not actually called that, but I prefer the name. The DCG can be used to mold the Earth around you, either raising it or lowering it with a simple press of the two shoulder buttons.

In the demo, the DCG has a number of uses. You can create your own steps to reach places, or dig under obstructions. You can also shoot underneath the feet of enemies and watch them fly in the air — although it turns out not to be that useful a tactic, considering the enemies seem unfazed by the fact that the ground just launched them skyward. 

In addition to dirt manipulation, you are also given a crash course in various weapons, from rocket launchers to sniper rifles. The tutorial is definitely as much a tech demo as anything else, as it quite blatantly takes you on a tour of environmental destruction and twisting metal. Of all the weapons that get shown, the most interesting is the spike grenade, which summons a large pillar of earth to shoot out of the ground. 

It all looks very pretty and it’s an interesting gimmick, but even in the five-minute demo, it stops being all that impressive after you’ve done it a few times. Unlike The Force Unleashed, for example, where there’s a lasting appeal to throwing enemies around with Force powers, it’s just not that fun raising and lowering patches of dirt. In the demo alone, the gimmick becomes formulaic — make cover with raised dirt, make steps to get to a high place, make holes to get under stuff. That’s pretty much it and it manages to repeat itself a couple of times during the demo. If a mere five minutes of gameplay is repetitive, I dread to think what it’ll be like over the course of several hours.

As well as the gimmickry, there is also some conventional gunplay, and it’s pretty conventional indeed. You know the drill — enemies with machine guns and the occasional turret, loose and imprecise controls, all that good stuff. Pretty much what we’ve come to expect from a shooter that isn’t high-profile enough to have the lion’s share of the budget. 

From the looks of things, Fracture is a tech demo through and through, and was made to basically say, “Look at the physics we have! Look at them!” We won’t know for sure until we get a full copy, but if demos are intended to make you want to buy a game, then this demo has failed for me at least. The physics sure are pretty, but everything else is completely forgettable. 

If you’ve been interested in Fracture, then definitely try the demo before you buy.

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