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Old 07-15-2007, 03:48 PM
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You can expect two things from LucasArts titles from this point forward: dramatic storytelling and groundbreaking gaming technology. One look at The Force Unleashed immediately reinforces the story/tech one-two, but there was a lesser known title demoed at LucasArts’ E3 2007 booth that also fits this description to a T.

Fracture is a brand new IP from Day 1 studios and LucasArts that is looking to literally and figuratively change the landscape of next-gen FPS gaming. You may recognize Day 1 from their work on the famed Mech Assault series, but you won’t be tearing up the earth in a metal walker in Fracture. Oh, the earth will be torn up, but will become as such through a gaming technology that could someday revolutionize any game that features action on a planet with gravitational pull.

Day 1’s buzzphrase for their entire presentation was Terrain Deformation, which translates into a game’s context exactly how you think it does. Each character comes with a tool set that can drastically shape the maps in Fracture, in real time. The earth-shifting tools just so happen to double as weapons too, which means either the terrain or the enemy is constantly shifting shape during the dense battles of Fracture.

Enjoy the vortex of hell.

Deforming landscapes real time? Sounds juicy, but let’s back up for a moment and address the second half of Lucas’ Golden Rule- the story. Fracture is set in the not-too-distant future, where Al Gore’s nightmare of global warming catastrophes comes true. At the same time (around the year 2100) that the earth’s core begins to boil, stem cell research is perfected, but causes a severe dichotomy between those that think it’s a godsend and those that consider it “playing God”. A dichotomy of sorts then occurs in the North American terrain, as the earth’s molten core and natural disasters cause the eastern and western halves of the continent to pull apart. Now being closer to the western part of the eastern hemisphere (let that sink in for a bit), the eastern half of the former U.S. ends up allying with Europe; not only because of geography but also because of their anti-cloning stance. The new region is known as the Atlantic Alliance, which represents the good guys in LucasArts’ adventure. Conversely, as the western states peel closer to Australia and Asia, a unification of both land mass and ethical stance occurs. This new region known as the Republic of Pacifica is fully behind genetic tomfoolery, and thusly plays the goons in this rocky road trip through future time.

With all of the shifts in the world’s landscape in 2161, it’s no big surprise that San Francisco has fallen victim to the Pacific. Fracture’s Alcatraz is now situated on a sheer rock face, and the land mass around the Golden Gate Bridge is an utter mess. This doesn’t stop Day 1 from starting their campaign demo of Fracture deep inside of NoCal’s thriving metropolis.

So back to this ultra-slick Terrain Deformation system. In single player action, it looks as though the ability to shape earth will not only be used offensively and defensively, but will also aid in the solving of some puzzle situations. The main way to upset said ground is by throwing one of the four grenade types in the game (accessed via the D-pad and thrown with the left trigger). The Tectonic grenade blisters the earth, while the Subsonic grenade creates large crevasses in the landscape. A spike grenade forms molten pillars that can be used for cover, or that can be ridden for a higher vantage point. And lastly, the Vortex grenade causes everything inside a set radius to be sucked into an endless abyss beneath the crust. The standard Pacifica and Alliance rifles both come equipped with alternate fire functions that instantly act like a thrown Tectonic grenade too, thus making it easy to change the battle landscape even when projectile supplies are low.
the brief single player run-through, a pesky AA gun needed taken out for the mission to continue. The AA gun had its own shield and also had armor that made it impervious to normal Alliance Bulldog rifle rounds. The Answer? Throw a Tectonic grenade near the base of the AA gun, upset the earth underneath it, and knock the contraption into its own shielding system. Voila- topographical destruction.

Even though Fracture is still over a year from ship, Day 1 was far enough ahead of the game by this year’s E3 to offer hands-on multiplayer to a select few media sites. Being the fetching gents that we are, we had a chance to play Fracture in a multiplayer format that ran surprisingly well on early code.

A training mission with bots and all of the weapons got us familiar with the controls and landscape tools. Speaking of controls, the set is very easy to use and a snap to get cozy with. Left and right sticks do the norm, while the right and left triggers are fire and grenade respectively. The right trigger is an alternate fire function that is equipped with all weapons. Y cycles weapons, with up to three allowed in inventory at once. You can also jump with the A button and crouch by clicking the left stick.

San Francisco never looked so fun.

Weapons aren’t Unreal off-the-wall, but there’s a decent amount of variance among them. It’s apparent that Day 1 wanted to keep the focus on altering the earth, but weapons such as a multiple grenade launcher (with a remote det alternate fire feature), a shotgun with a deflect variant and a rocket launcher that has a burrowing round are quite impressive.

Once the Team Deathmatch round was loaded up, it was immediately apparent that Day 1 has something hot on their hands. The build was a bit pared down visually for performance reasons at this early stage, and there were a couple of framerate problems here and there, but for the most part Fracture multiplayer was a blast.

The learning curve is very steep with the Terrain Deformation functionality, mainly because most gamers aren’t used to having such power on-the-fly. For example, instead of jumping like a ballerina in heavy fire, you can now throw down a Tectonic grenade and build cover for your soldier. Or instead of locating and moving to the highest point of the map for, uh, sniping, you can create your own campsite with a Spike grenade.

Terrain Deformation could also mean big things in terms of multiplayer game modes too if you think about it for a sec. An unspecified source hinted to a Capture the Flag that would contain flags just like a standard game, but the flags would be buried somewhere underneath the map. Only a game like Fracture could make buried flags possible, as Terrain Deformation would have the ability to unearth these textile treasures as a match wore on.

We’re really excited for Fracture after opening up our minds a bit to just how game-changing malleable landscapes can be. A thorough survey of the capabilities of Day 1’s system will take a debug build and some time, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as soon as we hit, er, pay dirt.

Last edited by Master X; 07-15-2007 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:27 PM
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sounds promising, but could turn out gimmicky... lucasarts killed any trust i have in them with the absolutely asstastic battlefront games.
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