Fracture Multiplayer Hands-On

We test out this terraforming shooter's competitive side.


Of the many things that are more fun to do with friends, making a mess is certainly one of them. In the case of Fracture, the terraforming sci-fi shooter soon to arrive from LucasArts, you will be given the option to wreak havoc on Earth's floor in a variety of multiplayer settings designed around the game's unique ground-altering mechanic. We recently played through some of these modes to get a feel for what you can expect when the game is released this October.

Messing with the terrain is only half the fun.
Messing with the terrain is only half the fun.

We got to play through five gameplay modes, and the overall experience turned out to be an interesting combination of new and old. There are times when you don't need to take advantage of your terrain-deforming abilities, times when you do if you want a significant strategic advantage, and times when you must use them to win. Free for All and Team Free for All (think Deathmatch) are the two modes that seem the most traditional. You can simply run around, find new weapons, grenades, and augmentations, and kill to your heart's content. Occasionally, you'll want to deform the terrain to create quick cover or to execute a terrain jump--which is a move where you combine your normal jump with a quick protrusion of the ground for an extra-high leap--to get yourself up to an out-of-the-way sniper perch. But for the most part, these modes can be played similarly to those in any third-person shooter.

It's not until you get into the other modes that the experience begins to feel like something different. Even in Capture the Flag, terrain deformation plays a significant role. This is because certain maps house your flags in a bunker of sorts, with only two or three entrance and exit points. Ft. Point, set beneath the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, is one of these maps. Here both teams can play defense on their flags by raising the ground to seal off the flag bunkers. The opposing team then needs to find a way in, clear out any defenders inside, and hope its path in hasn't been sealed up already. The ability to wreak havoc on choke points like this helps provide a fun twist on such a familiar gameplay mode.

Another way Fracture mixes things up is by throwing you into maps with ample environmental hazards. The map with the most intimidating possibilities for death is called Anasazi. With its neon lights, metallic buildings, and darkened sky, this map is sci-fi through and through. It comes complete with a river of toxic yellow goo running between the teams' bases. This deadly liquid will kill you almost instantly, and any land bridge you attempt to create with your terrain-shifting skills will be quickly melted away by its toxic flow. It creates a troubling situation if you're rushing to get across the map, whether you're a flag carrier or are chasing after a flag carrier.

Another mode we played, Excavation, is a twist on the territories theme. What you do here is look for certain zones scattered around the map and dig away enough ground to reveal a crystal spike. These spikes come shooting out of the ground and allow you to collect points as long as they stay in your possession. An enemy team can blow up your spike with an explosive and raise its own team's spike in its place. To prevent this from happening, you'll need to get clever with the terrain deformation and surround the spike with hills to hide it or use the spike grenade to lift dummy spikes out of the ground to confuse the opposition.

Come and get me!
Come and get me!

The last mode we played was Team Kingmaker. We played this mode on a snowy Washington DC-themed map called Western District. It's essentially a moving King of the Hill mode where your team needs to hold a capture point until time runs out and then move on to the next one. What makes this mode interesting is that the capture point frequently appears indoors, providing an excellent opportunity to take advantage of Fracture's crushing damage feature. What you can do in these situations is find an enemy team crowded around an indoor capture point, raise the ground so as to pancake them against the ceiling, then run in and assume control of that point for the duration of its time. This frequent bunching of enemies also provides a great chance to throw a vortex grenade, which is a neat device that creates a cyclone that sucks up any nearby objects only to spit them all out in random (and often deadly) directions.

To help facilitate all this destruction, Fracture has quite a few interesting weapons to pick up throughout each map. You'll always start out with the standard assault rifle, a weapon that felt a bit anemic to us, but you can soon add to your arsenal in a number of ways. One of our favorites was the ST-14, which is a gun that shoots remote-detonated rockets that travel underground and produce a large protrusion of earth in their path. There's also the mole mine launcher, which shoots mines across the entire level, and the IFR-19, which shoots slow-moving discs you can bounce off walls and detonate from afar. The usual assortment of shotguns and rifles are also available, but like the default assault rifle, those tend to feel underpowered. When we had the chance, we stuck with the weapons that let us play havoc with the ground and really have fun with the terrain deformation.

Fracture is slated for release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. You can expect it to arrive on October 7.

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