What’s your idea of the perfect handheld weapon? A gun? A bazooka? A glowing laser blade? Yeah, that’s all pretty good; but the minds at publisher LucasArts and developer Day 1 Studios (they made the MechAssault games for Xbox) think they may have found something even better for Fracture, their new third-person shooter due mid-2008 for PS3 and 360 – how about a mountain?
Okay, not exactly a mountain, but not far from it. In Fracture, you play Mason Briggs, a futuristic soldier whose grenades can literally terraform the very battleground beneath your feet. Need cover? Toss a tectonic grenade and watch as a small hill erupts right before your eyes. See a small chunk of masonry missing in the wall of the enemy stronghold? Drop a subsonic grenade and ten seconds later, you can waltz right in through the underground tunnel that appears.
There’re a ton more, but let’s pause to discuss how even these two elements alone have huge tactical ramifications. In the demo level we saw (which, incidentally, is a dried up lakebed that used to be the San Francisco Bay – we’ll get to that soon) Briggs was beset by a squad of enemies approaching from left, right and center, intent upon perforating his beefy frame. He threw down a grenade, a mound of earth sprang up like a wall, offering him instant cover. Then, he took his standard rifle - the Bulldog – and whittled out a small valley in that wall, creating a bottleneck that enemies were then forced to pass through to get to him.
These weapons are versatile, too. The tectonic grenade creates hills that are good for providing instant cover, but can also provide you with a ramp to reach a higher point. Or, to use another example from the demo: there was an anti-aircraft gun that Briggs’ Bulldog couldn’t damage, and that was shielded from above by a force field – so he threw a tectonic grenade at the gun’s base and the ground rose, smashing the gun right into the force field above it. The subsonic grenade could create a tunnel (when applicable), but can just as easily flatten a hill or dig a hole – possibly for making a narrow passage impassable to heavy vehicles like tanks.