Gamers Shoot It Out in LucasArts’ Fractured Future World

LucasArts and Day 1 Studios on Wednesday unveiled “Fracture,” a new shooter game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in which environmental devastation has split the United States into two warring halves.

Set in the year 2161, “Fracture” puts players in the role of Mason Briggs, a demolitions expert fighting for a group called “Atlantic Alliance,” which relies upon cybernetic enhancement for its survival. The other side, known as the “Pacifican army,” uses genetically enhanced soldiers — a method the Atlantic Alliance finds morally reprehensible — in its efforts to win.

Melting of the polar ice caps has caused the Mississippi River to flood, wiping out the middle of the United States. What remains are two warring factions struggling to survive.

Ever-Changing Playing Field

Using a destructive next-generation technology known as “Terrain Deformation,” players can strategically reshape their surroundings on the fly. When Briggs throws a tectonic grenade on a level battlefield, the ground blasts upward to provide access to an otherwise unreachable area. Alt-fire functionality creates enormous craters that can be used to burrow underneath walls, while vortex grenades create swirling, tornado-like masses of boulder, dirt and debris.

“LucasArts sees simulation-based gameplay as an essential component of a true next-gen experience, and that’s exactly what ‘Fracture’ delivers,” said Peter Hirschmann, vice president of product development at LucasArts.

“Day 1 Studios has done a phenomenal job of creating true next-gen tech that not only dazzles on a visual level but also serves as a core gameplay mechanic,” he added. “Unlike many other next-gen games on the market, ‘Fracture’ simply isn’t possible in the previous generation of consoles.”

Due in summer 2008, “Fracture” represents a new story and set of characters from LucasArts, creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” gaming franchises, as well as “Mercenaries” and “Thrillville.”

Promising Potential

“Exciting new intellectual properties serve a vital role to the growth of LucasArts,” said Jim Ward, president of LucasArts. “‘Fracture’ represents the next step in this company initiative, complete with the intriguing story and compelling characters audiences expect of a LucasArts release.”

The new game “has a fascinating premise,” Ted Pollak, senior analyst for the gaming industry with Jon Peddie Research, told TechNewsWorld.

“Depending on the execution, it illustrates that sci-fi stories of the future will be told not just through books and movies, but also through video games,” Pollak said. “If it’s not based on a book already, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Fracture’ has the potential to be leveraged into a series of paperbacks.”

Different Enough?

“‘Fracture’ sounds similar to ‘Halo,’ taking the same theme and leaving it on Earth, with the addition of genetically engineered mutants and borgs,” Brian O’Rourke, a principal analyst at In-Stat, told TechNewsWorld.

Such games are already extremely popular, particularly with males 18 to 34 years old — the category’s “sweet spot” target audience, he said, playing many hours per day.

“The question is,” O’Rourke added, “is ‘Fracture’ a me-too game, or does it offer enough unique elements to attract this audience?”

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