Breaking New Ground: Fracture Interview
LucasArts and Day 1 Studios want you to change your world. We find out how.
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The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are crammed with computing power, but are developers really giving us new experiences that use this might? According to Cameron Suey of LucasArts, new shooter Fracture will do just that.
"Fracture is another game that could only be on a next-gen console based on the technology it's using," Suey told us during a recent visit. And far from just making the game look better, that technology is being used for something most people won't have seen much in games.
For its story, Fracture, in development at Day 1 Studios in Chicago (see our previous interview with their big boss here), reaches for the front pages, creating a fictional future based on current events, including genetic engineering and global warming.
The game is set in the middle of the 22nd century, a time when the US has been splintered after terrible abuses of technology. You play as Mason Briggs, a demolitions expect on the side of the Atlantic Alliance.
Decades before the start of the game, US scientists discover tectonic energy and find ways to use the power of the Earth to their advantage. This unleashes nature's fury, bringing tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.
Fast forward to 2110, when Ivy League scientists at East Coast universities make startling breakthroughs in cloning technology. Public outcry at the horrible repercussions of their slipshod research drives the scientists westward where they continue their genetic research and ally themselves with Asian countries to form the Republic of Pacifica. Meanwhile, in the east, the remaining people concentrate on cybernetics, forming the Atlantic Alliance with European nations.
The game picks up in 2161, with the war between the two sides already raging. It's cybernetics versus genetics, and in the middle is terrain deformation.
The key difference between Fracture and the raft of shooters headed to the new consoles rests in the game giving you the ability to physically manipulate the world beneath your feet.
"Previously in military history the only thing you couldn't change in a battle was exactly where you fought the battle. You were stuck with the battlefield you were given. And battles can be won and lost depending on something as simple as who has the higher ground. With Fracture all that's been thrown out the window," says Suey.
The weapons for mass deformation are housed inside the four different grenade types you can carry. These are mapped to the D-pad and using them brings about massive changes in the environments.
There are Tectonic grenades that raise terrain and Subsonic ones that make it fall. There are Spike grenades, which cause magma to rush out from inside the Earth, rising in a pillar that you can ride like an escalator. And then there are the Vortex grenades, so named because they create a short-lived whirlpool in the world, sucking rocks, enemies and anything else in their vicinity into oblivion.