The enemy design suffers too. You’d expect a range of genetically-engineered abominations, but instead we get a range of different chaps in different coloured suits. Some of them are pushovers. Some, like the flying guys who spit rockets out at you, are really, really annoying. None of them, however, are particularly interesting or intelligent. It’s now six years since Halo showed how AI should be done on a console, so why are we still putting up with bozos who stand still while you shoot at them or who do the old duck-shoot-duck routine until you get them? At no point is there any sense that you’re fighting an organised or responsive foe. Instead, Fracture throws numbers at you in the hope of giving you a challenge. It doesn’t work. Despite all the fun you might have with the terrain deformation weapons, you’ll spend most of your time grinding your way from one area of foes to the next, rarely using your special capabilities for anything more than some quick cover here or a dirty way to disrupt an enemy attack over there.
You see, the game doesn’t encourage you to use your imagination. There are puzzles, but 90 per cent of the time the solutions are virtually handed to you on a plate. When they’re not, you can spend a ridiculous amount of time working out what to do because the information isn’t there or – in one case – an onscreen prompt is misleading. Remember how Bioshock or Deus Ex or Half-Life 2 gave you a range of tools with which you could deal with a situation then left you to improvise and have fun? Well, Fracture could have done the same thing, but instead it merely places you in situation after situation where all the tools are readily at hand and there’s really only one way to move on. Even Army of Two showed more level design nouse than this.
Of course, it would have helped if the art team had used a little more of their imagination too. The Gears of War and Halo 3 influences are everywhere, yet the game rarely moves beyond a palette of greys and browns in terms of scenery, and there’s no sign of the ruined beauty of the former or the lush environments and alien aesthetic of the latter. It’s not a bad looking game – there’s plenty of background detail and the lighting, textures and animation are all up to scratch – but there are few points that elicit any response beyond ‘that looks pretty good.’ Maybe we’ve been spoilt, but I’d be gobsmacked if, in five years time, somebody showed me a screenshot of Fracture and I could identify what game it was.