Fracture Multiplayer - Fisting And Other Indoor Sports

Fracture's multiplayer is everything you'd expect from a shooter with online capabilities. A 16-man blitz of violence with exploding death, capture the flag and many a shotgun to the face.

So what's the twist? Besides that spiffy terrain altering gun you heard all about earlier? It's all about the Vortex Grenades, baby. This little incendiary can (and should) be tossed far away from the player to land in 1) an enclosed space, 2) right in the middle of a bunch of guys or 3) right next to your flag - which results in a mini-energy tornado. Said tornado sucks in everything around it; people, boulders, debris; and whirls it around furiously before exploding in a bright flash. The Vortex is indiscriminate - it's got "team-killer" written all over it, if you're not careful to announce to your guys you're throwing one down. Even if you survive being pummelled by all the stuff inside the vortex when it goes off, nobody survives the explode-y part.

What was I talking about? Oh, right - Fracture multiplayer. I got my hands on four different modes: death match (both team and free-for-all, but I lump them together in one mode), conquering-points-on-the-map, capture the flag and something called king of the hill.

We'll start with king of the hill, because as far as I can tell (and feel free to point out my ignorance in the comments), it's unique to Fracture. You spawn in and locate a point on the map that appears on your radar as a white blip and in front of you as a white, hazy circle. Step inside and the circle turns the colour of your team and you earn points. You get more points for more of your team getting inside with you - but you've got to hold the point against the other team that comes to take it from you (and this is where the Vortex Grenade comes in handy). After a few minutes, the point will move to somewhere else on the map and you've got to frantically go find it and hold it all over again.

Conquering-points-on-the-map is a game model everyone knows; Fracture adds to it by making you "excavate" the points and then wait around while a giant spire grows out of the captured point (like waiting for your flag to hoist or something). The spires can be destroyed, so the idea is half your team is defending while the other half is conquering new or occupied points. The one with the most at the end of the time limit wins.

Capture the flag seems like it hasn't changes since I played Tribes with my eighth grade boyfriend after school. But Fracture's terrain gimmick does change gameplay a little because there are no defined choke points on the maps. Anywhere that looks like it might be a bottleneck can suddenly become a cavern, a mountain range - or they could just go around it, make a bridge through an acid river and attack you from behind. That was the one thing I got good at in this map - jumping into the acid and then executing a double-jump to set off my terrain gun directly beneath me, raising up non-acid chunks of land for me to stand on temporarily while I figured out where to go on the map. You really need to be looking at the radar and not at the terrain - because the terrain never stays the same for a whole match.

Above: "Frank, get down from there!"

Death match is what it sounds like; I mostly used the time to try out all the weapons, since I hold no prayer in hell of actually killing anybody on purpose with any of them. The ice rifle was cool (no pun intended), freezing your opponent into a block of ice, which you could then shatter for the kill. Spike grenades caused a spire of earth to suddenly jut out of the ground flinging bodies this way and that. And the rocket launcher... well, do you really need to be told what that does?

After dying about ten times, I decided I should stop pretending to play like I actually knew what I was doing. I instead started doing what I always do in these games: running up to people and hitting them (eff the guns).

Every time you kill someone, you get that battle text that tells you who you killed and how. Only the "how" is represented by an icon and the icon for a melee kill is... a fist.

"You fisted killadog37!"
"You fisted Puffpaynt!"
"You fisted Your Mom!"

I called the QA lead over. "So, if I melee two people in a row - unlikely, since I suck - will I get two fist icons?"

"Um... maybe. Why?"

"Because then I'd be double-fisting."

It took him a minute to get it. Give him a break, the guy hasn't slept in days, most likely.

We concluded our multiplayer hands-on with one last king of the hill match. Shaun McInnis of Gamespot killed everybody with frequent Vortex Grenades on the capture points; Flynn De Marco and I discussed Tinkerbell the video game; and of course, the QA teamed owned the collective journalists' arse at the end of the match.

Fracture is out this October on 360 and PS3.


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