‘Fracture' and ‘Mercenaries 2' offer solid gaming action — and fun

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)


2 ½ stars


SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360, also for Sony PlayStation 3

PRICE: $59.99


Sometimes a good, dumb action game is just what the doctor ordered. Take these two.

First up: "Fracture." It's nothing earthshaking, but it has a few neat twists. The game is designed around terrain deformation: Players' weapons, grenades and a special instant-grading tool can make the land bulge and sink at will to create cover or disrupt fortifications.

The story is a futuristic tale of East vs. West - that is, what's left of the Eastern and Western United States after severe global warming has left much of the center of the nation submerged. The terrain-altering technology that's key to the game play was originally developed to hold back the oceans. But now it's being used for less constructive purposes.

The crux of the matter is the Western region's focus on genetic engineering that the Atlantic Alliance has outlawed. The Pacificans, as the Westerners are now called, have seceded from the union, and now a war is beginning.

Players take on the role of a nearly generic soldier, Jet, in the Atlantic forces. Jet has at his disposal a shielded armor suit and the Entrencher, a neat tool that allows him to create small hills or sinkholes nearly anyplace the ground is clear, allowing him to create impromptu cover or climb to out-of-reach places as needed.

Much of his arsenal also affects the ground. He has some grenades that create holes and bulges as well as booms, and others that raise a spire of rock that can move or destroy obstacles, or serve as a steppingstone.

He has a selection of guns, one of the neatest of which is a rocket launcher that sends its rounds underground to be detonated by the player at any time. There are other interesting weapons as well.

The action itself is merely average, with imprecise aiming helped along by a generous auto-aim, and occasional camera problems that make moving around a pain.

But the graphics - especially the Earth-morphing, physics and explosion effects - are quite nice, and the voice acting is good even when the actors are spouting cliches.


3 stars

PUBLISHER: Electronic Arts

SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360, also for Sony PlayStation 3, PS2, PC

PRICE: $59.99 ($39.99 to $59.99 for other versions)


"Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" is, funnily enough, the sequel to a game published by LucasArts a few years ago. Electronic Arts picked up this installment.

Each of the three protagonists - the practically psychotic Swede, Mattias Nilsson; the hearty Chris Jacobs; and the swift Jennifer Mui - has an innate trait, such as Mui's speed. Together with their logistics officer, Fiona, and anyone they can recruit to their cause, they form a private military corporation, working for the moment in Venezuela.

In the first mission, they play a key part in a coup. After that, they're double-crossed by the coup's instigators.

These guys don't forgive. They want payback - and a payday - and they'll work with anyone to get it. Players can take on solo jobs or cooperate with an online buddy, "Crackdown"-style.

The game plays a lot like the original - sometimes too much, as the enemies are still as dumb as bricks. But it still has that fusion of big-boom action with "Grand Theft Auto"-style open-world and vehicle-jacking game play – it's just not as fresh this time around.

But they have some new tricks. The mercs can now take over occupied vehicles, which opens interesting avenues when encountering tanks or helicopters. And they can still use the money they earn on jobs to call in vehicle and supply drops, or high-explosive air support.

Oh, and everything can be blown up.

This isn't the best-looking game around, but it's serviceable, and the explosions look great.

The bombastic music is also fine, if overly played, but the phrases the mercs yell out as they go about their dirty work start repeating far too soon.




Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.


Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.


Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers Head "Underwater" in New Video (premiere)

Celebrating the first anniversary of Paper Castle, folksy poppers Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers release an uplifting new video for opening track, "Underwater".


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.


Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.


Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.


Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.


Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump White House -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.