In today’s industry it’s always refreshing to find that some companies are willing to raise the bar and inject a little innovation into a genre growing as rapidly stale and ubiquitous as the First-Person Shooter. Chances are that the majority of you have already downloaded the demo for LucasArts' upcoming title Fracture, the first game to feature full-fledged terrain deformation. Due to the positive feedback of the demo, PlayStation Universe decided to contact LucasArts to get our readers a little more info on the game. Vicki Miller, a production assistant, was able to take the time out of her schedule to sit down and answer some of our questions.
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PSU: The biggest selling point for Fracture seems to be the highly unique terrain deformation. What types of obstacles did you guys encounter when trying to incorporate this fantastic element into your title?
Vicki Miller: There were a number of technical and design challenges that arose due to terrain deformation during the development of Fracture. Being able to manipulate the ground impacted many of the other major systems in the game such as AI. In most games, the AI can count on being able to travel along a set path from point A to point B. In Fracture however, that path is continually changing. It was a big challenge for the engineers to make sure that the AI would make intelligent decisions both in path-finding and tactics when the battlefield was constantly morphing. You’ll find that the AI doesn’t always react the same way to how the player changes the environment. For example, sometimes they will use TD against the player, sometimes they will charge over the players’ cover, and sometimes they will flank the player. It was also challenging in the design sense, because the designers couldn’t count on players always approaching a battle or challenge from the same direction. We spent a lot of time tuning terrain deformation to make sure that players would be able to craft their own tactics in battle, and that they would feel successful with any method they chose.
PSU: Outside of the terrain deformation, are there any other elements that separate the title from others of the same genre?
Miller: While terrain deformation is the main feature that sets Fracture apart from other shooters on the market, there will also be an augmentation system in the game. As the player progresses through the campaign, new cybernetic “augmentations” will be downloaded to enhance existing abilities such as jump and melee. These ‘power-ups’ also play a big role in multiplayer where they will be scattered across the map for players on either team to pick up.
PSU: While the Entrencher is a cool weapon that gives you the ability to deform the terrain, can you let us in on the specific types of grenades that Fracture will offer that do some quirky things as well?
Miller: There will be four different grenade types the player will have access to in Fracture. They are Tectonic, Subsonic, Spike, and Vortex grenades. The Tectonic and Subsonic grenades will raise or lower the ground respectively upon detonation. They also do a large amount of damage to the surrounding area, and function as an integral part of players’ arsenal. Spike grenades create a pillar of molten rock that forms from the ground, which can be used for a variety of tactical and navigation purposes. Players will be able to lift objects or even ride on top of the spike to reach higher ledges. Finally, the most powerful grenade is the Vortex. It creates a swirling mass of energy that will suck any loose objects or enemies in, spin them around, and then explode with deadly force.
PSU: The multiplayer experience caps out at just 12 players per match, however, how many multiplayer maps will be made available? Also, which of these maps are personal favorites for the development team (and why)?
Miller: There will be 8 multiplayer maps based on the locations in the single player campaign, San Francisco, Southwest, and Washington DC. On the development team, we have a lot of fun on all of the maps. For our favorites, it really depends what mode is being played. My personal favorite is Biohazard because there are tons of environmental hazards and TD tricks that can be used throughout the map to make the combat varied and unique.
PSU: Outside of the generic online game modes, are there any modes that Fracture offers that are unique from other shooting franchises?
Miller: In addition to the campaign mode and the various online multiplayer modes, Fracture also has a weapon testing arena that players will be able to unlock by collecting data cells. These collectibles are found throughout the single player campaign, and the more data cells collected, the more weapons players will have access to in arena.
PSU: Does LucasArts have any downloadable content in mind for the near future in order to help prolong the title's replayability?
Miller: We haven’t announced any plans for downloadable content at this time. However, a strong multiplayer experience should provide great replay value.
PSU: LucasArts is releasing two hotly anticipated titles over the course of the next month in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Fracture; can you reveal what the company has lined up after that?
Miller: After The Force Unleashed and Fracture, we will be releasing Clone Wars for the Nintendo Wii and DS in November. We are very excited about all of our titles coming out this year.
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PSU would like to take this opportunity to thank Vicki Miller for answering our questions. Fracture is due for release on October 7.