Reviewed on PlayStation 3. Also available on Xbox 360. One player; up to 12 players online. Rated Teen for animated blood, mild language and violence. $59.99. **
Most people assume that a global-warming apocalypse would send the east and west coasts of the U.S. into the depths of the ocean. But the makers of Fracture - an ambitious but ultimately ho-hum first-person shooter for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - have other ideas.
This being a game set in the future, new technology has allowed for the Earth to rise and fall at the whim of man. It's good news for San Francisco and Washington, but apparently the Midwest is a wasteland as a result. Sorry about that, Chicago.
While the narrative of the game involves a civil war between East (geared-up cyborgs) and West (genetic mutants), these Earth-changing powers are the centerpiece of Fracture. Unfortunately, using a gun to create mounds and pits doesn't make very compelling game play.
Yes, being able to alter the terrain sounds cool in theory, but in practice the ability loses its novelty fairly quickly. Being fairly limited in how you can use the ability, you dabble with the dirt for a bit, but you quickly turn to more conventional bombs and bullets.
So with the Earth moving out of the way, what's left is a fairly generic and uninspired Halo clone. On the plus side, many of the weapons are inventive and the multiplayer option is strong. The multiplayer compensates for one of Fracture's chief weaknesses - its enemies aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. Here's hoping your buddy's a little brighter.
Also : out today: : The new NBA season doesn't start until the end of the month, but this year's crop of increasingly lifelike basketball simulators should keep fans occupied in the meantime. NBA Live 09 and NBA 2K9 (both for Xbox 360) and NBA 09: The Inside (for PS3) return with updated rosters, improved graphics and new online modes.