August 20, 2021
With a title that sounds like a guttural swear word, Fracked simply doesn’t mess about. It has a refreshing sense of immediacy that gets you into the thick of things in as economical a fashion as you could possibly ask for. You are plunged into the action with immediate, stunning effect. You’re dropped onto a snowy slope in a gorgeous cel-shaded world. Then you are sent slaloming downwards in probably the best homage to James Bond ever committed to a game.
Using a turn of the head to steer, your aim is to reach the goal whilst being pursued by an avalanche. This rapidly accelerating snowslide has been triggered by – you guessed it – fracking. I would have never guessed that the controversial method of gas extraction would give us one of the most entertaining games of the year, but that’s 2021.
Fracked: blast and climb
Once you have negotiated this life or death Ski Sunday scenario, it is time for the meat and drink of the game. Namely, the FPS action. Developer nDreams has done extremely well getting a tune out of the ancient Move controllers. You don’t just use them to blast your enemies. But also to climb, negotiate zipwires, and operate environmental puzzles. There’s a well implemented cover system that allows you to grab onto the cover and then peer around it. You can comfortably play this from a seated position, with one controller used to wield your firearm and the other used for moving and to go in and out of cover and grab onto stuff. It all works so well that I am pleased to say I had absolutely zero issues with the controls.
This is a seriously smooth and intuitive experience. There are loads of comfort settings and parameters you can tweak to ensure the best possible time is had by all, which is just lovely. It also made me a bit sad, as I imagined how well this kind of setup could have worked for one of the most crushingly disappointing motion-controlled experiences of my life. Capcom, if you are listening, please give me a VR Steel Battalion.
High octane action
The action comes thick and fast. You’ll veer between crisp arena battles with enemy troops, mild puzzling, precarious climbing, and zipping. There are also further forays into the skiing side of things, with added snowmobiles and baddies to think about.
Fracked keeps things simple with just three main types of foe to think about. There are the standard grunts, tanks, and kamikaze style troops. They all require different strategies to take down. The AI is surprisingly intelligent, and you will find yourself being flanked on the regular and having to make best use of moving around your environment to survive.
Fracked: great weapons
You begin with a weak pistol, and find a machine gun. You get to keep these two as your main arsenal, switching on the fly. Manual reloading is another control aspect that is expertly implemented. This is because you are able to virtually slot cartridges into your gun with ease. There are additional weapons you can pick up, but they are limited use and drop once you have expended all their ammo. I particularly loved the laser guided magnum. Some will argue that Fracked would have benefited from some more enemy types and weapons. But I feel that keeping things streamlined and simple is part of why the game works so well. It is uncomplicated and undemanding – like the best action movies that inspire these kinds of games.
It is a bit short, clocking in at around three hours. But everything else you do aside from wasting hostiles is so much fun. Whether than means climbing up a conventional ladder, avoiding an incoming electrical current on a zipwire, or holding onto a helicopter for dear life. The story is weak and fizzles out a bit at the end. A remote mining operation has gone sideways, and aliens are here for some reason. But who cares when you get to explode a skidoo whilst whizzing down a slope as the pink hued horizon backdrops the carnage?
Because my, oh my does this thing look and sound great. Bright, vivid, almost Borderlands-y in execution. It has a splendid synthwave vibe on the soundtrack. This really is one of the nicest gameworlds I have been in for a while.
I won’t beat around the bush: Fracked is the most stylish and exhilarating VR experience of 2021. It may even be the best implemented shooter I have experienced on the Sony headset. It shows a company completely at ease with the hardware and able to deliver a satisfying and fun romp that you would have to be made of stone not to enjoy.
Controls are superb
Looks and sounds great
Excellent, varied gameplay
Relative lack of enemy types
Story is weak
Lack of weapons
Fracked is the most stylish and exhilarating VR experience of 2021 – and may even be the best implemented shooter I have experienced on the Sony headset.