When developer nDreams release a new virtual reality title, I always pay attention. They’ve shown a great deal of variety across their previous releases, with The Assembly, Shooty Fruity, Bloody Zombies, and Phantom: Covert Ops each offering something unique when compared to one another. There’s always one consistency though: quality. With nDreams at the helm, you know you’re going to get an innovative and enjoyable virtual reality experience, and that is certainly the case with their latest release Fracked. It’s a brilliant action title that really ticked all boxes for me, with the non-stop pace of the chaos keeping me thoroughly entertained throughout.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
To get a better idea of what Fracked offers, you’ve only got to picture the opening sequence. The game kicks off with the player speeding down a snowy mountain on skis to outrun an avalanche, with some shooting mechanics introduced once you’re safe. There’s not just shooting though, but climbing, taking cover, riding zip lines… the hero is certainly an energetic one, with quick-paced movements allowing you to work through each environment. Sometimes you’ll be shooting at the same time too, with it clear that Fracked is a very action-heavy experience.
The shootouts of the game will be familiar to gamers who have played a virtual reality shooter before, with a lot of Fracked’s action taking place in arena-like locales that focus heavily on moving around quickly and picking off foes. These enemies will constantly respawn until you reach specific points of each area too, so you can find yourself taking on an onslaught of foes if you don’t keep moving. Not that you’ll mind too much though, with your pistol, SMG, and other specialist weapons making for a decent enough arsenal with which to take down enemies. Admittedly, it would have been nice to have a few more weapons, but the selection you have is still a lot of fun to use.
“The shootouts of the game will be familiar to gamers who have played a virtual reality shooter before, with a lot of Fracked’s action taking place in arena-like locales that focus heavily on moving around quickly and picking off foes.”
The gunfights feel responsive and satisfying throughout thanks to the slick aiming controls, whilst re-loading is involving without being intrusive; whilst you have to manually load ammo in, it’s all held in place ready for the player with just a few small movements required. It keeps everything very quick-paced in the game, with no pressure on the player to stick to one spot or get involved in fiddly motion-based manoeuvres for too long. There is full free movement on offer too, which works surprisingly well with the PlayStation Move controllers. There are plenty of comfort options if you need them and it’s easy to play sitting down though, so virtual reality newbies shouldn’t be intimidated by the frantic pace of the action.
Whilst blazing shootouts are the crux of the experience, it’s also important that players keep out of the way of enemy fire. Fortunately, taking cover is simple enough to perform, with players simply having to grab at an obstacle and then pull their body down below it to hide away. It’s quick and easy, which ensures you won’t be stuck in the line of fire for too long provided there’s a cover spot nearby. And believe me, it’s super satisfying to peek out of cover and pick off enemies that are shooting your way, with Fracked offering some of the finest cover-based shooting that I’ve played in virtual reality. Levels are designed to cater for these sort of shootouts too, with each offering plenty of cover spots and angles to shoot enemies from.
“Believe me, it’s super satisfying to peek out of cover and pick off enemies that are shooting your way, with Fracked offering some of the finest cover-based shooting that I’ve played in virtual reality.”
Of course, it’s not all running and gunning in Fracked, with plenty of action taking place down perilous mountains as you ski your way past obstacles whilst shooting at enemies along the way. Sounds a bit overwhelming, right? Fortunately, the controls in these sections are intuitive enough to make it easy to weave between trees and shoot at the same time, with head movements controlling the direction you move and your hands used to shoot at enemies. It made for some enthralling chase sequences that were full of chaos, with enemies shooting from all directions and destructible objects surrounding the player with explosions. I had so much fun playing through these sections, with each standing out as a highlight of the whole experience – honestly, I would be happy to play a game made up of the skiing alone.
All-out action is very much at the forefront of Fracked’s experience, but there are times when the pace slows down a little as the player has to climb through an array of platforming sections. Much like similar virtual reality titles, it’s all about grabbing the right spots and pulling yourself around, though some set pieces that see the areas you’re climbing across fall away as well as the nerve-wracking sensation of climbing dangerous heights does make these moments feel equally as thrilling as everything else in the game. The controls are very responsive during these sections too, so if you ever miss a climbing point, it’ll be your own doing and not something you can blame on the game.
“All-out action is very much at the forefront of Fracked’s experience, but there are times when the pace slows down a little as the player has to climb through an array of platforming sections.”
I’ve got a whole lot of love for Fracked and loved my time playing, but even I noticed it had some imperfections. There wasn’t a whole lot of variety in the environments and enemy types were limited, whilst the AI of enemies could be a little bit sketchy too. There were a couple of times when they weren’t smart enough to move past an obstacle to shoot me, whilst it was always easy to get away from them. Fracked isn’t an overly challenging game and it certainly makes the player feel like they’re the powerful star of the show, but it would’ve been nice if the enemies were a bit smarter when it came to trying to take me down.
I suppose another complaint could be that the game is on the short side, with it taking around three hours to beat. However, whilst I would have liked more, the excitement and gameplay variety offered across the eight missions of the game certainly didn’t leave me underwhelmed… I just would have liked to have had more because what was on offer was so damn good. You won’t feel like you’re not getting enough bang for your buck with Fracked, but you will wish it was longer just to enjoy more of its satisfying action-fuelled antics. It’s just as fun to enjoy the second time around though, so there are no complaints from me.
“Best of all, it brings with it some additional improvements when played on the PlayStation 5, so it takes some advantage of the current-gen hardware.”
The cherry on top of the experience comes with the cel-shaded visuals, which are packed with colour and add a refreshing sense of vibrancy to just about everything in the world of Fracked. Sure, there’s lots of white on show thanks to the fact you’re in a snowy mountain (duh), but it just makes the action stand out all the more when you’re blasting away at enemies from all angles or watching an explosion in the distance. It’s just a very pretty game throughout and a good showcase of what PlayStation VR is still capable of. Best of all, it brings with it some additional improvements when played on the PlayStation 5, so it takes some advantage of the current-gen hardware.
Fracked is an epic virtual reality shooter that offers plenty of thrills and spills with its frantic set pieces and chaotic shootouts. There’s so much to do in the game thanks to its mixture of shooting, skiing, and climbing, whilst some slick level design ensures that each showdown with enemies brings with it plenty of excitement. It’s one of the closest things you’ll get to an action movie on PlayStation VR, and I had a blast playing it.
Of course, it’s not completely perfect thanks to a lack of enemy and weapon variety, whilst some sketchy AI could make some foes a bit too easy to take down. With its varied campaign and intense action though, this is one PlayStation VR shooter that you simply won’t want to miss out on.
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed)