Insert lazy F-word pun here…
Fracked starts fast and barely stops for a breather. It takes a bold choice by strapping skis to your feet before putting a gun in your hand, but it pays off by giving you an opening that you won’t forget.
Barreling down the mountain and trying to outrun an avalanche is a rush that not many games can offer – VR or otherwise.
Release Date: August 20th, 2021
Availability: PSN (Digital)
The story goes that a mining operation atop of a mountain has gone balls up and alien monsters have taken over, or something. There’s a plot about some guy who you don’t see until the very end and crystals that “frack” the workers and turn them into evil minion soldiers.
It’s a silly story but it’s easy to play along with and the writing is quite funny, though 99% of character interactions are between you and your faceless friend Rosalina, who flies around in her helicopter and chimes in over the radio with advice, banter, and more advice.
I liked it for what it was and just like any 80s action movie worth its questionably sticky cinema seat, shooting thousands of bullets over a synth soundtrack took precedence over the story, and rightly so because that’s where Fracked earns its coins.
Fracked is a cover shooter with a difference. To take cover, you grab the edge of walls or objects and then shift yourself around while shooting with the other hand. It’s a simple but effective way of giving you the ability to quickly duck in and out of cover without having to fiddle with the face buttons on limited PS Move wands. Though to be fair to the game’s developer, nDreams, the team has made those PS Move wands feel more than bearable. Using them actually feels good.
Using the Move wands is really easy and intuitive. You move forward using the Move button on the controller and you run by giving it a double-tap. You then use the left controller kind of like a virtual analogue stick; hold it normally to move forward, pull it back to move backwards, and side to side to strafe. Turning is mapped to the face buttons on the right controller, and that’s all there is to it.
It’s not fiddly in the slightest and I was comfortable within just a couple of minutes. I also had zero tracking issues with Fracked, despite playing in my regular setup that can be hit-or-miss, depending on the game.
Fracked comes with a range of comfort options and tweaks to the controls, as well as a fair selection of accessibility options to tinker with if you need them, which is always great to see.
Gunplay is just as easy as getting around with all of the game’s weapons being one-handed, though I will argue that the guns – not the gunplay – are also one of the weakest aspects of the game.
You start with a pistol and later on in the first level, you find a sub-machine gun. You can switch between the two on the fly, but I found that after getting the machine gun, the pistol was no better than a pea-shooter, especially against the game’s tank-like enemies and ever-spawning footsoldiers.
There are other weapons like a laser-sighted six-shooter, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher. So there are five weapons in total, but only two of them are on your virtual person at any time, and the other three are pickups that expire after being used.
I’d have perhaps liked a bit more variety in weapons, maybe even some choices as to which ones you take into each level, but I can see the reasons for the limiting what you can carry – remember how I don’t like fiddly face button controls? An inventory would definitely add fiddly face button controls.
Still, I can’t help but feel a bit let down by the weapon selection, especially given the fantastical nature of the game. Some sci-fi space lasers would have paired nicely with the humming 80s synth tunes.
While the weapons are limited, they are at least fun to use, mostly. Being one-handed, they’re really easy and the two main weapons even offer some form of manual reload, which was cool and even worked while running away from crowds of bad guys – something I found myself doing more than I would have liked.
My first playthrough of Fracked was on the game’s Normal difficulty – and it was solid. I died plenty of times and even threw off the headset in frustration on a few occasions.
Some sections were unduly difficult with the tank-like heavies needing my full attention, but I was constantly being bombarded by the regular soldiers as well as the kamikaze bombers. Trying to take out the big guys while being pecked from every direction was not fun and I found myself working against the game’s fast movement by retreating, staying in one corner, and then cheesing my way through the hard parts by clinging to cover.
Even then, this tactic didn’t always work. The game seems to work on a series of triggers, so if you don’t move past a certain point in a level, the enemies will keep respawning. I found this out the hard way after a 15-minute hold out that had my arms aching by the time I was finally killed.
I still had a great time playing Fracked and these annoyingly difficult moments were thankfully few and far between. I definitely had more fun playing on Easy mode, and the few times I died, I could confidently say it was because I was being a dickhead, not because the game was being unfair.
With a full campaign, gorgeous comic-style graphics, and some of the best free-flowing action on PSVR, it’s a very easy game to recommend.
Fracked PSVR Review
Overall - Must Play - 9/10
nDreams has managed to squeeze a little bit of magic out of the PS Move wands to put together a bombastic VR shooter that feels far bigger than the aged platform it has been built around.
- Fast and fun gameplay
- Decent runtime that feels just about right
- The set pieces are excellent, especially the skiing sections
- Brilliant controls that just work
- Some unforgiving difficulty spikes
- Could have done with more weapons/melee
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PSVR on PS5.