New third-person shooter from LucasArts offers groundbreaking gameplay (but not much else). Plus: Reviews of ''De Blob'' and ''Wario Land: Shake It!'' for the Wii

(LucasArts; Xbox 360, PS3; Teen)

In the long history of games in which you-shoot-stuff-press-”reload”-and-shoot-stuff-some-more, there have been lots of significant advances: the two-weapon limit in Halo, the BFG in Doom, the snap-out-of-cover mechanics in Rainbow Six Vegas. Gamers can spot game changers when they see them.

Fracture, a new third-person shooter from LucasArts — who’ve taken something of a drubbing over The Force Unleashed — offers a new wrinkle: You can alter the terrain. Yes, at the touch of a shoulder button, you can make a hill. Or a basin. This feature, we can emphatically state, is not a game changer. While you think it’d be helpful to be able to create one’s own cover while in the midst of a firefight, or create a sinkhole to slip under an enemy’s wall — it turns out that this ability is more confusing than helpful. Worse, it’s not even any fun.

Set in a world where global warming has divided the United States into two separate land masses, Fracture finds you playing a soldier for the Atlantic Alliance (with the rather preposterously name of Jet Brody). Your task is to bring in the renegade general from the Republic of Pacifica, a man willing to genetically enhance his armed forces — which, apparently, is illegal in this particular future. There’s a lot of technobabble about how your super-trooper is able to affect the terrain, along with handy hints as to how best to utilize your new gadget.

The thing I could never get my head around was ”If someone can invent a weapon that allows you to do this to raw earth, why not have that same dude just invent a bigger, better gun? Or better armor?” And while terrain is important from a battlefield-strategy perspective, shooters like this aren’t about strategy — they’re about being able to blow away the multitudes of bad guys rolling across the field, hills and all. Sadly, this is an average shooter relying on a technological advantage that doesn’t add much to the experience. —Marc Bernardin

· The futuristic setting is topical and evocative

· The terrain-adjustment concept doesn’t add anything to gameplay
· The weapon choices are confusing
· Gameplay is frenetic, and not in a good way C+

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