Platforms: PlayStation 3//Xbox 360
Publisher: EA Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Third Person Shooter Platform Played: Xbox 360
The past few years have seen gaming narratives that attempt to capture an emotional response from the gamer. Telltale’s critically acclaimed The Walking Dead and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us are two games in particular that have controlled our emotions and made us experience what the character is going through. Fuse takes this narrative design and throws it out the window; taking narrative back to when games were primarily about having fun.
Right from the start, Fuse‘s campaign feels cliché; a team of four mercenaries, each with unique pasts, being paid to destroy a top secret chemical compound called Fuse, that the government is unaware of. As the story progresses, the team find themselves uncovering a terror plot and, armed with Fuse powered weapons, they decide to go out of their way to save the Earth. While clichéd, the campaign is filled with humour and banter between the characters. One of my favourite moments in the game involved the team obliterating enemies while discussing Dalton’s (the leader of Overstrike 9) relationship with a psycho. The conversational banter between the four Overstrike 9 members flows brilliantly and did not feel forced. I found myself enjoying every minute of the 8 to 9 hour campaign.
At its core, Fuse is a cover based third person shooter. While the shooting felt floaty at times, I adjusted quickly to it and did not have many problems with aiming. Besides your usual guns (assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, etc.) each of the four characters has a special Fuse weapon. Each weapon has a different ability and they all have their different uses. For example, Dalton’s ‘mag shield’ is great for advancing on enemies if there is no cover, while Jacob’s ‘arcshot’ is better for taking out those pesky snipers who are preventing your advance. The weapons can be used in tandem to create combos and score more experience. Often these combos will be accidental, but turning three enemies into crystal and watching supernovas explode from it looks spectacular.
Stealth fans will be happy to know that some combat situations can be cleared without ever entering into a fire fight. While it’s not possible to clear a room without killing, stealth kills allow patient gamers the ability to minimize, or completely eliminate, the amount of enemies they will have to engage in a gun fight.
Combat was not perfect, though. The cover based system worked well when transitioning into cover, but moving from cover to cover quickly is not as smooth as something like Gears of War‘s system. None the less, it was manageable and did not take away from the experience.
Fuse has several enemy types to mix up its combat. These range from your typical soldier, to soldiers who can turn invisible, to mechanised robots, and even bigger mechanised robots. Rooms of the same type of enemy can get boring because of the lack of improvisation in strategy; however, when Fuse throws three or four different types of enemies at you, things can get frantic. The good kind of frantic. During one of the missions, I saw soldiers enter the room and turn invisible, but as I searched for them, a mech wielding a flamethrower caught me off guard and forced me to change my tactics. It is a nice change from the lack of enemy variety in other shooters and I was forced to think on my feet and change my strategy on the fly frequently.
Fuse also features some boss fights throughout the campaign. While most are generic, hit the weak spot fights, they often forced movement and awareness on the battlefield. One boss had the ability to destroy cover, turning the arena into an open field, which prompted a literal run and gun boss fight. I enjoyed all the boss fights as most shooters typically avoid boss battles. Fuse’s boss battles are quite fun, too.
Fuse paces itself well; the action is mostly fast and adrenaline fuelling. However there are sequences, like wall climbing, that have been added to intentionally slow the pace down before more intense shooting sections. I found they were spaced out nicely and lasted just long enough.
Insomniac has placed a lot of emphasis on Fuse being a co-op based game, as the single player and co-op content is the same. Even in single player there are always four playable characters in the game. Instead of locking the player into one character, Insomniac has implemented a ‘Leap’ feature. Leap allows you to jump to any AI controlled character at any time. I love this feature and it is very fitting for a game like Fuse. While single player is fun, the design philosophy of Fuse shows when more human players are playing. From what I have played, the more human players there are the more fun the game becomes. The AI is capable, but being able to coordinate your strategy and having an understanding of how each character is supposed to be played not only puts less pressure on you, but also allows for some great stories of teamwork and success. It also allows most situations to be addressed differently.
At first, I was quite sceptical about having three AI partners, but Fuse’s AI work well. The AI is aware of each character’s strengths and what they should be doing in a fight. Dalton’s AI will put up his mag shield to help the team advance, and Izzy will focus on the riot shield soldiers to crystallise and stun them. Additionally, the AI does not leave it all up to you to heal the team; when a player goes down, they will rush over the try to help them (even rushing over to heal the player).
The main problem I have with Fuse is its lasting appeal. Fuse offers two game modes; campaign and a wave based Echelon Mode (which has no humorous banter between characters like in the campaign). I cannot see anything that will keep gamers coming back in the long run. The campaign has four difficulty levels (one of which is unlocked after beating the game on hard) and the Echelon mode has six maps, but each map only has 12 waves which can be beaten easily with four human players. The XP system adds longevity, but the shortness of the wave based mode does not help.
While Fuse is an extremely fun game, it does not offer enough to differentiate itself from the pack. Fuse has a great enemy variety, interesting weapons, and an enjoyable story and is a refreshing entry into an industry that has been engulfed in ‘sequelitis’. While Insomniac’s first multi-platform title will probably not be receiving any Game of the Year nominations, it is a game everyone should play because it evokes the true reason why we all play video games- to have fun. Also if you have friends to play it with, play it with them. This game is much more enjoyable when you are wreaking havoc with your friends.
+ Fun, fun, fun
+ Banter between characters
+ Fuse weapons
+ Enemy variety
- Cliché plot
- Few game modes
- Does not do much to stand out.
For more about how we decide on a review score, check out our review guide.