|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Dev: Insomniac Games|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: May 28, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
by Josh Engen
For some reason, Fuse has managed to fly under the radar since it was unveiled at E3 in 2011. Typically, when a title casually meanders into the market without being overhyped by its publisher, it has something to be embarrassed about. But this isn't the case with Fuse.
The first time I heard about Insomniac Games' latest opus, I was definitely optimistic. Insomniac has a well-established history of rolling out games with creative weaponry and rock-solid gameplay (Resistance and Ratchet & Clank, anyone?), and Fuse is no different. However, even after spending the better part of last week playing Fuse, I still can't decide if I should give the game two thumbs down or one thumb up. Either way, that second thumb probably can't be convinced.
If you've seen an action movie within the last ten years, you're probably already familiar with Fuse's storyline. There's a well-funded Russian super villain, some alien technology being harnessed by humanity for evil, and a squad of underdogs that must overcome the odds. You get the idea; it's been stocked with all of your favorite blockbuster movie clichés.
Did I mention the robots? No? Well, it has robots.
However, as I pointed out in my preview, Fuse has an incredible level of complexity for a game that's essentially an interactive Michael Bay movie. While most developers primarily attempt to create a compelling single-player experience and then tack on a cooperative mode, Fuse has taken the opposite approach; the campaign was designed for a four-player team. However, this means that those of us who prefer to play video games alone in our underwear won't get to experience Fuse's full potential.
Throughout the campaign, you'll get acquainted with the game's four protagonists: Izzy, Jacob, Naya, and Dalton. Well, the word acquainted might be too strong, because you don't really learn much about them by way of backstory. Sure, there are snippets here and there, but Fuse clearly cares far more about explosions than character development.
The squad's weaponry, however, is practically dripping with testosterone. When Insomniac released the game's original trailer in 2011, the weapons definitely had the developer's trademark quirkiness, but they also felt a little bland. However, within the last two years, the game has undergone an incredible overhaul, and the weapons are at the heart of the reconstruction.
All of the characters are relatively similar to the 2011 incarnation, but their volume knobs have been turned past ten. In the original trailer, Naya was shown doling out a few broken necks while cloaked, and that's still within her realm of expertise, but in the current version, her cloak isn't nearly as powerful as her Warp Rifle, which charges into a swirling vortex and destroys any nearby enemies. Jason still has his crossbow, but now instead of simply electrifying the enemies, like in the 2011 trailer, they burst into flames and cause a chain reaction of destruction. Dalton's Mag Shield, which is primarily a defensive weapon, probably received the fewest number of changes, but its destruction has become far more violent. Izzy, though, had her weapon completely overhauled. In 2011, her gun shot blobs of liquid metal. Now, though, she has a weapon, called a Shatter Gun, that crystallizes enemies and lifts them out of cover.
She’s my favorite, obviously.
All of these weapons, which are actually more like super-human abilities, are powered by an alien element called Fuse. However, just like the characters, we never really learn anything about the element's backstory. I mean, we know that it's not from earth, and that it's incredibly powerful. Plus, at one point, we discover that it might be sentient, but that's it. By the end of the game, we still don't know what Fuse is and we never get to meet those aliens.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The addition of these Fuse-powered weapons raises the game's fun factor by at least ten points—at least that's what my math says.
If you've ever played Ratchet & Clank or Resistance, you probably won't be surprised when I tell you that Fuse's gameplay is practically flawless. Even the game's cover mechanic, which is unique for Insomniac, has obviously been very well refined. If you're playing alone, Insomniac has included a feature that allows you to jump between characters in real time. However, simply taking control over the characters doesn't always improve gameplay. It'll help you get out of several sticky situations, but the fun factor that I was just talking about is reduced significantly. Plus, toward the end, I was using the jump mechanic to simply switch to any character that had ammo left in his/her Fuse weapon, which means that ammo conservation is practically non-existent in a single-player campaign.
As you progress, the characters can use their skill points to level weapons and learn new abilities. Though, I must admit, the skill tree isn't as deep as I would have liked. Even after I managed to acquire enough skill points to complete a character's tree, their weaponry was disappointingly similar in function.
Aside from the campaign, Fuse also includes a game mode called Echelon. This is essentially a wave-based survival mode, which is a game type that we've been seeing a lot lately. However, Fuse's version is slightly different than its peers, because any experience that you gain while playing Echelon Mode can be transferred back into the campaign.