Insomniac Games has been known to produce some wildly imaginative and creative games: Resistance and Ratchet & Clank, among other series. Insomniac have partnered with Electronic Arts to release their first multiplatform game for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. For some this would mark the first time playing anything from such an accomplished studio, while others would already know the level of games that have been released in the past. But would this mean that their latest release, Fuse, would be met at such a level of quality?
The story of Fuse begins with the playable group of characters called “Overstrike.” After receiving a message that a facility has been under attack, the team is sent in to investigate. They soon find that the facility, which is said to be researching an alternative fuel source, is actually producing weapons based on a new substance called Fuse. This gets the attention of the Raven Corporation, as they attempt to steal these new weapons. From here, the team will travel to different locations and battle different foes ranging from large mechanical robots to the regular stereotypical enemies along the way.
The story of Fuse is, unfortunately, not its strong suit. As you play each level, it almost comes to the point during which most of the bosses or main enemies are almost throwaway characters; a bit surprising, as Insomniac has made some spectacular story-based games.
The characters of Fuse: Dalton Brooks, Jacob Kimble, Naya Deveraux and Isabelle “Izzy” Sinclair, each bring their own special unique ability. Dalton creates a shield that will provide cover for his team and deal damage from a powerful blow; Jacob carries a fuse-empowered crossbow that shoots high powered bolts; Naya will be able to cloak herself for stealth kills; and Isabelle has a fuse powered gun that crystallizes enemies. Insomniac have always been known for their crazy and interesting weapons, and Fuse attempts to continue this. This is not to say that the weapons are uninteresting, as the complement each other very well, but they aren’t as imaginative as we’ve seen in their past games.
Fuse plays like a typical third-person cover shooter. You take cover from enemies and move from cover to cover. The shooting is functional and solid, and at times you can even chain kills. Teamwork has never been more vital in a game, and it shows. If you get together a group that really works together, there almost isn’t anything that can really that can stop you. The characters control in a somewhat stiff movement that will take a bit to get used too. At times it was hard to navigate small spaces and corners. Enemies will also take cover and attempt to take you down; however most will merely become a bullet sponge, as you continue to shoot them, waiting for their health to run out. There are moments of platforming, jumping from ledge to ledge to break up parts of the game.
You can change characters at will, which stands out as a very interesting aspect of Fuse.
There is the story-based campaign, which you can play solo, play with online friends or play with random co-op partners. There is also Echelon mode, which acts as the “horde” mode of the game. Here you will play on a map with different sections, with your commander delegating saying different objectives every round. Insomniac did not include the standard multiplayer mode. Those looking for their online “Deathmatch” fix need look elsewhere.
Throughout each of these different modes, you will obtain experience points and Fuse credits. You can use these to either upgrade your abilities, through a skill tree, purchase different team perks, or purchase different costumes. Strangely, the skill tree will only raise your status a seemingly small amount; however, I found some of the abilities to be invaluable, including Izzy’s healing and resurrection abilities.
The look of Fuse leaves something to be desired. Character models, while not terrible, are not that impressive either. Most enemies will be the same generic masked enemies from room to room. Even the environments will look a bit displeasing at times. Considering their grand and colorful past games, Fuse looks like Insomniac’s graphics engine has taken a step back with its bland, sometimes low-res textures and environments.
Glitches create problems, too. Stealth kills sometimes show an enemy not being properly aligned with my character, which made for awkward animations. The game makes it a staple that all team members must be present to move forward, as most squad shooters do. However, when playing solo, AI controlled members do not move toward the objective marker, forcing the player to take control manually to move them forward. Also, whenever myself or other characters would become incapacitated, AI characters would sometimes walk past and not resuscitate teammates. If you choose to play Fuse, play it with human co-op partners.
Fuse is an OK game, but that’s it; it’s OK. With the fantastic games Insomniac have done before, it seems like the studio strayed from anything different or overly outrageous, which is what I believe they are truly good at. I can understand the world they have tried to set for Fuse, but I wish they would have done something to set the game apart — besides the weapons. There’s nothing overly epic or spectacular about Fuse, and after a while, you will pretty much see almost what the entire game has to offer. While it is a functional shooter and the co-op can be fun at times, the forgettable story, as well as the boring characters and sometimes boring gameplay, may not warrant a purchase.
Fuse gets a 6/10
(This review can also be found at ThreeTallNerds.com)