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FUSE Review

There was a lot of hype around Insomniac Games’ first multiplatform title and a lot of irritation and disappointment with singing with EA as its publisher for FUSE. Once called Overstrike the reveal trailer showcased unique weaponry and snarky characters fighting against a bunch of members from a paramilitary group. The third-person shooter was a break away from their typical 3D Action Platformer series Ratchet and Clank as well as their gritty retelling of World War 2, Resistance. It I somewhat unclear why Insomniac Games made this move, even after playing FUSE I am unsure why they made the choices that they did.

 

FUSE_04_jetpackA mercenary group known as Overstrike 9 has been dispatched to carry out an objective that is somewhat mysterious. Due to some complication, Overstrike 9 mistakenly allows paramilitary group Raven get their hands on a strain of weaponized Fuse. Fuse is pure energy that was under research by a third party until Raven got their hands on it. Overstrike 9 consists of four members, Dalton Brooks, Naya Deveraux, Isabelle Sinclair, and Jacob Kimble. Due to their unique talents, they are the agents needed to stop Raven from destroying the world with weapons of mass destruction powered by corrupted Fuse. The story of FUSE is a lot like their RaC series, straightforward and filled with character development. Much of FUSE is about the interaction between Overstrike 9 and Fable who is leader of Raven. Things get a bit tense because Dalton actually worked for Raven. What I like about the story are the characters because they help make the game interesting. Barring some of the gameplay flaws I have noticed.

 

FUSE is a very simple game, almost too simple. While it makes up in visual uniqueness the game feels scaled down to appeal to a wider audience. The level design is very average. Scripted fights are forseeable and it is a shame. Some fights seem to last forever and other seems to be too short. There are moments of possible stealth but due to the enemy placement, you will take down about four enemies then just go all out in a firefight. This is a game filled with chest high walls.  A gameplay/level design feature greatly popularized by Epic Games’ overrated franchise, Gears of War. FUSE has a lot of similarities to Gears of War. The chest high walls, regenerating health, limited weapon capacity, and linear level design are all products that FUSE and Gears of War share. What makes FUSE good and Gears of War bad are the lack of immature gratuitous violence with good character development and story progression done by someone who knows how to write fiction.

 

FUSE_03_spaceThe lack of unique weaponry is a shocker to an Insomniac Games title. They have always done what they can to give the player a unique sense of variety when playing their games as of late. Ratchet and Clank has always had fun weapons to use and Resistance showed their creativity with alien guns. They have your bases covered in a very boring way in FUSE. You have your burst fire rifle, assault rifle, pistol, shotgun SMG, and sniper. Occasionally you get to mount a turret or use a flamethrower but it all just feels bland. Much of the fun comes from the Fuse weapon each of the characters use. Dalton has the Mag Shield, Jacob has the Arcshot, Naya uses the Warp Rifle, and Izzy uses the Scattergun. These weapons are all very different and interact with each other in very different ways. The Mag Shield obviously shields against bullets and repels them against enemies. Also, shooting fuse weapons from behind the shield increase their power. The Arcshot is a crossbow firing Fuse arrows that are capable of bursting into flames on the target and enemies close. The Scattergun fires crystalized rounds to raise an enemy into the immobile and defenseless. The Warp rifle fires a stream of bullets that will trigger a black hole when a target has taken enough damage, this will chain if multiple people are afflicted with the Warp Rifle rounds. All of the Fuse weapons can interact with each other to create large combos that devastate groups of enemies. This is the main selling point of FUSE. These are the unique weapons we should have throughout the game but sadly, they are the only ones you get.

 

In an attempt to increase replay value there are numerous skills to purchase with skill points earned from leveling up. These range from Fuse weapon enhancements, to character enhancements, even the better performance of regular weapons. As you kill enemies either with regular weapons or fuse weapons (you get more exp by killing with Fuse weapons) you will gain experience and eventually level up. There are also Fuse Credits, money obtained in 500 point increments to purchase team skills that affect everyone. This could be better armor or higher magazine capacity, either way; the skills are vastly overpriced for what you earn. You can only pick up Fuse credits and trust me; they don’t feel like they add up.

 

FUSE_01_jod_lutherBecause Co-Op is the theme of the game, FUSE should be played with friends. Playing this game alone is alright at first you have the ability to switch control easily and quickly but even then, it kind of takes away from the game a bit. There is a mode that resembles Horde mode from Gears of War that is pointless to play alone. Something else they seem to have taken from a game that somehow gained praise from critics. The multiplayer focus is something they tried with RaC: A4O but it worked in the Ratchet game really well. It does not feel so fleshed out and focused on in FUSE.

 

Quite frankly, there is a lot of FUSE I do not like. The game has too much in common with modern game mechanics that are currently ruining the industry and I was hoping to see a game that stood out as much as Resistance 3. The game is still far more challenging compared to other TPS titles like the recent Ghost Recon or Gears of War Judgment the game feels too easy and it almost plays itself. The characters and story are both naturally funny at times but it can be serious when it needs to be. I enjoy the art style as well. It doesn’t feel so…steroid infused gray, if that makes any sense.

 

I see what Insomniac Games tried to do, but they let the game be influenced by the wrong role model. FUSE is by no means bad, but maybe the hype was too much to deliver on. The game is still more fun than TPS games on the market currently like Resident Evil 6, Gears Judgment, and Ghost Recon. I give FUSE an 8/10. What saved it was the story, characters, and art direction. The Fuse weapons also made combat feel somewhat varied for how scripted the fights were. FUSE is a good game, but it won’t be revitalizing the shooter genre.

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