Oh this one hurts my stomach. I see MASSIVE potential in this game but whether it is realized or contains enough depth to achieve the greatness it seems to tease is a question that will be answered in due time (likely around the 28th of May). Fuse is an up to 4-player cooperative third person shooter with light platforming elements. AI handles empty party slots, sometimes better than their human counterparts in my experience with the demo.
The concept itself has been done before but what stands out in Fuse are tight controls that compliment its arcadey gameplay. Running, getting into cover, shooting from cover, your weapons’ special features and attacks, all of it flows together seamlessly and at a fast pace.
4 players getting together in a fully cooperative campaign isn’t exactly ingenious but it is a largely untapped approach in game design. A few years back it looked as though more and more games would emphasize cooperative play but very few have delved into this gold mine of a playground. Fuse seems poised to hit the motherlode and, all things considered from the demo, it appears Insomniac has a hit on their hands. That is ONLY if they manage to keep the depth of character progression high and fit it into the gameplay with fluidity.
Many pitfalls can be foreseen here and the question as to whether Fuse hops over them or falls into them is an answer that can only be revealed in the final version. The skill trees seem to be interesting but largely unnecessary which can be a definite drawback given the demo’s low difficulty. One can only assume there will be harder difficulties that require some of the menial upgrades presented in this first look. One can hope.
The story itself takes on a light but fierce tone. The dialog is humorous and interesting, inciting a laugh or two for the brief few exchanges that hit your ears. The characters seem quite distinct in personality, though a bit cookie-cutter in their design. Your token black dude with a snide attitude, the overzealous “Chris Redfield” tough guy, female heroine, you get the idea. Not a whole lot of character progression is possible in such a constricted sampling but therein lies another possibly untapped area of polishing.
The combat itself seems varied enough. Sure, you’re just shooting bad guys from rather generic cover positions but tactical co-op opportunites can be found. For example, dropping a health beacon behind some cover allows for some mid-battle rendevous. One character can throw up a stationary shield which can protect that spot. Another character has some support skills that allow for increased firepower if teammates are close. When fighting the two robo-bosses, flanking can come into play, drawing enemy fire while some heavy hitters attack their spinal weak spot. Of course this is all a moot point in the demo since running from cover to cover or even blindfiring without any tactics whatsoever can still achieve victory rather easily.
Platforming cooperatively can be fun if those types of things are implemented properly. This brief look at Fuse did not reveal any places where the platforming extended beyond “climb this, stand here, hold triangle with a friend here” which is fine but, again, there is untapped potential. Here’s hoping we get some sequences where having a human friend is necessary to complete a puzzle or graduate to the next area in some way.
The fun that can be had in Fuse is undeniable. Repeatedly playing this demo isn’t something that will be high on many peoples’ priority lists but the content shown hints it the possibility of an enormously fun co-op shooter. Either Insomniac put together the perfect teaser or they missed the boat on a fantastic concept and we still have 2 weeks (or some shoddily done pre-released reviews by distinguished websites) to find out.
Stay tuned to TRG for our very first “cooperative review” (feature title pending) on Fuse when it hits store shelves in a couple of weeks (or sooner if Insomniac honors our review copy request).