The Real Gamers – Previously, we at TRG previewed Fuse’s demo and gave our impressions. We saw a ton of potential then and have now completed a few playthroughs, clocking over 40 hours of gametime in total. Did it meet our hopes and expectations?
Fuse is a game developed by Insomniac Games for release on May 28th, 2013 on XBOX 360 and PS3. It is a 3rd person sci-fi shooter with light platforming and is set in a future where “Fuse” is a substance that has mysterious qualities. It stars Dalton Brooks, Jacob Kimble, Isabelle “Izzy” Sinclair, and Naya Deveraux as the playable heroes who are a part of an elite team of black ops soldiers called Overstrike 9.
Now, with that out of the way, onto the business of being an army of 4.
Gameplay – 8.5 out of 10
There really aren’t any 3rd person or even first person shooters out there with the level of chaos that Fuse brings to the solar system. There are truly THOUSANDS of enemies that you’ll come across during the 7-10 hour adventure through jungles, futuristic military facilities, power plants, rocket launchpads, and even a few zero gravity space stations and satellites. Unfortunately, you don’t get to play in zero gravity since your space suits (or even plain clothes) have anti-gravity functions. At least the bodies and loose objects float away, though, sometimes annoyingly as they impede your aim.
While environments are of standard fare and combat exists in between some extremely throwaway platforming segments, the gunfights are a blast to take part in and offer some of the most frantic gameplay ever seen on a shooter. The organized chaos that occurs on your TV is one of Fuse’s shining points. While the dozens of onscreen enemies can feel a bit overwhelming, it doesn’t take a keen eye to figure out where to find cover to achieve success.
This leads to one of the game’s weakest points, though. It’s too damn easy. When played with friends or randoms online, dying rarely happens once the mechanics are learned moderately. The difference between “Normal” and “Hard” difficulty is barely noticeable and even “Lethal” isn’t terribly difficult to overcome, though that might be due to the skill level and upgrades acquired through extended play sessions. Once a character is upgraded to about level 25 to 30, the poorly conceived skill tree opens some incredibly useful techniques including “Fusion” which makes you invulnerable for a short time with infinite ammo for your Fuse weapon. Later upgrades cause a full revive to all team members, further inFuse(ing) a sense of being a beast for that time. Your teammates also receive infinite Fuse for that period. While these moments of Fusion are incredibly fun and even satisfying, they are too easily obtained with your Fusion gauge actually charging at a rate that allows 3 or more per mission and is the main reason that this game is so easy. Also, intelligent use of Dalton’s deployed Mag Shields and Izzy’s deployed med beacons are really all that is needed to find success.
To add some challenge, attempt this game alone. The AI for your partners isn’t TERRIBLE but it ultimately presents an added challenge since sometimes they indescribably ignore you to save their own skin, resulting in a game over screen after they fail to revive you. Also their use of Fusion is questionable and their support tactics leave a lot to be desired, though they are a competent help in gunfights and achieve a fair amount of kills themselves. This game is best served with humans and we recommend at least 3 or 4 for the hardest difficulty setting since computer companions can be frustrating in the more chaotic firefights. With other people, however, teamwork and comboing your fuse weapons is nothing short of exhilarating and verbal high fives will be exchanged in these moments. Whether in Echelon or Campaign, Fuse excels with a team of humans.
Oh, and you WILL die most often from the swarms of robotic bouncing betties known as seekers. That is a guarantee.
Fuse’s story is some of the most cliché sci-fi you’ll ever see, right down to cutting a high-ranking officials eyes out to gain access to the next area. It is EXTREMELY linear with no side paths to take, though the maps themselves are quite open and allow for many different approaches to encounters. But the narrative itself is rather bland; a series of radioed mission objectives walks you through a story about this squad of mercenaries who get more than they bargained for when investigating a military facility.
If not for the candid and at times brilliant dialog exchanges, the story would receive a 4 or worse. However, Dalton’s witty one-liners provide entertainment that will have players laughing even after a 2nd or 3rd time hearing them. The banter is expounded with Jacob’s “buddy” relationship with the main protagonist and some of Izzy and Naya’s input entertains as well. The writing, while not superb, offers plenty of entertainment during the downtimes and even some battles, adding spice to an otherwise cookie cutter story.
Graphics – 6 out of 10
The visuals are nothing special to behold and many of the special effects are average, at best. Explosions look like fire but fail to resonate as anything special. Cutscenes aren’t spectacular and oftentimes are just an action scene that looks unpolished. Character models are nothing spectacular, though the movements are quite fluid with little to no collision issues. The style of the art itself is that of a live action cartoon, which is a good thing. It fits the arcadey gameplay nicely and never seems silly or uninteresting.
Audio – 5 out of 10
The sound effects are to be expected. Futuristic gun sounds accompany your Fuse weapon shots and special effects and modern gun sounds fit the weapons they are attached to. Sound effects, overall, don’t stand out but the voice chat is excellent with no broken voices or noticeable delay. The music is almost non-existent; a score that befits sci-fi action as well as the visuals do.
Fuse had interesting gameplay, most of the game it was mainly battle after battle, not to mention that the story had not much of a plot, no twist, and besides 10 seconds of level two, no real depth in the lives of Naya, Jacob, Isabelle (Izzy), or Dalton. What I can say about Fuse is that the gameplay was alright, I loved the epic battles and giant robots that you battle in these areas of the game. I never found any part of the game truly hard unless you talk about the lethal difficulty which to my understanding was like playing any other game on a hard difficulty, not to mention the lag you get sometimes.
My favorite part about this game was that you had to use teamwork especially on lethal. You need to revive and cover each other, combos are another key factor when playing on the same team. Especially when playing Echelon (which is like online horde mode for Fuse) you have to play together and cooperate. Even when using weapons, you should combine weapon attacks to do great amounts of damage on multiple enemies.
Overall Fuse was a great game with not much to do during the campaign, but its a great game to play when I’m bored, and honestly I wouldn’t run to the controller and play.
TRG Final verdict – 7 out of 10
A great arcadey action game that can be loads of fun with companions but falls short of greatness even then. For those that like intense action and hilarious dialog, it’d be well worth your money to pick this up and well worth any gamer’s money who is looking for a fast paced experience to satiate a hunger for over the top gunplay with a comedic edge. It did fall short of our hopes after the demo, however, and we are eager to see what Insomniac’s next entry into this series will improve upon.