Fuse is the first title from Insomniac Games that is being released on multiple-platforms as opposed to the company’s history with being a Sony exclusive development studio. Insomniac Games decided to create a co-operative shooter for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 that incorporates well-known elements from 3rd-person shooters such Gears of War, Uncharted and the inclusion of their own flavor of weaponry as they have always done in the past with Ratchet and Clank series and the Resistance franchise.
How does this new cooperative experience and 3rd-person shooter fare against the current competition in this ever-populated world of action games? Read on to know.
Insomniac Games was always brilliant at presenting their games when it comes to characters, universe and the storyline itself. The game’s most strongest point in its presentation are undoubtedly the four main characters themselves, Dalton, Izzy, Jacob and Naya.
The four individuals are supported by fantastic voice acting and intriguing backstories. The relationship between them throughout the game is quite appealing. From time to time you’ll hear them talk smack to each other, find someone to blame and so on. Insomniac did a terrific job at delivering believable characters that you actually want to care for.
The story of the game is not all that original, it has been done before, and it’s nothing crazy. However, the main plot-line does work for what the game tries to achieve, thanks to the gameplay elements and the characters themselves that make the entire play-through of Fuse dynamic and entertaining. The team of four is also known as Overstrike 9. As they set out to retrieve Fuse, things start to become more complicated than they actually are, and that is where everything starts to change, and the whole mission turns into a whole different deal.
My biggest grip with Fuse’s story is that you’re trying to retrieve something that doesn’t belong to Earth, but there are no sights or rumors of aliens anywhere and instead you’re fighting an evil corporation that threatens the world with extinction. I don’t mind killing evil corporations, but I do mind that we don’t get to see what the aliens are or where Fuse originally came from. It’s almost like you are just being thrown in the middle of it without knowing what’s truly going on, and that is unfortunate.
The gameplay in Fuse consists of three main elements which are the skill trees/leveling, team perks and the weapons themselves. Insomniac Games have developed a well-designed gameplay system in place that supports the play-style of Fuse in a particularly enjoyable way. It’s a mix of RPG elements, weaponry and shooting that creates one giant cohesive cooperative experience.
Overstrike 9 is equipped with four unique fuse powered weapons and special abilities. Each weapon and ability is exclusive to one of the characters. Dalton uses a Magshield that is able to protect you from incoming bullets and explosions, however this uses fuse energy as the shield absorbs more and more damage. Dalton is also able to trigger a Fuse wave with his Magshield as an offensive tactic to knock enemies back or even kill them up-close and personal.
Izzy has a Shattergun that fires an element that freezes enemies in a rock-like formation. The upgraded version is eventually going to be able to freeze up to three enemies at once if they’re close to each other. After the enemies are frozen, you can pull out a regular gun or throw a grenade to kill them all at once and break the shards. Izzy’s unique ability is a healing beacon that can be thrown anywhere on the ground and heal your teammates in a proximity radius.
Naya is able to go invisible and sneak up on enemies with stealth kills. You can keep using invisibility until you run out of Fuse ammo and have to restock. Her exclusive gun is the Warp Rifle that is somewhat similar to the Shattergun but still different. Fire enough warp rifle bullets and the enemy will explode and taking others with him if they’re also effect by the warp bullets.
Last but not least, Jacob has an Arcshot that looks like a crossbow and fires devastating Fuse bolts that can impale enemies on the walls and do a ton of damage. The unique ability allows him to ignite the Fuse bolts with a charge that creates an area of effect damage and also stuns enemies in place.
All in all, Insomniac Games did an excellent job at creating unique abilities and weaponry for each of our four heroes making the cooperative play a lot more fun and engaging.
Overstrike 9 is also able to level up by playing the two different modes in the game. Each character has a skill tree that increases their health points, damage on weapons, and upgrades the exclusive weapons and abilities. The funny thing about the skill tree is that there is no right or wrong way of choosing what you want. By the time you’re on a 3rd or 4th playthrough in the game, your characters should reach max level, which is 35.
At level 35, the players are able to max out every single slot in the skill tree for each character, which essentially means there is no tactical choice when it comes to what skill the player should select to level up. That is not necessary an awful thing because this game is not an RPG; instead it’s actually designed like this in order to be able to progress through harder difficulties and be able to beat Echelon mode maps with 12 stars.
You can earn experience for your characters by playing the Campaign mode solo or online and Echelon mode which I will talk about later in the review. Insomniac made leveling fun by providing players with killing enemies a certain way, using Fuse weapons, collecting items and so on. For example, you’ll get more points for killing your enemy with a headshot rather than a regular body kill. Using a Fuse weapons will grant you more points than using a regular weapon such as the Harbinger (Sniper), Prowler (Shotgun), Savager (Assault Rifle), Daybreaker (Burst Assault Rifle), Dragonfly (Automatic Pistol) or the Guardian (Very powerful single-shot Pistol).
Completing missions objectives, collecting Fuse cell items, finding secret hidden Intel data and so on will grant you experience points. At the start of the game, you will level up quickly, but as you get further along in the levels it will start to slow down the process due to the amount of experience required to level up to the next level. If you’re planning on achieving maximum levels for every character then be prepared to play the Campaign 2-3 more times or farm Echelon mode with your buddies or by-yourself.
In Fuse, you can also collect something called ‘Fuse Credits’ that allow you to buy team perks. You can equip up to four different team perks at a time, one perk on each character. There are a total of 16 different team perks to buy and upgrade. For example; if you want to level up quick you can buy the perk that increases your experience earned percentage, you can also upgrade that perk 2 more times for a maximum increase of 10% extra leveling experience.
Other perks also range from earning more credits per Fuse credit pickup, increased damage radius on grenades, more health for the entire team and many more. Team Perks is a smart system that makes your overall team build more powerful. However, I was able to beat Lethal mode (Hardest campaign difficulty in the game that can only be unlocked by playing Hard difficulty first) without actually using any extra damage perks. All I had equipped was level experience percentage increase, fuse credits increase and increased damage radius for grenades that just increases the radius but not the damage itself by a small amount.
The Shooting and Cover Mechanics
The core of the game is obviously the shooting and the cover mechanics. If you have played Uncharted or Gears of War, then there is not much new to learn here. It’s the same good old deal, stay in cover, blind fire if you need to, pop your head out and shoot, get back in cover and revive your teammates if necessary.
For the majority of the time, the A.I bots are actually smart and will help you in battle if you’re down and need to be revived. There are times when they get a bit stupid, but for the most part, they do an admirable job. Once you learn the enemy types, strengths/weaknesses of each character, get used to cover mechanics and the weapons then you should be doing well. I died more playing on Hard rather than Lethal, but that’s because I’ve had zero experience when I first started playing the game and my team was also a lot less powerful.
The boss fights in the game are fun and can be challenging, but they’re not that innovating or anything unique. Shoot the weak spots on your enemies, stay in cover, attack when possible and rinse and repeat until the boss is dead.
The actual fights in the game with enemies can prove to be more difficult than the boss fight themselves due to the enemy combination and the environment layout. Overall, the shooting and cover gameplay in Fuse is nothing we haven’t done or seen before, Gears of War was the first game that introduced this type of gameplay and most titles are influenced by it and decided to make something else out of it. Fuse does its own unique thing with distinctive character abilities, weapons and combines elements from previous games to create its own personal gameplay experience.
This is the mode where players will spend a majority of their time after beating the campaign mode several times. Echelon is a mode where you can play different maps, each map has a unique environment and mid-level boss encounters during the 6th and the final 12th wave. Each map has up to 12 waves that you have to survive and each one of that has some sort of objective. The objectives can range from protecting a fuse cell, moving a fuse cell from one zone to another, killing all the enemies, securing a weapon cache and so on. If you like fast paced action, a lot of experience points and faster way to earn credits then this is the way to go.
However, I highly recommend you play this mode with your buddies instead of A.I due to the fact it actually requires a lot more cooperation than Campaign mode. Once you’re finished with playing an Echelon map, you get a final star rating and the maximum you can get is five stars. Getting the highest rating is not that hard, all it requires is primarily finishing all the 12 waves. If your team dies or fails an objective in one of the waves you have to start over. Echelon Mode is a pleasant break from the campaign and offers a much faster and more challenging gameplay for players.
Trophies in Fuse are fun and basic for the most part. Most of them are story related such as beating every single mission in the game, completing the game and beating the game on Lethal difficulty. Other trophies ask you to buy a team perk, level up a team perk to a maximum level, get all 16 team perk and level up all the 16 different team perks to the highest level possible.
In Fuse, the players can also collect secret Intel that gives the users additional information on the background story of the game and collecting them all will grant you a trophy.
There are also Echelon Mode trophies that require you to beat every map with two or more players with a 5 star rating, which is not that difficult. Overall the trophies in Fuse are pretty decent, they certainly make you play the game to its fullest potential and try your patience.
Insomniac Games have advertised Fuse as a unique cooperative experience and the game undeniably delivers on that front. However, it’s not that amazing, and there is nothing groundbreaking that we haven’t seen before. Insomniac is known for innovation with their previous titles, and we can tell easily tell that they tried to put their magic into Fuse.
Meanwhile, it does a decent job as a 3rd-person shooter, but the dated animations, dinky sounds can hamper the overall experience of the game. The variety of enemies in Fuse is also lacking. For 80% of the game you will be fighting you’re regular ground forces grunts with occasional mini-bosses that are repeated throughout numerous points in the game. The game packs only six missions, so the experience is also not particularly long either.
Once you have beaten the game for the first or second time you will fly through the missions like a bullet. I appreciate what Insomniac Games has tried to do with this game, but quite frankly it’s a bit disappointing because it doesn’t truly wow me in any way like their previous games.
Throughout the game, I was also faced with strange glitches, such as constant repeating sound looping, buggy deaths where I actually wasn’t supposed to be dead, and even boss fight bugs where the fight ended after I got the boss to halfway of his health. This surprised me because I don’t remember Insomniac Games having so many weird glitches in their past titles. They’re not deal-breaking, but they can be quite annoying, especially when you’re finishing up a boss fight and it glitches on you at the last second.
Overall, I commend Insomniac Games for trying something new and different from most 3rd-person shooters. I think the leveling system, team perks, and Echelon Mode are terrific additions and make this game stand out from others. However, at it’s core it’s a typical generic third-person shooter that doesn’t feel that much different from anything we have played in the past.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Good gameplay systems such as leveling, team perks and individual skill trees, cover and shooting mechanics work well, good cooperative experience, Echelon Mode is fun, like-able characters, unique weapons and abilities work well together.
Feels generic, story is nothing new, boring variety of enemies, frame-rate issues, dated graphics, weird glitches, some sound effects are strange, soundtrack is seriously lacking.