There’s something fitting about Fuse as Insomniac’s newest IP. With the studio’s penchant for inventive weapons and their experience with a mature-themed shooters, ‘Fuse’ is not only the name of the sought-after substance in the game’s story, it also represents the, if you will, fusion of those two sensibilities from Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series.
Fuse features a cooperative mechanic that I wish would be standard in squad-based shooters: the ability to jump into the shoes any AI-controlled character should you not have a foursome of human players. This kind of control teleportation isn’t only executed well, Insomniac does a good job in incentivizing this behavior.
Each of your squad’s Overstrike operatives are equipped with different kinds of Fuse-enhanced weapons, each with their own unique features, like melting enemies, vaporizing them, or sucking them into black holes. These benefits are compounded when combined with your squad mates’ weapons and abilities. Every kill yields experience, and the kills that are chained or collaborative are the ones that yield the most experience points.
Fuse is worth a look if you’re generally a fan of cover-based shooters. The first two levels of the campaign echo the boxy level designs of the first Gears of War, just without the dark and gritty art direction. With a similar cover system, moving around and surviving in Fuse feels easy to do, while not having that weighted feel of the football player physiques of the characters from Gears. Lastly, Fuse follows Gears’ multi-act campaign structure, where there are only a handful of missions, but each can last as long as 90 minutes.
Fuse also features a non-story multiplayer mode that pits the same squad of four characters against 12 waves of enemies. Dubbed “Echelon Mode”, this area is where you would go to round off your characters’ stats and abilities. The modest selection of six maps can get old quickly, though the moderate difficulty of Echelon at least ensures you will have earned your way through the 12 waves.
Since you can earn the majority of the skills in a single campaign playthrough for all four characters, the incentive to replay the story, as well as Echelon, is notably diminished. Unlockable squad team upgrades and costumes can only go so far.
At least the Overstrike squad is likable as an ensemble of mostly all-business operatives. The group shows some remnants of the light-hearted tone from the game’s original E3 2011 introduction, when it was called Overstrike. Furthermore, the game’s most gratifying moments come from playing around with all the Fuse-enhanced firearms and trying to pull off chain kills. If you enjoy Insomniac’s games specifically for the imagination they put into their weaponry, you won’t be disappointed with Fuse. Just don’t expect a lot of replay value.
(Note: This review was based of a complete playthrough of the game’s story mode and all six Echelon Mode maps. Copies of the game were provided by EA for review purposes.)
Developer: Insomniac Games
Published: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Released: May 28, 2013