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Fuse is an interesting co-op shooter with powerful and highly responsive weapons, complex characters and a promising co-operative play system but the experience itself doesn’t overly impress due to a repetitive gameplay structure and a lacking story.
Previously Insomniac Games, the developers of Fuse, has worked on the Ratchet and Clank series which contains much adult humor while mixing it with slapstick comedy. In this title, however, the comedy is within the characters’ weaknesses and dislikes. Dalton (the team leader) for example, is the stereotypical soldier you see in video games but along with that Insomniac has found a way to make fun of this typical cliché through a little personality. He tends to hate cats which is mentioned quite often on a side note and he would probably kill one if given the chance. His teammates, in result to this, like to make fun out of him for these traits and this ends up with some laugh out loud moments.
Despite the comedic twists in the narrative, there are some really grim backstories for these characters and rather than having them as generic Call of Duty like soldiers, Overstrike’s cast of mercenaries feel much more human because of their backgrounds. These well thought out characters, however, are plagued by the simplistic plot.
In this game, you will play as the agents of Overstrike, a misfit mercenary group set to follow the orders of their clients. During this mission set by the CIA, it is their task to neutralize/steal a material known as Fuse, an unearthed alien technology which could begin an arms race. On their way to finding the Fuse material, Overstrike face a rogue paramilitary company called Raven, who are out to steal it as well. Throughout this daring mission, Overstrike constantly tries to chase after the Fuse material which could threaten the whole world.
While the plotline is somewhat simplistic, the emphasis of Fuse is within the characters, whom have inner struggles they have to face and triumph over. The story, however, isn’t deep enough to support the potential character development this game is craving for. They never become jeopardized, threatened or saddened by the events that take place which can be quite jarring from time to time.
Although the plotline suffers from a lack of oomph, Fuse exhibits a grand amount of potential within its gameplay mechanics except for its repetitive structure. Fuse is a 4-Player Co-Op based shooter with each character having their own different weapons called Xenotech and specific abilities. Dalton can shield his teammates with the Magshield which can both be a weapon and deployable asset. Izzy uses the Shattergun, enabling her to freeze enemies for a few seconds. She also has a medic beacon, which creates a small area for healing her allies from being knocked down or slightly injured. Jason has a crossbow that fires enflamed bolts and can cluster on to other enemies around the shot ammunition. Last is Naya who can make use of the Warp Rifle and ripple enemies into a vortex. Her second ability allows her to be cloaked and move around the battle area undetected. The outrageously cool Xenotech weapons and character abilities, overall, complement each other very well and give some interesting effects to the battlefield. For example, Dalton can protect Jacob as he shoots from long range with the crossbow. Meanwhile, Izzy can deploy a medic beacon on the two men while Naya attacks shielded enemies from behind.
Plenty of strategies can be created with these skills in place but Insomniac unfortunately have failed the player in Fuse’s most important moments by using bosses that are simply sponge bullets until they die. Sure, there are weak points but none of these boss battles demand strategy. You simply need to stay alive while shooting many rounds at the enemy. Plus, within Fuse, the player is forced into situations of room after room, with hordes of enemies ready to stand in your way for 80% of the game. Insomniac do try to throw in a few new enemy types every once in a while but they do not come as often as you would hope. It is worth playing Fuse for the other 20% of the game, on the other hand, as there are some incredible moments in the game. For example, Overstrike is forced to face an onslaught of enemies from all sides while they are on dangling platform in the middle of a majestic snowy mountain range. You also should play Fuse for the computer’s artificial intelligence as you face difficult battles on your way. Enemies react to what is happening on the battlefield and will change position if the action becomes too intense for them. While not recommended to play Fuse by yourself, I also applaud the artificial intelligence of Overstrike’s team mates, who are 80% of the time by your side. Izzy, for example, will place a med beacon down if the team is really struggling and by any chance if you get knocked out, they will come to your aid. Keep in mind though that there have been instances of characters being stuck on walls which stops them from coming to your rescue but this happens irregularly.
Weapons, ever since Ratchet and Clank, have been a huge part of the Insomniac formula and Fuse has definitely lived up to the company’s name. As previously stated, the Xenotech weapons add an interesting dynamic to the battlefield with their various effects but Fuse also has the common assortment of weapons such as snipers, pistols, assault rifles, sub machine guns, and shotguns. All of these weapons feel and sound powerful to use while easy to handle well on screen. The player, in addition to that, will receive visual feedback from a shotgun as the enemy falls to the ground or staggers in a realistic fashion.
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