Fuse Hands-On Preview – Four-Way Fusion
Written Thursday, October 25, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
We had grand plans for our first look preview of Fuse. It was to be an in-depth piece about the game's characters, weapons and game mechanics. It was supposed to be a sweeping epic, a journalistic masterpiece... Then Insomniac went and released an 18-minute trailer showing off practically everything we saw at the EA Showcase last week. Dammit! Presto change-o then, and this preview will now be purely focused on our hands-on impressions of Fuse. It'll also be considerably shorter and more succinct, which is good, right?
First, a quick overview. Fuse is the new name for Overstrike, Insomniac's first multi-platform endeavour having been PS3-exclusive with the Ratchet & Clank series. It's a story-driven third-person shooter that revolves around 4-player co-op, and each character has their own backstory, motivations and unique Fuse-imbued weapon. You're team Overstrike-9, sent into a top secret government facility that's gone quiet, where you discover that dodgy research into an alien substance named fuse has been secretly conducted for years.
This is where each character obtains their own fuse weapon, granting them individual abilities that can be combined to devastating effect. Picking up the controller to infiltrate a heavily guarded courtyard leading into a Hyperion (yes, Hyperion) base, we come up against Raven mercenaries looking to get their hands on fuse for their own nefarious ends. It's our job to stop them, so playing as ex-LAPD cop Jacob Kimble with our buddies, Dalton Brooks (the tank class), Izzy Sinclair (the stealthy one) and Naya Deveraux (the assassin) in tow, we get things started by firing off one of the bolts from our arcshot crossbow.
Each weapon has its own secondary fire, so Jacob is able to impale enemies with bolts – pinning them to the wall in some instances – before setting them alight. Should Izzy freeze and lift enemies in glittering black crystalline structures using her shattergun, you can chain together shattering kills to earn fuse points for you and your team. Do that through Dalton's magshield, and you can earn even more fuse points to distribute amongst your squad. This is but one example of how you can combine the fuse properties of your weaponry. Fuse points can be used to unlock new abilities and upgrades in your skill trees. In our demo, these combined abilities come into their own.
Fuse is a cover-based shooter, and as such, using cover is vital (obviously). It's also the kind of co-op shooter where teamwork and communication is pretty important. When you're downed, you need reviving quickly as a single death will wipe the whole team out. You can easily swap between cover, and playing as Jacob, we're able to exploit his long range sniping skills to rack up a few headshots for bonus fuse points. Plugging several enemies and then simultaneously burning them up with the touch of a button is also a sure-fire way to rack up the fuse point combos and build your devastating Fusion ability, which enables you to really let loose and unleash the raw power of your fuse arsenal.
Playing solo, you're able to seamlessly 'LEAP' (Fuse's fancy buzzword for swap) between characters, with the AI taking care of the ones you're not controlling. Fuse is a game that'll almost certainly be more fun playing with three friends though, as the abilities have been smartly designed to play off one another. Blasting through enemy troopers, shutting down laser barriers, manning turret emplacements and fighting a nimble robot boss character has convinced us that Insomniac has got the gameplay mechanics pretty much right on the money, and the 4-player co-op action is immensely enjoyable.
It might have shifted in tone since it was known as Overstrike, with the banter and humour reined in somewhat, but there's a pleasing chunkiness to the game and its robust gameplay, that it stands every chance of being something genuinely appealing and interesting. Quite whether Fuse can do more to innovate beyond the potential offered by its experimental fuse weaponry however (there are standard weapons too, by the way), is another question entirely. One thing is for certain: Insomniac knows its shooter onions, which should hopefully stand Fuse in good stead.
Fuse is due to launch sometime in 2013.