INTERVIEW l PREVIEW
Coming to 360 and PS3 l Published by EA l Developed by Insomniac Games l Classification TBA l Supports 1-8 players l Due to arrive March 2013
As I wandered over to the four player Fuse terminal, I quietly promised myself that I wasn’t going to be the weak link in this team based third person shooter. As long ranged weapons specialist Jacob Kimble, I would be responsible for thinning out opposition ranks long before we reached them and eliminating enemies perched high above the level. Obviously, my first priority was to gather intel for The Black Panel, but if I could do it without embarrassing myself, well, that would be a nice bonus. I materialised on a snow swept mountain road alongside my teammates. Seconds later, a sniper’s bullet tore through my head and I crumpled to the ground as the colour drained from the screen. Team healer Isabelle Sinclair rushed over to revive me for the first of many times.
I had the most fun when I combined my attacks with those of my squad mates.
We began our assault proper. A terrorist organisation known as Raven had holed up in a remote installation and we were determined to root them out. The simple and reliable cover system made negotiating the environment a breeze. I could crouch behind a barricade, pick off some advancing henchmen and then transition to another cover point with consummate ease. My principle weapon was a bow-like device powered by the mysterious substance known as Fuse. Whenever one of my bullets struck home, it would pin the enemy solider to the wall behind him. There, he would writhe in agony, before being consumed by fire.
The Raven forces, though largely generic in terms of visuals, threw a couple of curveballs our way. The most interesting was a quartet of shield carrying soldiers advancing in formation like a Roman phalanx. Only by subjecting them to sustained fire from a variety of angles were we able to make them break ranks. After a while, I was informed that I could activate a special ability, which I did… only to see my entire body engulfed in flames. I wasn’t too fussed, though, as the raging inferno actually granted me a limited form of invulnerability (don’t try this at home). I had the most fun when I combined my attacks with those of my squad mates. For instance, I would often advance behind the energy shield projected by team leader Dalton Brooks. This enabled me to pick off several intransigent foes without risking my own neck.
Not wanting to monopolise the controller, I reluctantly handed it over and stood back to watch. It wasn’t long before I realised that I had made two incorrect assumptions during my time with the game. My belief that I had been sharing the trenches with my fellow journalists was the first to be swept aside. In reality, the AI had been controlling my three teammates and I hadn’t even noticed the difference. And then it dawned on me. Every time I had been revived by a squad mate, I had shouted a brief “thanks” over the roar of explosions and gunfire. As soon as the humiliation of repeatedly expressing my gratitude to people who almost certainly didn’t know what I was talking about subsided, I concluded that this boded very well indeed for a game that required all four characters to be active regardless of how many players were signed in.
It felt more like an arcade set piece designed to be played over and over again than a unique single player experience.
The second assumption to be dragged kicking and screaming into extinction was my steadfast belief that I had been playing the Horde-like Echelon mode. Granted, it had been introduced to me as story content, but its enclosed nature and wave based structure had convinced me otherwise. It felt more like an arcade set piece designed to be played over and over again than a unique single player experience. Almost as soon as the EA rep set me straight, another couple of facts came to mind. The Echelon mode was to feature maps inspired by the story and any experience points earned or customisations unlocked would carry over from one mode to the other. Was there truly to be so little to differentiate the main campaign from the high score shenanigans of Echelon? Was this to be another Brink?
We still had a little time left with the game, so I seized the opportunity to test drive stealth specialist Naya Deveraux. While I couldn’t figure out how to activate the cloaking device, I had a great time with her signature weapon. This incredible gun projected a tiny singularity onto the battlefield. The closest target quickly vanished into its depths (never to return). A handful of nearby enemies were also drawn towards the black hole, but as soon as it closed, they were thrown backwards through the air like rag dolls. As these secondary victims struggled to regain their footing, I happily mowed them down.
My concerns regarding the structure of the single player campaign were tempered by several factors. The core gameplay felt smooth and intuitive, the arsenal varied and inventive, the AI convincing and reliable. As a taxi carried me away from the event, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the most crucial question of all had yet to be answered. Why did one of the NPCs look so much like Ronn Moss?
INTERVIEW l PREVIEW