Available on 360 and PS3 l Published by EA l Developed by Insomniac Games l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1-4 players
REVIEW IN BRIEF > This is a game that makes you want to wait for the sequel. It has the ideas, it has the mechanics, but the whole thing feels underdone. From its espionage characters that do nothing more than shoot things to its over reliance on four player weapon combos, Fuse never hits the highs promised in the pre-release. If you do sink some time into it, you’ll probably grow to like the Echelon mode or the upgraded Fuse powers or the epic mech boss battles. Just make sure you bring your friends along for the ride.
REVIEW IN FULL > Taking into account that Fuse was heavily promoted as a cooperative game, The Black Panel decided one opinion simply wasn’t enough and so Peter Nickless and Mathew Hewson have both taken on the trenches of Insomniac’s latest title. They’ve fought through fire and flames to bring this report to the readers, but be warned, things aren’t always pretty.
Matt: So going into Fuse I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, having played about two hours of the game at a preview event. My main concern was that it wouldn’t have enough variety to hold my attention for the whole game and that the entire thing felt very bland. Unfortunately my worries came true with the final product. Fuse is a game that just screams “generic cover-based shooter” and this led to boredom surfacing its ugly head very early in the campaign. This feeling was enhanced by the fact that my teammate’s AI was pretty bad at times, leaving me to face some very difficult enemies on my own. So my first impressions weren’t crash hot, what did you think Pete?
Fuse is a game that just screams ‘generic cover-based shooter’ – Matt
Pete: I didn’t think much of it at first as the enemies were generic grey soldiers, my guns weren’t impressive and the story was an afterthought. I like cover-based shooters because they encourage you to use the environment and pace yourself as you go, but this one wants to keep the action at a distance. Quickly swapping between the four characters (known as ‘leaping’) was fun initially but I kept using Jacob for his sniper abilities. While okay as a single-player game, co-op adds slightly to the experience as you can play with a better layer of tactics than just relying on the AI to help you. By the end of the first level I was ready to write this one off, but then that mech arrived.
Matt: Yeah some of those mech fights were great. In fact Fuse did one thing very well and that was the boss battles. This is something of a lost art in shooters, so it was nice to see a well thought out boss battle appear in this sort of game. I think a big part of what made these bigger battles so much fun were the Fuse weapons themselves. Individually they were entertaining, but when I combined my weapon with a teammate’s, the results were stunning. Flaming bodies, crystallised explosions and chained singularities took down enemies and bosses in spectacular fashion. As much as I found most of the game average these weapons couldn’t help but bring a smile to my face. It all looked exciting, don’t you think?
Pete: Up to a point. After using them for a while, I liked the extra dynamics they brought to battles, but overall the gameplay kept coming up short. It wasn’t until newer troop types were attacking me that I started smiling. I’m a big fan of the cloaked troops who rush in and apply the chokehold and the enemies that use shields like my own. This meant that I couldn’t just stay still and pick off enemies one by one, instead I had to move and pay attention all the time. These battles started to get pretty hectic and feel a lot like the Echelon mode which I think plays pretty well. Echelon works as a Horde mode in a small version of a campaign map, where 12 waves of increasingly difficult adversaries need to be wiped out. Add in plenty of mechs and protect and defend missions and I actually started to like this game. There was plenty of gold to spend on group perks and skins and extra XP to earn for upgrading character skills. The upgrades were useful but I really wanted there to be more differentiation between the four characters in their combat roles, perhaps by giving me the variety of playing styles on offer in the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. How did you fare?
I really wanted there to be more differentiation between the four characters in their combat roles – Pete
Matt: Well it is funny you mention ME3 because that is exactly what Echelon mode felt like, though it lacked a little of the punch that BioWare brought to its game. It was certainly a fun way to experience Fuse and I had a great time trying to beat my previous best playing both by myself and with friends. With four human controlled characters, this mode really comes into its own and is really Fuse at its absolute best. Like you said it would have been good to have a little more variety between the different characters (a class system would have been nice) but there was still plenty of fun to be had in this difficult yet rewarding mode. So I think we have covered off the important parts of the game, what are your final thoughts Pete?
Pete: Overall I can’t help but think that FUSE is full of empty calories. On paper it all looked good, but it never quite came together to be greater than the sum of its parts. The art style, the gameplay and mission based storyline didn’t really satisfy, although there was some fun to be had with the weapons. With so many better and more rewarding games out there Fuse is going to have a hard time holding on to its initial audience. Can an average game that relies so heavily on four player co-op really last that long? Am I being too harsh, Hewso?
Matt: No, unfortunately you’ve hit the nail on the head. Let’s put it this way, yesterday in the bargain bins I saw both Gears of War 3 and Mass Effect 3 for under $25. Both games offer a similar experience to Fuse and yet both do it in a much more interesting and competent manner. There is nothing that screams out that Fuse is a broken game, but at the same time there is nothing to separate it from the pack. It disappointingly fails to excite.