Insomniac Games’ latest effort is the third-person shooter action game FUSE. We were recently able to sit down with the game at EA Australia’s offices and even got to interview Insomniac Games’ CEO Ted Price. So how does the game shape up? Is it meandering or is it mind-blowing?
FUSE is a game that can be described in three simple words: Fluid, Frenetic, Fun. There is a certain sense of chaotic pleasure that comes with playing FUSE that is quite simply uncommon today. It mixes a number of genres and styles into what in anyone else’s hands would be a mess, but in the hands of Insomniac Games FUSE is something special – a diamond in the rough.
Many games hit the market with a distinct lack of polish, that is not the case with FUSE. It features an inventive single-player, co-op and multiplayer experience that takes familiar concepts in interesting new directions.
The single-player and co-op campaign mode is perhaps one of the most simple yet complex ever seen in a third-person shooter. While others fail to get the right balance between combat and exploration, FUSE gets it just right.
We began in the underground Hyperion Base that seems to be home to all manner of experiments with the titular substance ‘fuse’. You play as Overstrike 9, a dysfunctional team of agents to say the very least. The further you journey into this level the more you come to see just how varied the gameplay is in FUSE.
Insomniac make an intelligent decision to include climbing aspects that feel similar to something from Assassin’s Creed. The world as you see it feels very real. You can hang off railings, climb walls, jump, roll and generally maneuver throughout this environment in subtle ways. This nuance and attention to detail creates an overall flowing gameplay, with covering being very natural and allowing for multiple ways to proceed from that cover position. I have never felt so free in a third-person shooter environment.
On top of that the game balances these aspects with combat portions perfectly, making each and every encounter with an enemy feel fresh and most of all fun. By not bombarding the player with enemy after enemy, it makes the combat portions have greater importance and significance. It also gives the player a break between hard slogs. The exploration aspects in between the battles really add a sense of place to the game’s setting, giving the environment real substance and life. You become greater immersed because they game allows you the time to explore instead of bombarding you with hordes of enemies at a seemingly endless frequency.
All of this creates a brilliant mix of adventure and combat. Not only is the exploration portions very enjoyable due to the depth it gives to FUSE’s world, but the combat sections are likewise brimming with substance. Early on in the game players are given Xenotech weaponry. These weapons are powered by the ‘fuse’ compound and add a great deal of fun to the fights as well as strategy.
As part of Overstrike 9, the player is charged with four characters to choose from: Dalton, Jacob, Izzy and Naya. Each has there own particular advantages, due to their different abilities that come with their Xenotech weapons. For example Dalton is able to use his Mag Shield which can protect against enemy fire as well as blast it right back at enemies. Not only that, each character has a skill tree that they can develop as they play through the game and earn experience.
The skill tree will allow you to develop each of the four members of Overstrike 9. The best part of this though, is that your character development crosses over between each gameplay mode. Whether you are playing online co-op with a friend, local co-op, single-player or even online in the Echelon mode, your characters will retain their development. You can work at developing each character by utilizing the ingenious ‘Leap’ function which allows you to swap between characters at the simple press of a button.
It is easy to look at these elements of FUSE and be reminded of Borderlands, but the big difference between the two games is that Overstrike 9 are characters with personality and stories behind them, unlike the characters in Borderlands who serve as nothing more than a player avatar. The story-line of FUSE is very reminiscent of action movies of the 80’s and 90’s, an alien compound has been put to use on Earth and all kinds of hell is breaking loose. It has that madcap sensibility that truly understands what makes those stories so enjoyable – big guns, big explosions and big fun. It even has a fair share of catchy one-liners thrown around by way of Dalton.
FUSE’s online multiplayer mode is called Echelon. This is a very interesting game mode for a number of reasons. On the surface is seems to be your standard horde mode/survival mode type of gameplay, but there is so much variety underneath it that makes it so much more.
Echelon puts players through the wringer with a number of different challenges with the ability to earn credits through each level. There are numerous objectives that the players is faced with such as defeat a certain enemy, protect a position, capture a position, capture a cargo drop, transport a FUSE cell and even all out domination of an army of enemies. This is of course a very challenging gameplay mode but in and of that an addictive one. You will want to keep coming back for more no matter how many times you get knocked down.
Ultimately FUSE is a breath of fresh-air in a genre that has become stagnant in recent times. With its focus on fun, FUSE does something that we haven’t seen in quite some time, it puts the gamer’s enjoyment first and let the rest of the game has simply evolved around that. This is not a game that will force you to slog through hordes of enemies without break, it will welcome you into its world with open arms and trust me when I say this, you will enjoy your stay.
FUSE is set to be released on May 31st, for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. What more can I say? Insomniac Games have done it again – FUSE will utterly blow your mind.