FUSE [Review]: You better have.. Friends!?? Or else…
Fuse has got to be one of the least flashy, flashy games I’ve ever played. On paper, Insomnic Games set up a seemingly delicious entre of mercenaries trying to save the world. The full course offers awesome guns and nonsensical villains! I’d eat that up all day! How could it possibly go wrong?
I’ll tell you.
For the 7-8+ hours of plot — a term this Christian will use loosely here — you play as four members of the mercenary group Overstrike 9; Dalton, Izzy, Jacob, and Naya. Overstrike 9 is tasked with investigating an evil military outfit, Raven, and their goings-on with regards to a dangerous and experimental substance named “fuse.” I use the term “goings-on” because I never really knew what was actually happening in regards to the titular “fuse”. It made my weapons really cool, and, apparently, “fuse” is worth risking your life to investigate. But, Fuse deserved game-title status as much as Bieber deserved a Billboard Award.
More relevant titles (Not better. Because, admittedly, Fuse is a cool title):
Cool Guns, Bro!
What is A.I.?
The Fan-Futuristic Four (But I’m sure some kind of copyright laws would be broken there.)
To the developer Insomniac’s credit, though, you do get a large chunk of story right off the bat, which is nice. To their discredit, it’s in the form of a pop up menu. They tell you fuse is an alien technology that when fused (ha! I just got it!) with weapons can create weapons of insane destruction (I’m paraphrasing… barely) and when a terrorist group, Raven, gets their hands on it you need to stop them. From what, you ask? Doing what you are doing I assume, which is killing massive amount of people with the tech. I wonder if they understand the concept of hypocrisy? From there, the story seems to lose importance — fast.
Another more relevant title: That’s So Raven
Sorry. Had to.
Edit: I just now found out that Fuse was formerly called Overstrike. And thank God that was changed. Really?
As the story delves into unimportance, we learn that each of our four characters has a troubled past, personal problems, and some funny — but unmemorable — one liners. None of this matters though, as the game draws your focus quickly away from “here’s some interesting people doing this impossible mission; I wonder how they’ll grow and change as characters?” to “KILL EVERYONE!” which would be another good name.
I think what it comes down to is that I didn’t care, or wasn’t made to care enough.
With all that negativity, you’d be smart to assume I hated Fuh-fuh-Fuse. The weird thing is, I actually kind of liked it… in the way that anyone would “like” Michael Bay movies. That notion is clearly showcased through the combat system. And no one does badass weaponry like the makers of Ratchet & Clank.
Each character has one signature gun, and one signature power (which I don’t remember being explained, but we’re past the negative so I’ll ignore it for now). The guns are fused with the material fuse, which is a so-so explanation at best, but who cares. At this point I’ve given up on any sense of explainable reality and I just want my awesome guns. And they deliver.
Izzy can crystallize enemies with her fuse weapon, making some of the most unappetizing human popsicles imaginable (although I imagine all human popsicles are fairly unappetizing..). Naya can use her warp rifle to suck enemies into a.. wait for it.. black hole! Yeah, basically Naya carries a weaponized Hadron Collider. Awesome. Jacob uses a crossbow — cause the ladies love it — that uses magma bolts to create landmines that melt enemies, Pompeii-style. Dalton has a shieldgun (and is a huge fan of oxymorons) that can absorb incoming bullets and be used as a wall-sized shotgun, firing the shield back at enemies. Dalton is also a savior, since that shield is one of the only damn reasons I survived most of the game.
Their special fuse-powered, perhaps(?), abilities are far less epic, yet useful in their own right. Naya can make herself invisible. Sneaking up on someone to suck them into a hole seems both contradictory and beautiful. Dalton can deploy a mobile shield in the battlefield, which gave the tactician in me a stiffy. Izzy could throw out a healing beacon, something I never used. Healing is boring. Jacob detonates his magma bolts, which you wouldn’t think was really a power, unless done with his mind. Let’s assume he does.
Side Note: Naya’s my favorite by far. She’s like a gun-wielding Gina Carano. One MMA-style stealth kill and you’ll agree with me.
The play styles of the characters work together beautifully, but there is a catch. Play co-op with friends and things are pleasant, fun, and work well. Play alone and you find yourself wondering if Insomniac spent more time on the enemies’ A.I. than your own team. You have the option to switch characters, but that still leaves three dimwitted companions with a sad lack of natural killer instinct. There were times when I’d be advancing through a battlefield like a goddamn gazelle and half my squad (Izzy was always involved, I hate Izzy) would be too busy diddling around with their iPhones.
Or so you’d think.
Aside from the no-fun-dolo campaign mode, there is Echelon. Echelon is basically a survival mode where bad guys come at you and you kill them. Mindless shite at best. At one point, it became nearly damn impossible to tackle waves tactically; thus, I ended up relying on the natural instincts honed from the brief 7-hour storyline to mow down baddies. Fun: Sure. Necessary: Not in your wildest imagination.
The bottom line is this: The Artist Formerly Known As Overstrike can be over-the-top, third-person fun with virtually no narrative. Despite the story sucking hard, killing countless numbers of Raven soldiers is oh so satisfying — with friends. As far as 3PS’s go, this is far from the worst.
Unfortunately for most players, Fuse’s lack of character development and solo potential will kill off hope for any long-lasting, murderous relationship.