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Fuse review

Decent
AT A GLANCE
  • The awesome gun effects
  • Frenetic teamwork in four-player co-op
  • The smooth controls
  • Firearms feel underpowered
  • Superfluous RPG elements
  • Repetition and constant interruptions

What goes up must come down. Oddly enough, that's an appropriate description of what it's like to play Fuse. The awesome effects of its inventive weapons will rocket you into a state of euphoria, a wonderland filled with firearms whose bullets create vaporizing energy blasts and explosive miniature black holes. But just as you start to get all hot and bothered, you'll be ripped from your gun-induced high by jarring interruptions, painfully generic enemies, and a sterile presentation.

Its cliche premise pits four operatives--belonging to the organization known as Overstrike 9--against a by-the-numbers world-threatening agency. While Fuse's characters do have a bit of personality and participate in some occasionally fun banter, the real stars of the show are their unique weapons. There's the bullet-blocking Mag Shield; a Warp Rifle that creates the aforementioned black holes; a crystallizing crowd-control firearm called the Shattergun; and the Archshot crossbow that immolates enemies on impact.

Thankfully, you don't have to commit to just one agent for the long haul. Though each of the iconic Fuse weapons are specific to a single character, you can swap between squad members freely so long as the agent you want to jump into isn't being controlled by another player. This easy-to-execute maneuver lets you get a taste of each of the special guns, keeping firefights from feeling too stale throughout the eight-hour campaign.

"...the real stars of the show are [the] unique weapons."

Best of all, gun effects can be chained together to produce some truly awesome kill combos. Shoot an enemy with the Arcshot through the Mag Shield, and your bolts will pack a little extra punch. This incentivizes teamwork during cooperative play, which is practically mandatory if you hope to overcome the grueling challenge of Fuse's later levels, or its brutal wave-based Echelon mode. Should you choose to play solo in either mode, AI will take control of unmanned agents--but its reliability is sporadic at best. Sometimes AI teammates will work almost as effectively as real players; other times, they'll stand back while you do all the shooting. Playing with others makes for a far more enjoyable experience.

Still, company doesn't negate the repetitive nature of Fuse's design. Each enemy-filled arena is followed by another, and you'll spend a majority of your time holding down the right trigger, destroying armies of uninteresting bad guys. Problem is, the act of shooting is dull in comparison to the end result produced by Fuse guns. They sound puny when fired, and you'll have to unload dozens of bullets into enemies before they go down--a situation that's amplified once you run out of special Fuse ammo and are forced to resort to run-of-the-mill assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols, which sound and feel even weaker. Enemies are bullet sponges because you're meant to take full advantage of the crowd control and damage mitigation abilities at your disposal. Ultimately, though, their massive health pools make weapons feel too underpowered.

"...you'll spend a majority of your time holding down the right trigger, destroying armies of uninteresting bad guys." 

Even more problematic are the intrusive rally points that punctuate combat encounters, requiring the presence of all four characters before allowing you to progress. You'll pull a lever, kill 70 bad guys, then pry open yet another steel door to do it all over again. These checkpoints are frequent and can bring multiplayer sessions to a dead stop whenever a player decides to troll by refusing to stand in the correct spot, or take a break without letting anyone know.

Then there's the superficial progression system. Every action, including the chaining of weapon effects, yields experience points, which are used to marginally increase the potency of your Fuse weapons and other abilities. At first glance, this imbues your character with a degree of customization--until you realize that all four agents have the same exact singular skill tree, save for a few character-specific upgrades. There's no way to differentiate your playstyle from that of anyone else aside from choosing which Fuse gun you like the best.

"There's no way to differentiate your playstyle from that of anyone else aside from choosing which Fuse gun you like the best."

That's not to say Fuse doesn't have its merits. The control scheme is brilliant in its fluidity: It takes almost no effort to slide into cover, perform an awesome-looking melee kill, vault over a chest-high barricade, and take cover once more before tossing a grenade. When the battles get huge and you're slinging hot lead with a few pals, Fuse becomes a genuinely enjoyable if not mindless experience.

But that's a best-case scenario. For every aspect Fuse gets right, another bogs it down. Its special guns do some amazing things, but they're boring to shoot. Its tight, responsive controls means it plays like a dream, but they merely offset the tedium that comes with blasting away thousands of generic enemies. And its progression system gives you something to strive for--until you give it a once-over and find useful upgrades to be few and far between. Those hungry for a new co-op game will definitely find some enjoyment here. Just don't expect to stay satiated for long.

This game was reviewed on PS3.

More Info

Release date: May 28 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
May 31 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Insomniac
ESRB Rating:
Mature

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16 comments

  • winner2 - May 28, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    Oh the mediocrity!
  • antiAntag0nist - May 28, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    If only this game kept the same style as the original trailer for Overstrike...
  • jeremycarrier - May 28, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    The gameplay would still be just as boring.
  • BladedFalcon - May 28, 2013 5:36 a.m.

    *Shruuugs* That's how I feel about this. To be honest, I definitely was one of those that lost pretty much all interest when the entire tone of the game was changed, from a wacky, fun, slightly more adult style and tone not that dissimilar to Pixar's the incredibles, to a super serious, generic looking shooter that looked like it had lost every bit of personality it had. Had this score been given to what Overstrike appeared to have been, would have been the real shame. But for what is now Fuse, seems completely fitting. Now, let's just hope it sells terribly on all fronts so it can serve as a lesson for the industry that killing fun ideas in order to make them look more "mainstream" IS going to cost you, and dearly.
  • Arobadope - May 28, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    This x10^360th power.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - May 28, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    I mean, aside from a tonally different CG trailer, there's zero evidence that Fuse ever played any differently than it does now, even as Overstrike. I really wish it had taken the initial zany / quirky, over-the-top approach to its characters, though.
  • BladedFalcon - May 28, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    I wasn't necessarily saying that had the game been released as overstrike, (and with that style) it would have been a better game. Just that if that had been the case, finding out that the game was mediocre would have been a true disappointment. But as it stands, nobody seems to be all that surprised, or care that much that fuse turned out to be "meh" XD Though, be honest, you KNOW that had the original style had been preserved, even if the gameplay was the same, most sites would have bumped it at least 1 or 2 points higher :P
  • Divine Paladin - June 1, 2013 11:25 a.m.

    Many sites likely would've done the opposite, honestly. Imagine what IGN would've said about a less "generic" version of what they already reviewed - that would've been a 4/10 at best easily (although I have a huge issue with most of what IGN complained about, because that review seems to ignore the fact that it has co-op, among other things...usual IGN bullshit). Either way Fuse ends up as a 70%ish game overall.
  • snipes101 - May 28, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    Liek BladedFalcon said, style can help a mediocre came at least *feel* less mediocre than it really is. Check just about anything by Suda, and a few Guy Ritchie films for evidence.
  • Captain_eff - May 31, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    Actually Insomniac said themselves that they did a complete overhaul on the original game because '12 year olds' had thought that the game would be for their little brothers/sisters. They wanted to appeal to the COD audience I assume, what they were originally going for was a co-op game sorta like Ratchet and Clank but with humans.
  • RamenChimera - May 28, 2013 1:30 a.m.

    It's okay Ryan, I know that video holds your most dear secrets... but you don't have to keep it private on youtube, not anymore.
  • Stillnotlola - May 28, 2013 6:50 a.m.

    I laughed so hard at this. I love you.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - May 28, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Sorrryyy :( it's live now
  • PatHan-bHai - May 28, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    Aaawww! You broke his feelings.........
  • scaler2000 - May 28, 2013 1 a.m.

    the video on youtube is private..

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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