E3 – June 6, 2011. Insomniac Games revealed their new multiplatform title during the Electronic Arts’ press conference that not only rocked the screen and raised excitement in gamers across the board. It was to be an action-packed co-operative adventure filled with character and art direction up the yin-yang… and they called it – Overstrike. (Cue the awesome music!)
August 31, 2012. Titillated gamers gathered around after their nerdgasms at E3 to follow up on the already beloved new title, Overstrike, only to find that it had been reworked and rebranded as… Fuse. Needless to say, people weren’t happy.
So why indulge in a history lesson?
With the overwhelming interest that the Overstrike trailer brought from the community, it was interesting to see if the rebranded Fuse would live up to the hype. In the end, it didn’t.
Fuse follows a misfit team known as Overstrike 9. Players can take control of Dalton Brooks, Naya Deveraux, Isabelle Sinclair, and Jacob Kimble utilizing weapons powered by an alien substance called Fuse. Raven Corporation has set out to gain this alien substance and use it in nefarious ways. Overstrike 9 is meant to stop them.
As you play the game (regardless of singleplayer or co-operative play), a rough, simple, and a relatively straightforward story unfolds. Throughout the plot, you’ll find some resemblances of backstories for each character but only two are really ever fleshed out. The rest is rather poorly constructed and evidently cut from the final product.
But this is a shooter! Who cares about the storyline when I came blow stuff up?!
Well, I’m glad I asked that question because Fuse isn’t necessarily a bad shooter. The controls are smooth and the difficulty doesn’t render the cover system being unused or used out of some overwhelming difficulty. In fact, it plays quite nicely… with friends.
If you were to dish this bad boy out and start it up on your own, you’ll probably be chucking controllers at the screen from the very start. The AI behaviors or so horrendous that it’s impossible to utilize cool custom attacks that you can string together easily with friends. For instance, Dalton has a Magshield that protects players from the incoming fire but also rewards points to players who kill enemies while standing behind it or maybe you freeze them with the shattergun and then have, whoever is playing Naya, make them explode. In singleplayer, those instances won’t happen very often. Even with the ability to switch characters on the fly, the AI will be standing in the open giving blind fire, off in some distant corner, or not even paying attention to the battle. It just doesn’t add up to a well-rounded experience on your own.
As for co-operative play, you will feel how well the game is built around the combining of abilities. The natural flow of battle will be chaotic and full of good action as you and your friends gawk at the cool stuff your combinations do but it’s nothing particularly memorable. Sure, you could be stealthy and try to take people down with awesome melee or stealth attacks but in the end, you’ll end up in an all-out firefight regardless.
After a short while, you’ll even find the gameplay to be rather repetitive. It’s the same idea as any linear shooter. Enter the room, take cover, shoot everyone, go to next room, rinse and repeat. Even the boss battles are disappointingly repetitive since all that’s required is shooting the necessary barrels at the right time.
To build on the idea of repetition, they added in a Horde mode as well. There isn’t any competitive multiplayer and the Horde mode isn’t necessarily bad but it’s nothing new either. You’ll need a few players because, like the singleplayer, it’s dull and annoying to go about it on your own.
In all fairness though, Fuse isn’t necessarily a bad game. It’s a good (slightly unambitious) cover shooter that doesn’t really push cover shooters any further than Insomniac’s knack for ridiculous guns but the story is simple. The voice acting is relatively well done (although the dialogue can be cheesy). The gameplay is solid but definitely requires co-operative play for full enjoyment and the graphics are nothing particularly noteworthy. From the rebranding to the evident backstory cut, Fuse seems like the shell of something that could’ve been far greater. As I said before though, it’s not bad but it’s also nothing great.