What do you get when you ‘fuse’ the best qualities of some of the action game genre into one neat and tidy package? Well the result of that particular ‘fusion’ is none other than Insomniac Games’ FUSE, a game that takes nods from several other titles but all the while etching its own unique identity. While it is easy to overlook FUSE as a mash-up of things we have seen before, it is so much more than that, it is an uniquely Insomniac game that is every bit as fresh as it is wildly fun. FUSE is at once both familiar and unlike anything we have seen before. Insomniac Games have done it again, FUSE is truly special, it’s a genuine diamond in the rough.
The third-person shooter genre has without a doubt grown stale over the years, with most games simply tasking players with taking out hordes of enemies over and over again until a screen pops up saying that you have finished the level. Most games in the genre repeat this process from start to finish without an level of variety in between. FUSE deviates from that formula significantly by introducing a number of gameplay elements from other genres creating a delightful fusion of gameplay that in lesser hands would be a awful mess, but in the hands of Insomniac is utterly brilliant.
FUSE is best described as fluid frenetic fun. It mixes a variety of gameplay elements into quite the tasty gaming cocktail. On the surface it is a mere third-person shooter but it is far more deeper than that. With a focus on pure fun, Insomniac have taken the best elements of the action game genre and made a game out of them, that is what FUSE is; balls to the wall fun. All of these elements we have come to know and love are taken in exciting new directions here in FUSE and given a new lease on life in a new light.
There is a sense of chaotic pleasure that comes with playing FUSE that is simply delightful, regardless of what gameplay mode you are playing there is a great deal of fun to be had from it due to the variation in the gameplay on display in FUSE.
FUSE’s single’s player and cooperative campaign modes are the game’s bread and butter. Both experiences are simultaneously straight forward yet pleasantly complex affairs that provide players with a lot to see and do in the world of FUSE. The campaign features a plethora of gameplay types reminiscent of third-person shooter experiences such as Gears of Wars and action adventure titles like Assassin’s Creed. There is even hints of Borderlands and Mass Effect on show here in the RPG aspects.
The campaign begins as you’d expect with everything going wrong for our heroes Overstrike 9. Slowly but surely we begin to uncover the mysteries of the world and become embroiled in a conflict regarding an alien compound simply known as fuse. It is a simple story that unfolds in unexpected ways. We see these four distinct characters develop over the course of the story all of which concludes in a way that is both satisfying and cathartic.
Each character has their own characteristics and unique skills which set them apart and encourage players to play the game strategically and make use of the game’s ‘Leap’ function. The ‘Leap function is a truly ingenius gameplay mechanic that allows you to switch between any of the four playable characters on the fly with a simple press of a button. Through this you can work on leveling and developing each character in Overstrike 9 and getting to know each on more deeper level by taking control of them. You can upgrade their skills much like in and RPG game, gaining different abilities along the way. The skill tree itself is well designed and gives players an incentive to improve each character. The best part of it though is that all experience and development earned crosses over through all game modes, so if you train up in single-player you retain that development in multiplayer, it works a real treat.
Not only that but each has their own special fuse-based weapon that they get early on in the game, each of which fits with the character’s skill-set. For example Dalton’s mag-shield perfectly complements his tank-like characteristics, likewise Jacob’s arc-shot suits his long-range sensibility.
There is even greater variety than just that in FUSE, with the level structures being very different from your average third-person shooter. Each level is set within vastly different environments, be it a jungle-like setting, an underground military facility or snowy mountains. Instead of simple bombarded players with enemies one after the other there is down time in between fights that not only makes each combat section feel important and fresh but also allowing players to soak in the world of FUSE and explore the wonders of it all.
This downtime in between combat is accomplished through exploration segments that implement climbing mechanics reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed. These climbing mechanics provide a sense of place to the world of FUSE and allow you to absorb in the setting instead of worrying about shooting enemies. This was a very smart decision from Insomniac to include these climbing aspects as it adds to the overall fluidity of the game, these places feel real and if you see it you most likley can climb on it, jump over it, hang off it or just plain do about whatever you so very well please. It is fluid and it works so very well. It achieves a balance between combat and exploration that makes FUSE so incredible.
Besides the single-player mode, there is also the multiplayer mode Echelon, which is a real challenge to say the very least. It works similarly to Gears of Wars’ horde mode but instead of simply plowing through enemies you are given a variety of objectives to complete all the while working cooperatively with your team mates in order to achieve that goal. Objectives include players being faced with an enemy to defeat, protecting a position, capturing a position, capturing a cargo drop, transporting a fuse cell and even deadset domination of an entire army of enemies.
It is far from your standard multiplayer mode and I must say that Echelon may just be the most addictive multiplayer experience in quite some time. There is so much fun to be here and that is a something that really something that can be said about all of FUSE, it is pure fun, no holds barred entertainment at its best.
Visuals and Audio
Aesthetically FUSE is a very appealing game, it is simultaneously vibrant and gritty, much like its gameplay being a unique fusion of familiar visuals which when combined makes for something ultimately fresh. The art is refined but with a cartoon silliness to it that complements the gameplay perfectly. It has that action movie feel to it that fits FUSE like a glove. It’s rich and detailed giving the game a sense of place and a unique atmosphere that sets FUSE apart from the pack. It is a really impressive outing graphics-wise for Insomniac Games, they retain what makes them Insomniac all the while reaching to new heights.
The game features an equally impressive soundtrack, comprised of action movie ready tunes that adds to the on screen action in ways that few video-game soundtracks ever do. It is a memorable soundtrack to say the least and it all works to create an atmosphere and vibe that serves FUSE admirably.
FUSE is ultimately a fresh take on a genre gone stale. By focusing on pure fun, FUSE takes the best elements of the genre ‘fuses’ it all together and becomes something that we haven’t seen in a long time, a game that puts fun first and everything else second. FUSE may not be perfect, but if you take the chance on it, you will undoubtedly find it to be a thoroughly entertaining game with an honest heart underneath it all that can only come from Insomniac Games.
FUSE is a game that remembers why people play games to begin with – to simply have fun. For that alone FUSE succeeds where so many other games fail. FUSE is explosive fun and if you aren’t playing it, you are missing out – FUSE is fantastic.
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