Touching down with a fair amount of buzz surrounding it is EA’s Fuse, a high octane, four player co-op adventure that hopes to inject a bit of a kick into the rather slow summer months of the gaming world. Admittedly, there isn’t too much worth getting excited about when it comes to videogame releases for the next few months. Gone are titles like Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite and now we move into a slow period as we build up to E3 and then the holiday season, where all the AAA titles are released.
Admittedly, I entered into Fuse with quite a bit of excitement. I had been impressed with the demo and was hoping that the game would indeed be the one to keep me occupied over the slow, upcoming months. I’m always a sucker for a good co-op experience and the class-based characters along with the neat, fuse-powered weapons had me eager to get my hands on this one. So imagine my disappointment when one hour into the campaign I found myself struggling to go on and resisting the urge to eject the disc and go back to playing something else. Yes, Fuse is indeed a flop and not only is it a flop, but it’s one of the worst games of the year, thus far.
The story, or what the developers attempt to pass off as a story, is as cliched as they come. Something something nuclear weapon built with an alien substance, something something team of military agents (Dalton, Jacob, Naya and Isabelle) sent in to try and recover it from an evil corporation, something something someone’s out for revenge, backstabbing, betrayal etc. Or something along those lines. You know, standard shooter storyline that offers no immersion, lacks any imagination and is told in the most choppy, ineffective method possible. So yeah, the story is a write-off. It’s a shame, too, because the characters are likeable and interesting, it’s just that they are never fleshed out or explored nearly enough.
But what about the gameplay, you ask? Surely there has to be something noteworthy here, right? After all, this is Insomniac Games we’re talking about, aren’t they the guys who made Ratchet & Clank and the Resistance series? Why yes, yes they are! So surely there has to be something in Fuse that works well, right? Wrong. There is very little here that is notable and just about every element of the game has been seen and done before.
Fuse tries to stand out from the crowd by offering special weapons powered by the titular alien material. Each character obtains a Fuse-powered weapon, and while neat/interesting at first, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Though they take the form of guns, each Fuse weapon performs a different function. For example, Dalton has a Magshield which projects a deployable shield while Naya uses a Warp rifle that creates violent singularities. Jacob gets an Arcshot, which fires high velocity bolts and Isabelle has a Shattergun which can freeze enemies in place and then shatter them.
Like I said before, the weapons are cool and you can also get a bit creative with them (especially when you work as a team to combine your weapons’ special abilities) but still, it’s really the only thing that stands out in the game and after a few levels, they kind of lose their “ooo and awe” factor. You can upgrade them as you progress and with upgrades they do become a bit more powerful and gain some new functions but still, the fun only lasts so long. Of course, there’s your standard pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns and assault rifles too but they’re nothing out of the ordinary. The only real element of uniqueness when it comes to the weapons is in the Fuse-powered ones.
Now, there are unlocks and skill upgrades to apply to your characters as you go along but again, it’s all pretty run of the mill stuff. As you play through the game you’ll earn XP which will level you up and reward you with skill points. You can upgrade your character and their Fuse-powered weapons but again, it’s all pretty standard stuff that’s been seen countless times before in other shooters. Aside from adding on new functions for your Fuse weapons (example: Dalton’s Magshield can produce a physical deployable shield, rather than one that just projects from the barrel of the gun), there isn’t much of interest here and I found myself not really caring for the upgrade system. Adding on more health or damage or whatnot is something that every game lets you do with upgrades and is something I can care less about at this point. Don’t tell me I can add a 20% damage bonus to my gun, give me something tangible, something that I can see and use.
When it comes to the gameplay, it’s extremely bland, borrowed, recycled and “been there, done that,” making it feel incredibly boring and tedious at times. It’s very hard to distinguish between levels, too, as every corridor, hallway and room looks pretty much the same. Even the outdoor environments feel too stale and boxed in. Not to mention that there’s little to no variety in enemies. Sure, some have shields and some can fly around with a jetpack or use a cloak to become semi-invisible but these are nothing more than visual gimmicks to disguise the lack of variety in the enemy types. There are also big robotic enemies that the game throws at you to try and switch things up but other than taking a lot more ammo to destroy (like a good five minutes of bullet-spraying), and requiring that you fire at their “weak spots,” they don’t offer much of a challenge. In fact, they are the most frustrating enemy type to play against.
Aside from the single player mode, the game features co-op (online and offline). We definitely suggest running through the campaign with some buddies as it makes the experience slightly better and a bit more bearable. Co-op is always fun and in Fuse, the AI is sometimes pretty frustrating, which means that having a human player or two will make things run smoother. Playing through the game solo can indeed be pretty dreadful at times so playing co-op definitely ups the fun factor a bit. That being said, no matter how much fun you can squeeze out of your friends, it’s hard to get past the repetitive nature of the gameplay which essentially just has you slogging from cover-based environment to cover-based environment.
There’s also a mode called Echelon. Similar to Horde mode in Gears of War, and the other countless modes that have copied what EPIC did a few years ago, you’re presented with 12 waves of enemies which you need to survive. In your squad of 4, you’re tasked with completing the waves and finishing the various objectives they present. These range from simply killing all enemies to protecting a fuse to taking down a high value target etc. Like the rest of the game, it’s nothing new and though it does extend the longevity of the title a bit, it’s nothing that you won’t find yourself bored of after a few hours.
Technically, the game is sound. No glaring glitches or anything of the sort to mention and generally speaking, things look good. Like I said above, the environments themselves don’t offer much for the eyes but there are a few outdoor areas that stand out as highlights. The voice acting and sound in general is fine as well but again, nothing stands out on the technical side of things. Just very standard and what you’d expect.
Overall, when it comes to Fuse I just can’t give the game anything more than a “meh.” There really is no reason to waste your money on it and if you absolutely need something to kill some time with, then I’d say just rent it.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 version of the game.
Fuse is yet another bland, recycled shooter. It's so boring that it's hard to play through and not much about the game stands out as interesting or exciting.