3.5 Overall Score

Unique Weapons

Bland Environment | Bad Teammate AI | Repetitive Combat

Written by on June 8, 2013 in [, , ]

When Insomniac Games first showed Overstrike (the studio’s first multiplatform game) at E3 2011, the trailer was bright, colorful and showed signs of Insomniac Games doing something somewhat different in a sea of grey shooters. Then, we learned that the graphical style had been overhauled and the name had been changed to Fuse. Suddenly, the bright colorful game began to look like every other game on the market. Yet, hope still remained as Insomniac had created three fantastic video game series’ in Spyro, Ratchet & Clank and Resistance. The change in style, however, appeared that the games publisher, EA, had played a heavy hand in making Insomniac change everything that made the game unique. And the game is far worse for those efforts.

Fuse is a game that is simple in its story and yet, surprisingly, it’s nearly impossible to follow. You play as a member of Overstrike. The team is sent to infiltrate a base where they discover four special weapons, created using an experimental element known as “Fuse.” A terrorist group known as Raven attempts to steal the stockpile of Fuse and it’s up to Overstrike to stop them from using it for nefarious purposes.

While the plot is simple, there are a ton of times where you’ll simply be wondering “Wait, what am I doing? Why exactly am I doing this?” The story is just a means to the end of pushing you forward through the campaign to the different fights scattered throughout. This isn’t helped by the fact that characters are bland and the story simply drags on too long.

The game primarily plays as a four player co-op, cover-based shooter. When you don’t have a full team of humans playing, the game fills in the players with AI partners. You can play the game solo but there’s absolutely no reason to. In fact, you should never play the game with any AI character as they are completely useless in a fire-fight. If you happened to be downed, you can be revived by your partners but if you have any AI partners, you’ll have about a fifty-fifty chance that they will have any interest in reviving you. Sometimes they’ll try to help you and sometimes they will just roll around the level, even sometimes rolling directly over your corpse.

The game does try to make itself different through the unique weapons each member of Overstrike is equipped with. Naya uses a gun that creates exploding vortexes, Izzy can crystallize enemies, Dalton can create a shield and Jacob can fire a crossbow that has exploding rounds. When you first begin playing, these weapons actually are fairly unique and help you a lot. Naya, for example, can chain vortexes together causing a massive explosion. However, eventually this awe wears off as you are consistently bombarded with more and more enemies.

The game has a heavy emphasis on arcade style action, as every kill will provide you with experience points based on what combinations of weapons you used. Each character also has a special skill that can, sometimes, change how battles play out. Naya can make herself invisible while Izzy can throw a healing beacon. However, you’re bombarded with so many enemies that you’ll eventually just give up on any hope of playing differently and just shoot everything that moves. In fact, if you want any kind of nuance in your gameplay, Fuse should be avoided at all costs. Almost every single section of the game consists of you killing a small nation of enemies. You’ll kill a number of fodder enemies, then have to fight a mini-boss enemy, rinse and repeat.

It’s not just the gameplay that’s repetitious, however. Everything about Fuse feels like it was designed to be as repetitious as possible. You’ll fight the exact same enemies over and over. Fights will be in the exact same style of room multiple times. Levels go on for what seems like an eternity. Once you get tired of using the weapons, you’ll be completely worn out on the gameplay.

Another major problem Fuse suffers from is the fairly long load times present on the Xbox 360. These might not be as bad if Insomniac hadn’t made a massive mistake in their game design. Once one member of your team dies, you all have to go back to the last checkpoint. While you can be revived, as previously mentioned unless you’re playing with all human players, the AI will sometimes actively avoid healing you. The first time you have to restart a checkpoint, it’s annoying; by the fifteenth it’s flat out infuriating. This isn’t helped by the fact that the checkpoints can sometimes be extremely far away from where you died.

The game also has a surprising number of bugs. On more than one occasion, the camera may get stuck and not allow you to shoot any enemies, forcing you to do a checkpoint restart. Cutscenes may have characters with pink, pixelated skin. It all feels like the game needed a once over before it was shipped, as these aren’t massive bugs but they are noticeable.

At its best, Fuse is bland. The weapons are a decent change to generic military weapons found in most games today but that awe wears off quickly. Everything about Fuse feels like it was built to be as inoffensive as possible, taking none of the risks that it appeared Insomniac was taking with Overstrike. It feels like it was meant to appeal to as many people as possible but never does anything truly unique. What hurts the most is that Insomniac Games could have made Fuse much more unique and from what we saw in 2011, it seemed like they were going to. Whatever potential Overstrike showed in 2011 was completely squandered and that is the worst kind of failure.

A copy of Fuse was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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