FUSE is a tactical third person shooter developed by Insomniac Games for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It's rather new; it just came out last month. I'd heard a lot about it from my friends, and the demo wasn't too bad, so I figured why not? FUSE isn't amazing, but it's not piss poor either. Let's take a deeper look at the title.
Movement, as most people know, in particular is a big thing in a shooter, especially a third person shooter because generally being able to move in, out of, and around cover comfortably is everything. FUSE has rather fluid movement for a TPS -- I was impressed with it. It's definitely much more fluid than the likes of Gears of War or Mass Effect.
You can run over cover or climb up walls by holding down a single button as opposed to tapping it once you hit cover like in the aforementioned titles. While in cover you can also do a takedown on an enemy on the other side of the cover or coming around the side. These takedowns are silent, and thus it's possible to clear some rooms completely with stealth. This doesn't happen very often, and even then is highly unlikely if you're not playing with friends.
You can also do a takedown by making an enemy stagger -- usually with a melee attack -- and pressing the Y (or Triangle, I assume) button when prompted.
The AI in FUSE isn't bad by any means; in fact I was actually kind of impressed with it. Your teammates use all of their abilities -- even Fusion, your God-mode ability that revives you and your teammates, makes you invulnerable, and gives you infinite Fuse energy for a limited amount of time.
The only downfall of it from what I've experienced is something that I'd expect from an AI: when you're doing an objective-type wave in Echelon, Dalton -- your tank of sorts -- won't put his stationary shield down in front of what you're protecting; he'll protect you and your allies with it instead. This could go either way -- it could be good or bad. Chances are that it's not very preferable though, as the enemies will make a beeline for the Fuse cell that you're protecting and shoot it unless you engage them directly.
This brings us to our next mechanic, the Leap feature. At any time, you can switch to another Overstrike agent that is not being controlled by a player. Generally when I'm playing Echelon, I'll switch to Dalton, put up the shield, then switch back if I want. The game constantly reminds you that if you bottom out on ammo, you can switch to another character who has ammo to stay in the fight. This isn't very necessary, and to be honest I for one am glad that they didn't build this game around the Leap feature.
Leap isn't exactly very fluid, and it's one of the only aspects of the game that strikes me as clunky. You press a button, a menu appears, you press another button that corresponds to the character you're switching to, and it jerks your PoV to that character. Chances are, when you do it, that your character is going to be out in the open firing at an enemy, meaning you'll probably go down soon and be unable to switch until someone picks you back up.
The weaponry in FUSE isn't exactly a broad selection, but each serves a rather clear cut purpose.
As far as Xenotech -- the weapon that serves as the differentiating feature between agents -- goes, this is no different.
Naya uses the Warp Rifle -- an assault rifle that creates a wormhole when you shoot an enemy enough with it which you can chain to take down a group of enemies at once. The sad thing is that this becomes nigh-useless in higher difficulties because it just doesn't do enough damage.
The Warp Rifle also gives her the ability to cloak and go behind enemy lines. When she's cloaked, her CQC specialist status shines, because she can do instant takedowns due to the enemy not being aware of her presence.
Isabelle -- Izzy -- has the Shattergun, an assault rifle-type weapon which turns enemies into crystal statues when you shoot them enough with it, allowing them to be shattered by further arms fire, a melee attack, or a grenade.
Her secondary ability is to throw out a Med Beacon to heal and revive teammates. This is incredibly useful, and as you can imagine sticks Izzy into the textbook Medic role. The Med Beacon can be upgraded to give a damage buff to agents that are inside the beacon as well.
Jacob Kimble has the absolutely terrifying and borderline broken Arcshot crossbow. This is hands down my favorite weapon in the game, and it excels in almost any situation. The Arcshot functions as a Sniper Rifle of sorts, with the delicious trait of sticking enemies to the wall if you kill them with it. A headshot results in an instant kill, and ends up sticking them to the wall by their head.
That's not what makes this weapon borderline broken, though. What makes this weapon so ridiculously powerful is Jacob's ability to ignite the Arcshot bolts after firing them at the cost of zero Fuse energy. This doesn't sound very impressive, so let me elaborate.
You're facing a group of Riot Troopers who are invulnerable to attacks from the front (with the exception of the Shattergun), so what do you do? You shoot a single bolt into the ground, wait for them to walk over it, then ignite it, setting one enemy on fire and chaining that fire to the other Riot Troopers, stunning them and allowing you to throw a grenade and eliminate them all in one fell swoop. I've massacred entire squads with minimal effort using this weapon.
You can also just pop a shot into an enemy that's in a group and ignite it to render the entire group helpless for a few moments. Like I said, the Arcshot is awesome.
Dalton has the most interesting Xenotech weapon, however, in the form of the Magshield. What this does is create a semi-clear shield of fluid in front of you that catches enemy projectiles, and when you get close you can pull the trigger and send a blast of energy back at the enemy. This blast can and will kill an entire group of enemies in one shot if you've absorbed enough ammo. You can also catch grenades and throw them right back, which is always amusing.
The Magshield's secondary ability is to throw down a stationary shield to protect your allies or an objective while keeping you mobile. This is really useful in objective games or when you're pinned down by enemy fire. The Magshield is pretty boss, but its biggest downside by far is that it runs out of Fuse really quickly. A single blast takes up between twenty or thirty Fuse energy out of the Magshield's max of 100, so it has to be used sparingly.
Dalton's Fusion is the most powerful I think I've encountered -- especially at close range. In addition to the infinite Fuse energy that all Fusions give, Dalton's cuts the cooldown of his Magblast to around 1/4 of what it normally is, allowing you to spam it to your heart's content. I've destroyed entire waves of grunts by using this, and it's ridiculously satisfying.
That said, two of the four of these seem too... cut and pasted, for lack of a better term, along with the skill trees. There doesn't seem to be a lot of imagination in them. Dalton's Magshield is by far the most unique of the weapons. The Shattershot and the Warp Rifle don't feel very unique at all. They both function in the same way (the guns not the secondary abilities) with the only differences being the way in which they eliminate enemies, and the fact that Naya's Warp Rifle can overheat when she's not in Fusion.
I was originally going to put Content and Difficulty in separate sections, but they really kind of go together. I'll just come right out and say it: the game is -- so far -- lacking in content and difficulty.
Echelon -- the game's survival mode -- is easily cleared. I've cleared all difficulty modes in both Campaign and Echelon -- which doesn't have a difficulty setting, sadly -- with two friends in one sitting per (one for Campaign, and one for Echelon).
As far as difficulty, I found FUSE to be lacking. Two of my friends and myself cleared it -- as I said, without a fourth person -- rather quickly. The difficulty in Campaign manifested itself in increased damage to players, which I don't think is such a bad thing in a shooter game.
The Bottom Line
FUSE was described by a friend of mine as an "above average third person shooter," and I'm inclined to agree with him. The game isn't bad, but it's not amazing either. I think Insomniac has only begun to scratch the potential of this franchise, however, and am pleased to hear that they're "just getting started" with FUSE.
I'm hopeful that they'll add a difficulty setting to Echelon and possibly introduce a plethora of DLC, because as I said, this game has so much untapped potential.
Metacritic Rating: 6.4/10
NGPlus Rating: 7/10
Edited by Kyrios