I think it’s fair to say that Insomniac’s first multiplatform title, Fuse, has had a few rough patches during it’s development life cycle Originally revealed as “Overstrike” back at E3 2011, it wowed audiences taking a distinct Pixar type look and mixed in mature themes and humor. After going dark for over a year after that reveal, Insomniac revealed the game once again in the Fall of 2012 with the rebranded “Fuse” title. The game shed it’s Pixar style look in favor of a more gritty, realistic look much to everyone’s dismay. Since that time, Insomniac has been trying to rebuild fan’s trust in the game in addition to try to sell people on the new look.
The final step in that process hit last week with the demo. Would it be enough to sway me back in the Fuse camp, or is all hope lost? Full impressions after the jump.
The demo opens with the Overstrike 9 team ascending a snowy mountain to assault the Raven Mercenary group’s base. I’m assuming this mission isn’t near the beginning of the game only because there’s no frame of reference to what you’re doing there and why. There’s also a lack of tutorials during this mission so you’ll need to experiment a little bit with what does what but overall, the controls are simple enough if you’ve played a third person shooter before.
The star of the show here are the Xenotech weapons themselves which gives each character a role to fall into. Jacob gets the Arcshot, a crossbow that fires molten mercury bolts. Dalton has the Magshield which lets him absorb pretty much most damage and can also turn it back on enemies. Izzy has the Shattergun which lifts enemies from cover. Lastly, Naya has the Warp rifle which paints enemies with mini-black holes which cause a singularity explosion. Yes, it’s as cool as I described it. Each character also has a special ability as well such as Naya being able to cloak for a brief time, Izzy being able to place a beacon that heals the team, Dalton being able to place down portable cover, and Jacob being able to remote detonate his Arcshot bolts. Traditional weapons are here as well but I only used those when I ran out of ammo for the Xenotech guns.
Each character can gain experience, level up, and apply skill points to specific trees gaining bonuses. It’s no where near as in depth as a game like Borderlands, but I always appreciate RPG like elements which allow me to customize my character a bit. Players can also spend in game credits to purchase team oriented bonuses, but the demo didn’t actually highlight that so I can’t speak too much about it.
Combat typically breaks down into firefights so cover is a must if you want to survive. Enemies seemed to move around to get a better position on you which was good to see and they will punish you if you try and go all Rambo on them. You won’t be able to Call of Duty your way through this title, you’ll need to think a bit creatively and stay in cover. The cover system is more of a “snap” based style where pressing a button will cause your character to quickly snap to the nearest cover. There’s plenty of room for tactical and strategic combat opportunities as the game rewards teamwork with additional XP.
To be honest, I wasn’t floored with the teammate AI. While they do help in fighting and reviving you, it seems like they don’t take the best lines to stay up with where you are. There were a few times where my team (or a couple of them) were way behind where I was. I not sure if they got stuck on the geometry of the level or if they were trying to shoot form that far back. It was a little disappointing but not too severe as it wasn’t a constant problem.
Thankfully, the problem is nullified by the LEAP feature which lets you instantly swap to a different squad member at any time. It’s a feature that sounds really simple on paper, but it’s seamless, efficient, and really benefits the player. It also will let you position or set up some squad based moves easily enough during a tense combat situation. It’s something that lone wolf players will definitely want to use.
The Fuse demo definitely managed to set the tone for the game’s release in a couple weeks and has restored my faith in the product as a whole. I was initially worried that the game had fallen into “generic” territory as the game shed it’s CGI style look for a more realistic and gritty one. Thankfully, the demo has removed the majority of that fear for me. I had a lot more fun than I honestly expected and I can see this being a game that shines even brighter when you throw some friends into the mix for co-op. The key to enjoying Fuse is forgetting about Overstrike which I know many may have a problem with. If gamers can get over that aspect, they may just find an entertaining game worth checking out.