Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review: Fuse (PS3)

Fuse is a third person cooperative shooter set in the not too distant future where the US military has started harnessing alien technology called "Fuse" to develop weapons. Fuse is basically a weapon of mass destruction and a hot commodity on the black market. A rogue paramilitary group named Raven, stages a successful attempt to steal the alien technology from the government. So, with the clock ticking, a team of four special operatives called Overstrike 9 are called into retrieve the stolen technology.

In Fuse, you're always playing with four characters at once. The game can be played solo or cooperatively with up to four players (split screen for two players and online play for up to four players). Any characters not controlled by humans will be controlled by the AI but playing with other people is definitely the best way to enjoy Fuse.

If you're playing solo, the experience still feels solid. Your AI controlled soldiers have your back and help revive you, but they won't tally up the same body count as a human player would and they're a good match for the enemy AI, which is smart enough to take cover, run away from grenades and flank you.

One of the main features of Fuse is Leap. Leap allows you to switch between each of the characters on the fly. The only time you cannot use Leap is when you are injured or if you're playing with three other human players. The Leap system is terrific and I never found myself playing solely as one character. Each situation lends itself to a particular character and weapon, which are unique to each character.

Fuse does seem to draw inspiration from other games such as Uncharted and Tomb Raider. There is a fair bit of climbing, jumping, and taking cover. These elements all work extremely well and compliment the action very nicely.

As with any Insomniac game, the weapons really take center stage and each of them are a blast to use. There are so many options to use Teamwork or Leap against a group of enemies. For example, if you're facing a group of enemies with riot shields, you can have one character toss grenades behind the enemies exposing their rears and have Jacob take them out with his crossbows and ignite the surrounding enemies or have a sniper on your team take out the enemies once they turn around to the deflect the grenade blast.

Each of the four characters has their own skill tree that can be upgraded as you progress through the game. You earn experience points by killing enemies, getting kill assists, being stealthy or using teamwork. Each time your character ranks up, you can earn skill points which can be spent to upgrade the character skill tree. You're skill tree unlocks new weapons, abilities and increases the lethality of your weapons. While the game's levels are fairly linear, how you approach objectives and enemies is completely up to you. You won't fail objectives because you chose to get into a firefight over using stealth. While stealth may seem like the best option at times, a well planned out ambush can clear a room just as effectively but quicker.

The campaign is fairly long and worth multiple playthroughs because of the varied indoor, outdoor, and outer space environments. Depending on the difficulty you're playing on, the campaign lasts between 8-12 hours.

In addition to the campaign, there's another cooperative multiplayer mode: Echelon.

Echelon is similar in some respects to Horde Mode in Gears of War. The Echelon mode features twelve rounds with objectives that are randomly ordered. The objectives range from killing all the enemies on screen to defending a Fuse canister from waves of enemies to taking out an enemy VIP. The sixth and twelfth rounds also throw a boss into a mix. Make no mistake about it, Echelon is extremely challenging. You need to use each of the four characters strengths to your advantage and plan tactically against the enemies. Echelon is something that's been done in a lot of other games, but it is still loads of fun and so we'll see if catches on and develops a fanbase.

One of my major gripes with the game is that it feels like Fuse could have had some great competitive multiplayer modes. My other gripe with the game is that you don't really get a sense of who the game's characters are. What makes them tick? What brought them here? How are they emotionally different from on another? There's not much depth in that respect.

I have always loved cooperative games and I feel like in a lot of ways, Fuse is the game I have been longing for. Even with a few shortcomings, Fuse is a terrific game and hopefully it gives rise to a franchise.

- Siddharth Masand

The Good:
- Fun campaign that's worth several playthroughs
- Great weapons
- Echelon multiplayer is a blast and extremely challenging

The Bad:
- No real competitive multiplayer
- Not much depth to the characters

Score: 8.5 / 10