Can FUSE possibly break the monotony that is military shooters with chemically alienly thingies and CAPITAL LETTERS?
- Worth The Time?Nope
- Things LovedThe graphics look decent enough, the shooting is decent enough, the weapons are decent enough, the characters are decent enough, the story is decent enough, the boss fights are varied and interesting, it flirts with greatness on the second mission, the different environments are rather cool, co-op can be fun, the odd bout of funny dialogue.
- Things HatedEverything is just decent enough, nothing truly special about it, wasted opportunities with regards to characters and story, Xenotech weapons run out of ammo way too quickly, the AI are a bunch of bewildered idiots, feels generic as all hell, extremely repetitive, enemy covered hallways and stupid enemy spamming, ridiculously overpowered heavy units, forced platforming sections that offer no value, the soundtrack is dreadful, the stealth is beyond pointless, just a disappointment.
- RecommendationFUSE is a game you find in the bargain bin and NOWHERE ELSE.
- Name: FUSE
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1-4 local and online
- Multiplayer: Yes
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: Insomniac Games
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: R549
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
FUSE, or as some of you know it, Overstrike is a game that I’ve admittedly not followed very closely. I still haven’t seen the original trailer for Overstrike because frankly I never even knew it existed. This might be seen as bad thing, but I see it as a positive thing because now I’m able to judge FUSE on its own merits rather than compare it to a trailer like most people are doing. So here I am, giving FUSE a chance to really impress me as I’m free of any expectations and contempt. And it still didn’t impress me.
FUSE puts you in the shoes of one of four operatives. Their names are Dalton, Jacob, Izzy and Naya. Each of them has an unique weapon that is powered by the Fuse substance that can merge with anything and has hundreds of often destructive uses. Each weapon has its own unique feature that can be used to really give our operatives a competitive edge on the battlefield. Jacob, whom I used primarily because I’m a long distance fighter, wields a crossbow that fires Fuse, uh, fused bolts that can melt the flesh off enemies and skewer them against a wall. Dalton has a gigantic shield that he can deploy as extra cover and can also eviscerate people with a close ranged blast. Naya has a rifle capable of creating small black holes on enemies that create a singularity as they die and can spread to other enemies. Izzy uses a submachine gun that shoots crystallized shards that can encase enemies in a shard prison.
As I’ve said all that, you might think that the game sounds awesome because of these weapons, but no they are really nothing special. Once you kill your 100th enemy (sidenote: this is also my 100th article, well done me gold star) with them they soon enough lose all their charm and power and just turn into normal guns with some extra stuff in. And you kill a ton of enemies in this game. It soon boils down to shoot that guy then this guy and then maybe that heavy with all the emotion and flare of a plastic potato. I have to commend Insomniac for taking badass chemical weapons and turning them into boring assault rifles, shotguns and snipers.
The abilities of these weapons can be combined with each other to make some destructive combinations that can decimate your enemies, but the team AI are so stupid that you will rarely even see them. It’s a different story for co-op because you can focus on combining powers more often and that can make for a rather fun experience. You get more XP for using these tactics so it’s somewhat worth it.
What really didn’t make sense to me is that ammo for these weapons are as scarce as honesty in a politician and you run out of ammo for these weapons extremely quickly forcing you to use normal guns that are even more boring. With such a huge emphasis being put on on the guns, you would think they would have huge capacity and almost be used exclusively, but no you just use them for a minute or so then violently scrounge around for more ammo which is often not even present and resort to using normal metal bullet guns that are so boring I wanted to kill myself with them.
The story is as generic as you would imagine. The Fuse compound is being used as a destructive weapon and evil PMC’s are using it for world domination and it’s your job to stop them. The idea has many possibilities and the odd great idea did show its face, but as the story goes on it just becomes so boring. There were traces of good storytelling and interesting ideas, but they are gone through so swiftly that you forget about them as soon as they stop. There’s even instances where the history and and inception of Fuse was mentioned, but it was never truly explored. A massive waste of potential if you ask me.
The focus would surely be put on the team of people that you spend the game with, but they don’t even do that. These four characters are honestly interesting and I would have loved to know more of them, but their stories and histories are only momentarily touched on and never again. They do have some funny dialogue between them that has made me chuckle at times, but it’s only a few instances. You can see that the characters have interesting aspects to them and their histories could have really captivated me, but the development is not there.
The game did flirt with greatness on the second mission. In this mission a psychopathic scientist messes with the minds of the Overstrike team and forces them to relive memories of their past that they are not really proud of. This was wonderful because you got to see what they were really like and provide some great context. All in all great character development took place, but that’s the only instance where it happens. Throughout the entire game you never hear from it again and the team just goes back to following orders and doing stuff. Another tragic waste of potential that could have made this game so much better, but was just shrugged off.
The boss fights do deserve some praise because they are rather interesting. In the aforementioned magical second mission you fight the maniac scientist in an alternate dimension where he his massive and can shoot lasers from his hands. The other boss fights are a bit less wacky and feature massive robots that are quite the frantic challenge to take down. They are a little uniform because what the fight boil down to is the usual “shoot the glowing yellow things”. Still, they are rather interesting and fun to do.
The environments are properly varied with different locations and settings on every mission. One area is a tropical island and the other one is in space. It has some well deserved variation that I rather enjoyed. They look pretty enough with detailed backgrounds and such, but there was too much focus on corridors. Some of the levels mostly feature linear corridors with a bunch of enemies in them when they could have been done so much with the environments already present.
The game is extremely linear with absolutely no exploration required. It quickly turns into a follow the objective marker game with no branching out or exploring. XP drops and Fuse credits are scattered across the levels, but they are often extremely obvious or just around a corner giving almost no incentive to really search for them. Enemies just get thrown at you and at often huge quantities with no real variation in their approach. Occasionally a heavy unit gets dropped into the fray, but it’s not really anything special and just amounts to the four of you barreling down on the thing’s weakspot until it dies.
There’s also a stealth mechanic present, but it’s so useless that it doesn’t even deserve mention. Often before a big firefight enemies will just stand there unaware of your presence and you can effectively pick them off one by one, but the mechanic is so useless that you will only be able to take out one or two guys before being spotted. The reason why it’s so useless is because there is no crouch button. You can only take cover and roll so it’s nearly impossible to effectively sneak behind enemies like you would expect. What you get is your character awkwardly running around behind guys and breaking their necks only to be spotted and initiating a firefight. There’s no reward or incentive to this because it’s much easier to just shoot the bastards anyway.
Platforming is also a piece of arse because it’s extremely forced and without any real function beside traversing to the next area. There’s no skill involved in it whatsoever because the game tells you exactly where to go and you can’t mess up or do anything else. It’s as linear as the game itself and is could have been removed without any change taking place. It does use these platforming elements for certain puzzles and obstacles, but once again it’s extremely linear so there’s no challenge involved.
The soundtrack is just horrible beyond words. The entire game only has one background track which is a mixture of techno and dubstep sound effects that just annoys your ears and nothing else. Colossal failure on almost every level. It’s not memorable or functional and it does absolutely nothing to liven up the gunplay like its supposed to.
There are RPG elements thrown in such as leveling up and team perks, but the skill trees are also, surprise surprise, linear. There’s no branching out or skillfully unlocking certain skills, it’s just a case of get a bunch of numbers and unlocking a bunch of things. No thought or effort must be put into it. Yet another missed opportunity.
The game is only ever enjoyable in co-op because you don’t have to deal with your idiotic squadmates. They are incredibly useless and only really function as free revives. They can’t shoot worth a shit and I couldn’t see this more clearly as when Izzy was behind cover and was shooting a wall for the entire fight. I wish I could have recorded this instance because it was just so astounding how that can happen. She just sat there and shot into a wall for the entire duration of the firefight. The rest of the squad don’t fare any better and often just sit there taking the odd potshot rather than do anything useful. Sometimes their brains just short circuit and they stand around at a previous area doing nothing whatsoever until the fight is done.
I highly recommend playing co-op if you do decide to get this one day. It makes the experience a lot better because you’re able to formulate plans and better use combinations. It doesn’t break the monotony of it all though and my brother, who was my co-op partner, even said to me that the game was boring. And he’s not one for storytelling or narrative at all and would just like to shoot stuff as much as possible.
So yeah, FUSE is another game you can add to your ” maybe buy when there’s a massive sale going on” list because it’s not worth full price at all. There’s nothing particularly horrible with it and the shooting mechanics work like they’re supposed to, but it’s just so generic and monotonous that it would hardly feel worth it. Maybe for a short mindless shooting binge with a friend after picking up the game for next to nothing, but nothing more. What pains me is that there are some truly great ideas in place and things that I thought would have been so awesome if they just focused on them more, but no all we got is a generic shooter that tried to appeal to as many 12 year olds as possible.
This game can FUSE with the BARGAIN BIN.