- Developer - Insomniac Games
- Publisher - EA
- Platforms - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
- Release date - 31 May
- Price - TBA
Fuse is good, it's fun. A third-person shooter which can be played on or offline by a co-op team of four people, it's not exactly reinventing the wheel, but in terms of polishing up and repainting what's worked well for Gears of War and Uncharted so far, Fuse does a bang up job.
The set-up is simple stuff. A freak, alien substance called Fuse has wound up in the hands of an evil corporation, which has been tinkering with it to make experimental weapons. When word gets out that another shadowy company called Raven is trying to harness Fuse for its nefarious gains, your team of four is sent in to stop them.
And that's it, basically. Fuse has just enough narrative seasoning to keep things interesting without overbearing the quick, enjoyable action. From what we've seen, guns, as per development studio Insomniac, are the name of the game, with the Fuse energy allowing for some Men in Black levels of firearms absurdity.
Each member of your team has their own gun and own ability. First is Dalton, a -sigh- wisecracking mercenary who acts as the tank, absorbing enemy fire on behalf of the group. He comes with the MagShield, a bulletproof force field that he can throw up anywhere to stop incoming fire. As a neat twist, the bullets it absorbs charge it up, so once the shield's been hit enough times, you can hit the trigger to let out a shockwave, knocking enemies on their backs.
Then there's Jacob, a more straightforward fighter who deals massive damage thanks to his Fuse-infused crossbow. A good tactic is to have one player use Dalton's shield then have Jacob stand behind it (your team can shoot through the MagShield) and pick off groups of baddies from behind cover.
There's also Naya, sporting a gun that creates tiny black holes, sucking enemies inside and killing them. She's super useful when it comes to large groups, since she can chain black holes together, wiping out 20 or 30 guys in one swoop.
Last is Izzy, a scientist equipped with the Shattgergun, which fires crystallising goo to freeze enemies in place. Like Naya, she's handy when it comes to big groups; spraying crystals everywhere is a good way to hold off one batch of goons while you deal with another.
Together, the team forms a working, complementary unit. Dalton and Izzy are your defensive side, providing distractions, cover and crowd control while Jacob and Naya, your two forwards, wipe everything out with their respective big guns. There are standard weapons, too, like shotguns, rifles and the like, but the music of Fuse is when you can harmonise together all the sci-fi weapons and team mates. As such, you're encouraged to play it with friends, but you can solo too if you want. Fuse lets you rotate between all four of the squad whenever you like, and when they're not in your hands, their AI is still geared towards cooperation. The CPU version of Dalton will still open his MagShield when things get rough; if you're shot and wounded, they'll run to your aid and revive you. Co-op is the byword in Fuse, but even played alone, it still feels like you're part of a team.
With these RPG-style classes come, naturally, RPG-style progression points, with kills, collectibles and boss fights earning you currency that can be spent upgrading your team. There's also the option to combine guns, with Insomniac promising that around 60 viable combinations will be available. You know how in Dead Rising 2 you could Sellotape an axe to a sledgehammer? In Fuse, you can weld a shotgun to a rocket launcher, or a sniper rifle to a machine gun. Big, slapstick weapons really are the order of the day in Fuse; there's a lot to play with here.
Playfulness, in fact, is at the heart of Fuse. Though certainly in the vein of Gears, Army of Two and the rest, it has a breeziness and a colourfulness of its own. Our short preview took place mostly inside a Project Eden looking military base, but Insomniac was showing off levels set on tropical islands, frozen archipelagos and even, much later on, in space. Fuse doesn't seem wacky exactly, but it's certainly light-hearted. It looks like a game of big ideas, where any suggestion beginning with "wouldn't it be cool if..." has made it in. After an entire console generation of downbeat, grey-brown third-person action games, Fuse is shaping up like the ideal up-note to close on.