The shooter genre has typically been defined by its ability to deliver things like innovation and addictive gameplay, which is what makes a title like “Fuse” seem so unremarkable. It’s not that the game, developed by the “Ratchet and Clank” team at Insomniac, is necessarily bad – it just feels rather mundane compared to some of the other shooters on the market. Heavily influenced by a number of likeminded titles (particularly Epic’s “Gears of War” series), “Fuse” offers a fun but somewhat shallow experience, namely due to the fact that it never fully develops its own identity amidst the hodgepodge of game mechanics borrowed from much better titles.
The story is generic and not terribly engaging, and part of that problem is a result of the almost nonchalant handling of the way information is distributed to players over the course of the game. It gets to the point where unless you’re tracking down and reading every single piece of supplemental intel hidden throughout each map, you probably won’t have a very good sense of what’s going on. So with that in mind, here’s the official synopsis provided by Insomniac:
What happens when a violent civilization unearths advanced alien technology? In the not-so-distant-future, a new kind of arms race is about to begin. When rogue paramilitary company Raven discovers an alien energy source called Fuse deep within a classified government facility, they stage a daring mission to steal it. Soon, they use Fuse to advance their arsenal beyond anything the military has ever prepared for. Desperate to keep their discovery secret, the CIA calls in a small independent contact team called Overstrike 9 to neutralize the threat. But as Overstrike closes in on one enemy, another even more sinister reveals itself behind the curtain. And what was once an alien arms race becomes something much more deadly.
Of course, the only part that really matters is that you control the four-man Overstrike 9 team – each with their own class and unique xenotech weapon powered by Fuse – although chances are you’ll just stick with one character for most of the campaign. Part of the allure of “Fuse” is that these weapons can be combined to wreak even more damage on your enemies, but unless you’re playing in co-op mode, you probably won’t get to experience this feature very often. That’s because the game’s A.I. system is terrible, making it very difficult to strategize. The LEAP feature does allow solo players to switch between characters on the fly and take advantage of their unique abilities, but while that’s a nice option in theory, it’s only really useful if you’re getting bored of playing with the same operative or you don’t want to wait for your A.I. teammates to revive you.
The ability to carry over your character’s class-based progression from single player to multiplayer is certainly a nice addition, but it doesn’t make up for some of the game’s more problematic areas. For starters, the graphics look a little dated (which isn’t surprising considering “Fuse” has been in development since 2010) and the cover system is too sticky to be effective during stealth missions. The gameplay also starts to feel a bit stale by the halfway point, mostly because the variety of weapons and enemies is so poor. In spite of all this, “Fuse” still manages to be mildly enjoyable at times, and it features one of the best Achievements (Bro Code Violation) in recent memory, but while the game provides a decent weekend distraction, it’s not one you’ll remember beyond that.