Fuse is a flexible lotion. It makes weapons go wild, and if you inject it into your neck, it gives you psychic powers. As an unstable but limitless source of power, it's a potential solution to the global energy crisis, and it's absolutely going to kill us all. After playing Fuse, I have no idea what Fuse is. But my god, I know it's important.
Insomniac has done a good job throwing together four bickering agents. Dalton Brooks is the traditional muscle dude, so it's good to see him get the Mag Shield - a wide walloping barrier that soaks up bullets, and can be spat away in a damaging push. He's in a support role, instead of being the weaponised meat-tank. Naya Devereux gets a Warp Rifle, which not only peppers enemies with tiny black holes until they become an explosive singularity, but it can also make her invisible. Always a bonus.
Isabelle Sinclair gets a Shattergun, that coats enemies in a crystalline sheath. It's not lethal, but it spreads to nearby enemies, making it good for crowd control - and renders them prone to shattering. She's also a medic, tossing out healing beacons like friendly grenades. And finally, there's Jacob Kimble, who picks up a kind of powerful crossbow. It's effectively a sniper rifle, and it's the least impressive of the weapons, especially when you consider the regular sniper rifles around the place that have an annoyingly similar effect.
What they're up against is long waves of soldiers, punctuated by the occasional and endlessly-repeated robot, helicopter, or airship. An increasingly annoying habit of developers everywhere is to put the frustrations of the players into the mouths of the protagonists. "Have they thrown their entire army at us?" asks Jacob, just as you begin to weary of the current setpiece. "You've got to be kidding me," implores Dalton, as another long fight with a Whistler airship begins, far too soon after the last one.
Just because you're aware of your shortcomings, Fuse, doesn't mean you get to rub it in our faces. Why not go the whole hog, and have Naya saying "I can't believe I paid forty quid to have someone mock me like this."
That absolutely isn't to say that Fuse doesn't have it's moments. It's designed to be played co-op, but I'd advise against playing with a full compliment of four. Having some room to hop between the AI-controlled players lets you change your approach for a while, which stops you getting bored with being Dalton or Jacob for more than five minutes.
Playing as Izzy or Naya offers the moments of destructive satisfaction. Weakening a crowd of soldiers, then triggering a chain reaction of singularities is a great way to boost your XP and fun, and firing your weapons through Dalton's shield for boosted power and XP makes the teamwork come together.
Stealth is an option, occasionally - but not if you're playing with AI characters, as they'll try to join in and invariably get spotted. It would have been a nice mirage, if it'd worked, but more often than not, they triggered a full-scale firefight. That said with 150XP for a Stealth kill, and Warp Chaining a row of five soldiers offering around 2000, stealth isn't for anyone who actually wants to level up, and unlock their secondary powers and Fuse Grenade upgrades.
Fuse isn't awful, and it has its moments which are genuinely good. In Chapter 3, the team split up, with two players offering support from a gondola platform, as the other two race to blow up helicopters in time to leap back onto the platform. But there's not enough moments like that, making this a matter of surviving endless similar rooms, and repetitive mini-bosses with too much health.
Sorry for the delay with this - our copy didn't arrive till after the day of release, which is probably indicative of EA's expectations.
A flare of fun that quickly burns itself out
- Izzy and Naya play well
- Dalton's good to have around
- Jacob's rubbish
- Too much repetition
- Boring boss battles