Lighting the Fuse

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us and that the calendar year is coming to an end. Usually, this is a great time for people to reflect on the events of the past year that have transpired. This is also a good time, however, to look ahead. And in that vein, EA held their ‘Naughty or Nice’ event in New York and allowed us to play some games slated for the next few months depending on if we’ve been good boys or girls (hence the name of the event). Some lucky few of us have been particularly naughty this year though and were able to go hands-on with Fuse, the upcoming third-person shooter from Insomniac Games.

In Fuse, you play as one of four misfit soldiers in the near future as part of a group called Overstrike 9 who work for the government after they start developing experimental weapons with an alien substance dubbed Fuse (hence the name of the game). Your objective is to then take down a corrupt organization known as ‘Raven’ with your new alien-powered weapons while also working as a cohesive unit.

What looks to separate Fuse from every other third-person shooter out there is not only the Fuse powered weaponry you acquire, but the ability to hop between all four members of the team should you be playing solo. This is critical as each member of the team has a distinct style and special abilities that will allow you to overcome the obstacles in your path. Of course, the game will also feature and encourage co-op, but gives you this option incase you’re like me and prefer to play games by yourself in a dank hole in the ground and the game can still therefore convey that feeling of being in an organized group.

The first character I tried was the fiery redhead Izzy. Her Fuse weapon’s special ability is to fire matter at enemies that freezes them in place, allowing you to focus on other targets or shatter them into tiny pieces with a melee maneuver and conserve your ammo.

Next, was Dalton and his ability was a special energy shield that not only prevents you and your teammates from being hit, but increases your ammo’s strength should you fire back through the shield yourselves.

Then came Jacob and he was one of my favorites. He has a special crossbow that not only allows you to impale enemies into the wall (think the Javelin Gun from Dead Space 2), but if multiple bolts are in the environment, you can link them together via an electric tether and then incinerate anything caught in-between the field. A perfect example of this was at one point in our demo a group of riot shield wielding thugs tried to storm the facility we just captured. In order to get them to drop their guard, I fired a bolt in front of the group, and two behind. I then activated the link and created a giant triangle of fire that killed many of the guards and the few who survived were so panicked that they were easy pickings for the rest of the squad.

Finally came Naya and she was another favorite of mine. Not only does she have an awesome gun that opens up miniature black holes from within enemies and consumes anyone close to it, which in and of itself is amazingly badass, but she also has a cloak that allows you to flank or sneak up on unsuspecting enemies and create havoc from behind enemy lines. I used this to get by many a turret in the demo and it saved me often as it’s easy to lose the invisible person in the midst of a firefight.

Aside from the brilliant gunplay, the game also features a cover system that worked well enough when compared to what is out on the market currently, and a simple free-running mechanic as the various characters could do things any normal soldier would do like hop over chain link fences to get to alternate pathways or to a breachable wall or door.

After infiltrating and wreaking havoc on the Raven facility, the group was met by a bi-pedal mechanized monstrosity reminiscent of something out of early Metal Gear. After taking trash to the group, the robot began pummeling us with lasers, missiles, and melee attacks as it hopped around the enclosed area we were fighting in. But with four people to attack it at once, it had difficulty targeting multiple foes and by literally running circles around it, we were able to turn the robot into scrap.

Although our time with Fuse was short, the game felt immensely satisfying as I played both by myself and with other people. The Insomniac staple of insane weaponry is evident clearly right from the get go and the unique abilities these weapons afford you looks like they’ll hopefully keep the game play fresh throughout. The only question now is if the story can live up to the off-the-wall fun the weapons provided and give us a wholly entertaining experience when the game is released in March 2013.