We have seen and played Fuse
since its rebrand – it was formerly known as Overstrike – but Insomniac Games
held back a few features until recently. At the preview event, we paired off and were sent off to try the campaign or the new Echelon mode at our leisure. It’s a risk when an experience is dependent on another player, but thankfully we had a reliable partner. With only two active players, this also gave us the opportunity to try out the much talked about Leap feature.
As Echelon was the newest mode on offer, we dove into that. The game mode is a wave-based cooperative mode, but there are a few differences that set it apart from other similar offerings. Firstly, the waves are randomly generated; players could be facing off against heavy-hitters early on and will have to hit the ground running. The second element that differentiates Fuse is that players may be given objectives and points to defend rather than being tasked with survival. This ensures that players must become accustomed to the battlefield as a whole, rather than learning one corner of the map and holding up there for as long as possible. These subtle changes make the experience more refreshing as it’s no longer a case of mowing down grunts for waves until you are forced to sit in an impenetrable corner. It also means that Echelon is tougher than some of its wave-based counterparts as players must move across open territory.
Considering we were trying to grow accustomed to the Leap function, to the distinctive Fuse weaponry, and to the differing enemies, we struggled with Echelon mode to be honest. Practice makes perfect, but we wanted to make the most of our time with the game. And so, it was off to the campaign where we would get more of a chance to experiment with leaping between characters.The four characters in Fuse have their own distinct abilities and Fuse-powered weaponry. Dalton is a tank-like character and equipped with an energy shield; Izzy is armed with the shatter gun, which crystallizes enemies; Jacob is equipped with the Arcshot, which can be used to pin enemies to surfaces or used as a trap that unleashes molten mercury; and Naya is armed with the Warp rifle, which causes black holes to appear and rip enemies apart.
The Leap function has practical implications, but the more immediate reason to take advantage of it is to try out different characters and their weaponry until you find one that suits. If there is a character being controlled by the A.I., it is possible for any other player to Leap into that character. After some experimentation, I was fond of Naya and her firepower. However, Leap will more commonly be used for strategic purposes. The well-known phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” rings true here. While the A.I. seems very competent, players can take matters into their own hands by Leaping to a well-placed character or to a character who is equipped with a better weapon for the job; this might entail walking out with Dalton’s shield to provide cover or sniping enemies from afar using Jacob’s Arcshot.
Insomniac Games’ fondness of over-the-top weaponry and the inclusion of the Fuse-based weapons are double edged swords. On the one hand, the Fuse weapons feel great and are fun to use. On the other hand, when the ammo runs out and you’re left with ordinary weapons it feels a little underwhelming. Of course, whenever I found myself in that situation I usually jumped to another character. Perhaps I will play the final game with two friends rather than filling the roster…
Fuse may not have the widespread wise-cracking that we saw in the Overstrike trailer, but a few integral features such as the Fuse-based weaponry and the Leap mechanic may help it stand out from the crowd. Echelon mode seems like a tougher wave-based mode, but we’re looking forward to seeing how it pans out with a squad of friends that we are used to playing alongside.Fuse was pushed back to a scheduled release of Q2 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.