Fuse PS3 review – Insomniac shooter will leave you dozing

Fuse Ps3 screens

A freshly wrecked military base doubles as your whistle-stop tour of Fuse’s high-concept weaponry. In one room, bits of scientists decorate walls and ceilings, impaled by the same deadly melanite crystals they were researching minutes earlier. In another, a turret that glows like the sun spins wildly out of control and burns the last surviving technicians to cinders. Across the way, a solid wall warps and shimmers like liquid metal, impervious to damage. And just when you thought it couldn’t get weirder, a black hole tears a corridor apart. As shop floor demos go, you won’t find many more effective.

Fuse PS3 review

And throughout this co-op cover shooter’s campaign, you sample the lot. Each of the four characters who make up misfit special agent squad Overstrike 9 claims one. Mouthy merc Dalton Brooks wields the Mag Shield – a pistol conjuring goalnet-sized defences that can be fired through by teammates; intelligence broker Izzy Sinclair uses her Shattergun to crystallise enemies; stealthy assassin Naya Deveraux harnesses black holes with the Warp Rifle; and fiery detective Jacob Kimble sets people aflame with a scoped Arcshot crossbow. Their mission? To stop the evil Raven Corporation harnessing alien matter called Fuse – the very substance fuelling the weapons you pitch against it.

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Whether offline with bots, online with buddies or strangers, or in local co-op, you pool the collective ferocity, earning points for skilltrees to develop your destruction. Soon Dalton can plant shields, Izzy can throw medkits for teammates, Naya can cloak, and Jacob can re-ignite fired bolts. Each agent may have only one such weapon, but it evolves plenty. Depth over breadth.

This means the interplay between them evolves, too. Use the Shattergun, for instance, to snare enemies in sharp black crystals, then ramp up the multipliers by burning them in bunches with the Arcshot. Or block a choke point with black holes from the Warp Rifle, then lob a few grenades in.

While foes are mostly fodder for the screen-filling effects of your combined powers, it’s the specialised ones that really flex Fuse’s teamwork muscle. Swarms of bug-like drones need to be halted with Dalton’s Mag Shield, then taken out at once with its force push. Riot-shielded SWAT teams and hulking mechs, meanwhile, are only vulnerable at the rear, so one squadmate needs to act as bait while the rest flank them. Although it’s far from fresh, Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank heritage shines through in the ludicrous chains of destruction.

Although it’s far from fresh, Insomniac’s
Ratchet & Clank heritage shines through
in the ludicrous chains of destruction

Soon, however, you begin to spy the deep-rooted dearth of ideas. There are elevator bits, bits where you have to hold out while elevators arrive, valve-turning bits, charge-planting bits, turret bits, bits involving picking something up in one place and putting it down in another place. Even seemingly unique bits have, upon closer inspection, been pinched from other games: a hallucinogenic boss battle with a giant villain lifts Arkham Asylum’s Scarecrow sequence almost wholesale.

Fuse Ps3 screensHalf-hearted platforming could have elevated fights, but instead it’s simply a way to get from A to B. Stealth is also undeveloped, seeing you try to neutralise a room of guards with their backs turned before dunderheaded AI buddies inevitably spark the shootout.

From a tired campaign to something with bite, the wave-based ‘co-petitive’ Echelon mode could prove Fuse’s saving grace. Over 12 rounds, one of six parameters randomly triggers. The best is Critical Drop, wherein a haul of heavy weapons and ammo lands somewhere in the map, and you need to collect them before the enemy destroys it all. As in the campaign, though, playing with humans is a must.

That’s if they stick around. It’s hard to imagine anyone will remember Fuse down the line, because the game’s biggest failing comes from it lacking in the thing that used to define Insomniac’s creations: personality. Creative director Brian Allgeier said the studio wanted to make a game with an older appeal. Sadly, somewhere along the way, it seems Insomniac confused the words ‘older’ and ‘generic’. Like four boring cover-shooters layered together. Inventive firearms aside, there’s a crippling lack of ideas: the weapon interplay is mild fun, but it can’t elevate the bland whole.

Our Score

Score: 6