For more on Fuse, tune in to Player Attack, 9pm AEST May 17th on Aurora - or stick around next week to catch the online replay.
How do you go about building the perfect third person co-op shooter? There are so many elements to take into consideration, gameplay, story, weapons, enemies... the list is endless. Well, Insomniac Games has been hard at work since 2010 to attempt such a feat. Fuse (originally called Overstrike) is a co-op shooter designed from the ground up with co-op in mind. Each aspect of the game is made to work better with other players and after some hands on time with an almost-finished product, I can safely say that the developers have succeeded.
Fuse begins in the shoes of a team of misfit agents collectively known as Overstrike 9. This group is sent to a facility to investigate some trouble involving a substance known as Fuse, a super powerful alien technology with tremendous power. As with all good videogames, before you even land at your objective, everything goes horribly wrong and you are left to fight your way through seas of relentless enemies. This would be nigh impossible if it weren’t for a few amazing toys you stumble upon in your travels.
While searching a lab, Overstrike 9 finds four experimental Fuse weapons and this is where the game really finds its feet. From here you will use your new toys together with your team to put a stop to weaponising this dangerous substance, and with these babies, you can dish out a world of hurt.
Each member of Overstrike 9 is made to support the others. Besides reviving one another, each member has unique abilities to help in tough situations. The Fuse weapons are the basis of these skills and every one of them is incredibly useful.
Dalton Brooks, team leader, has a MAG shield, this puts him front and centre most of the time. This awesome device can soak up every type of bullet and grenade thrown and comes with the handy secondary ability to hurl them (and the shield!) back at your enemies. Dalton can also pulse his shield into to oncoming bad guys to buy time or plant it in one place to provide temporary cover.
Naya Deveraux is given a Warp Rifle, which - just like its name suggests - creates small singularities that rip enemies apart at a cellular level. Beyond simply looking really cool, this weapon causes chaos for enemies bunkered down. On top of cellular destruction, the warp rifle also can cloak Naya for a short time making her perfect for upsetting the enemy's plan of attack and flanking.
Izzy Sinclair has one of the best guns there is. The Shatter Gun hurls rounds of living crystal at enemies turning them into Fuse popsicles and lifting them into the air as easy targets for your other teammates. Once frozen, your foes can be shattered, causing damage to everything around them. As a secondary skill, Izzy can pop out a healing beacon that will speed up recovery in times of need.
Jacob Kimble is the lone ranger character, mostly favouring long-range combat. Using a weapon called the Arc Shot, he can easily disperse enemies with quick and effective headshots. Alternatively, he sets up traps, which release a spray for molten mercury onto his unsuspecting victims. Jacob is a perfect choice for the skilled gamer - his skills rely on accuracy making him deadly in the right hands.
Teamwork makes light work
Teamwork is not something often respected in games. Sure, games like Battlefield preach team-play, but very few games give rewards based on how well you work together. Fuse focuses primarily on rewarding the team, not the individual.
Shooting at enemies will give you experience, but hold a shield up for your team while they shoot through it and you gain experience for every kill made. Having this reward show up on screen in giant yellow lettering is instantly gratifying and after only a few minutes even the most gung-ho solo gamers will find themselves locked into the infectious system and loving it.
After you get your head around the basics, the co-op combinations begin to show themselves. Dalton’s shield provides great cover for reviving downs friends but works amazingly in conjunction with Izzy’s healing beacon. The warp gun can force enemies from cover, making them easy targets for Jacob’s arc shot. Once you begin to master these ideas, the rest is just reaction time.
With a good team beside you, Fuse is undeniably one of the most creative and gratifying multiplayer shooters you will find.
But wait: There's more!
In case there are gamers out there worried about replayability, Fuse also offers a competitive co-op sub-game called Echelon mode, great for those that need a break from the story missions. In this mode, gamers are pitted against waves of enemies in a horde-style system.
Echelon mode gives you experience and money that carries back and forward with the singleplayer game. This means that the rewards that pop out of dying victims are well worth collecting and causes a mad dash for collectables that will sometimes cost you a round. Echelon mode is faster-paced than the story mode and is a great challenge for those looking to test their mettle. Plus, the competitive aspect offers a refreshing break for those sick of playing friendly.
Fuse has something for every type of gamer. Insomniac Games put everything they have into building a multiplayer experience that works regardless of how you play shooters. No matter if you are playing split screen at home or online with friends, this game will offer you endless hours of entertainment and its addictive arcade style reward system is made to have you running back to play this again and again with every friend you have.
It might have had a long and shaky development history, but the delays have been worth the wait, and the results speak for themselves. Fuse is set up to blow all other co-op efforts out of the water when it releases later this month, do yourself a favour and do not miss out.