Insomniac Games is well known for its excellent video game franchises on the various PlayStation platforms throughout the years – most recently the studio brought us the Resistance and Ratchet and Clank series to the PS3. With FUSE, a 4 player co-op third person shooter and story driven, action game Insomniac is making the leap to multiplatform for the first time as it also launches on the Xbox 360.
At a recent preview event we got to play the game hands on for the first time since its announcement. FUSE is an extremely cooperative-heavy game that will ask players to work together and use the unique character abilities strategically, whether they are in the story or coop multiplayer aspects of the game.
There are four characters in FUSE, each have a different FUSE weapon and special ability. These special weapons are powered by a volatile alien substance referred to as fusion power; this is a main element in the game’s story and gameplay mechanics.
During the vertical slice of the story mode we got to play, I was able to seamlessly switch between the 4 characters using the back button on the Xbox 360 controller which brought up a menu where I was able to select the available characters – this is called ‘LEAP’ and encourages players to use the various abilities in the story or coop mode.
During the preview I played with an EA representative, so I was able to freely switch between 3 characters freely. Since FUSE is a 4 player game regardless of the number of ‘human players’, during a single player session one would be able to take charge of any of the main characters on the fly with the push of a button – LEAP is a very sleek and useful feature which can also be used in the horde-esque multiplayer mode called ‘echelon’.
Echelon is a wave based and randomized 4 player coop mode where players will endure randomized waves of enemies and objectives on a given map. This is somewhat reminiscent of Killzone’s multiplayer mode that has switching objectives on the fly – a welcome change in the genre. Some of the objectives are to defend a post, attack a location or wipe out a wave of enemies.
There is no competitive multiplayer like team deathmatch in FUSE – the main object and motivation is to play together and combine fusion powers for maximum efficiency and fun. Playing FUSE in the story section and multiplayer modes were both enjoyable – the game is very responsive and had a solid frame rate as we have come to expect from Insomniac Games.
Whether you play the campaign or multiplayer modes, you will always earn XP and upgrade points in FUSE which will allow you to get better gear – this means players can earn points in a friend’s game and take them back to their story mode and use the upgrade points there – this is a nice concept and we will have to see how it actually plays out in the game when it releases later this ‘spring’ – EA was tight lipped on an exact release date for this Xbox 360 and PS3 game but hinted that there will be continued support after the game is released. There were also a few light suggestions on in mission upgrades, but we will have to see what that means.
FUSE feels a lot like some of the best third person shooters we have played previously with less of a weighty approach and more of a quick and responsive feel. The unique weapons in FUSE felt accurate and had good kickback – making the game fun to play. Some of the fusion based weapons are shields than can be dropped or exploded, a pulse rifle that has an area of effect explosion when triggered and more. Players also have a secondary weapon like a sniper or assault rifle equipped along with a side arm – this is an Insomniac game – there is no shortage of weapons. The enemy AI in this preview built was smart enough to flank us, attack us head on with jet pack like abilities or flush us out with grenades. When the FUSE meter was filled up – I was able to trigger an overlord type mode – where team has strengthened abilities and cause some serious havoc.
Of course there is a lot more to be explored until the game’s final retail version hits shelves later this year but from what we have seen, Insomniac has made some great strides toward building a unique and fun coop shooter that deserves more than a second look.
FUSE comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at some point in spring 2013.
This preview is based on a hands on demo of single player and multiplayer modes during a recent preview event.