First revealed as Overstrike back a few years ago, Fuse is the latest creation of Ratchet and Clank creators Insomniac. When it was revealed, Overstrike appeared to be a halfway point in art direction between realism and the ultra-cartoony style Ratchet and Clank was known for… and the weapons seemed like they would’ve fit right at home in Ratchet’s arsenal.
A few years later and it has transformed into Fuse, which is definitely a lot more realistic in terms of graphics than Overstrike seemed like it would be… but how far from the craziness originally proposed for this title has the game strayed and more importantly, is this a good thing?
So, Insomniac have been known for one thing over their life as a developer – fascinating weaponry. This is the cornerstone of Ratchet and Clank… and just to be blunt here: this ain’t Ratchet’s arsenal. Your character – whoever you choose to control – will have one fairly unique and fun weapon, and a bunch of mediocre and bland generic guns. Sure, the generic guns have ridiculous names to make them sound less generic, but that doesn’t make them any less generic. You have your standards: single-shot sniper, three-shot scoped rifle, semi-automatic handgun, shotgun, etc… but they’re all just generic weapons. I’ll be honest, this was a tremendous letdown for me as a fan of Ratchet and Clank and after what the initial reveal footage of Fuse had appeared to contain.
That isn’t to say that it’s all bad, the unique weaponry each character has really is unique. Each of the four characters has a specialty, and that specialty is seen in their weapons. One character is their support – a hacker whose weapon fires bolts that effectively stun enemies and the alternate fire heals. Another character is the covert ops; her weapon creates wormholes that blow crap up – and can cause chain reactions meaning MORE wormholes – and the alternate effect is a cloaking field allowing her to… well… sneak up on people for tons of hand to hand executions. Which leads into the next part… the hand to hand combat, while simplistic, is really fun to watch. The character I played most, Naya(the one with the cloaking and also conveniently sharing a name with my Mass Effect heroine), had some really acrobatic executions that made that part of the game fun to watch at least.
Fun to watch, if you can ignore the graphics. Once they stopped trying to make it cartoony, they really lost their focus and we end up with a third person shooter that really just looks like a slightly less realistic version of every other shooter. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough of an identity to really build a game on. Nothing about this game’s presentation is really anything special. Essentially the best way to describe it is ‘competent’. The graphics are decent, but not anything to write home about. The soundtrack fits, but isn’t terribly memorable. The voicework is well done, but won’t leave you eager to look up who did it.
And the story is no exception to that rule… they scratch the surface of something that has personality, but never really give you a chance to see it. Every once in a while the story shows you a hint of greatness – a moment that makes you think they might be onto something here – unfortunately those moments are few and far between. The characters deliver a lot of one-liners and some attempts at witty banter that mostly fall short… but that’s all there is. You never get a sense of these characters as characters, just as bad-humour-delivery-devices. And the story is of the same sort, there are some interesting tidbits revealed by the hidden documents and recordings but it just never really builds into anything memorable.
But none of that really got past the fact that the game was just really painfully generic. For a game with such a fascinating reveal… it was disappointing. That isn’t to say it didn’t have its moments. When you got into one of the many ‘generic rooms filled with tons of enemies’ the game got fun. Because that was when you got to take full advantage of your weapon’s special effect and start creating havoc. Wormholes, explosions, etc. etc. etc… it was a feast for the eyes and incredibly satisfying… sadly as the game drew on you saw less and less of that and more and more of the enemies that were largely immune to your special weapons and chain reactions.
Which also leads into the multiplayer… playing this in multiplayer is a lot better than the single player since you can really get some interesting combo effects and it adds a certain element of competition for score… the problem is that the game is still generic, and you still find yourself pitted against more and more enemies that you can’t use the cool stuff the game gives you against. Or well, you can… but it just does plain damage, not the fancy special effects that make it such fun.
To be frank with you, this game isn’t a bad game. It’s competent, it’s functional… it just isn’t special.