The lights are on
I want to state first off that, while I did not enjoy Fuse nearly as much as Dan and Reiner seemed to have during their playthrough together, I did not loathe or hate it nearly as much as some of my cohorts have, so I therefore lie somewhere in the middle between the two parties. Fuse is yet another solid game from the talented people at Insomniac Games, although it is definitely one that will grow stale long before mold starts to grow on the Ratchet and Clank series, due mainly to some of the more cumbersome annoyances and fallbacks present. Fuse is a game that is a blast to play in cooperative mode, mainly so that you can share the painful moments with three other friends, and not suffer alone and in silence. The game is still exciting when played solo, but a lot of the over-the-top action is missing due to your AI compatriots' inability to function at 100% during combat, and their lackluster mission performances- forcing you to do the majority of the work alone. When you have characters as cool as Naya, Dalton, Izzy, and Jacob- it's hard not to expect great things from them, and that is in essence the majority of the letdown that single player provides during gameplay and narrative.
The weapons of Fuse are certainly one of its coolest aspects, despite my only being enamored of really two of the four weapons personally- Dalton's Mag Shield and Jacob's Mercury Crossbow Bolts. In a game where you can choose to either a) liquify your enemies with molten crossbow bolts, b) reflect their bullets back at them in an incinerating blast, c) crystallize and shatter your foes, and d) suck enemies into a black hole- it's hard to choose just what devastating powers and weapons to use at any one time. They all sound viable to me. In order from my favorite to least favorite, I'd have to rank the weapons as the Liquid Mercury Crossbow, Mag Shield, Antimatter Rifle, and Crystal Rifle. Now, my favorite players are of course Dalton and Jacob because of their weapons that I normally employ the most, however, all of the characters play pretty similarly and I enjoyed playing as Izzy and Naya as well, though Naya more because of her Black Hole-shooting gun.
My biggest complaint with Fuse is simply the lack of a really varied enemy force, as well as a lack of environments and terrain. Sadly, even such epic combat encounters as those found in the beginning moments of Fuse can become routine and mundane by the end of the game, roughly six or seven hours or so later. The action is still quite fun and hectic, but it all becomes a little bit too routine as the game progresses, and takes away from the initial appeal and replay value as well in some ways. Combine this with the fact that, not only is the enemy AI pretty bad and laughably easy to overcome, but your own allied AI isn't much better, and you've soiled the adventure somewhat. Sure, you're able to control virtually any of the four characters you wish to at any time throughout the single player campaign, through utilization of the 'leap' mechanic, but you will still have to deal with the fact that at any given time you have three nearly-useless allies fighting with you against your enemies. Luckily, they won't use most of the same resources as you, so the only thing you'll really have to deal with them through is reviving or certain team specific areas. Otherwise, you can virtually ignore them, and they'll pretty much dog along faithfully behind you. Of course, in the cooperative campaign, you can go through the same story experience, while also enjoying a more varied degree of skill and action with three other players at your side who are most likely more useful and fun to hang around than your AI companions.
To add to the already massive levels of destruction that you can cause with four awe-inspiring weapons, there is also a relatively extensive upgrade system to complement each character and the team as a whole. Now, I see why some complaints are made against the system, but in my own humble opinion, the upgrade 'trees' actually aren't as abominable or useless as some people would have you believe. There are several tiers of upgrades, and multiple categories for each as well, concerning various characters, weapons, team perks, and much, much more. In all actuality, while there are four separate skill trees for the individual characters, each one is very similar in layout and construction, which isn't necessarily a bad thing- merely an inconvenience when you could've made one giant skill tree to pertain to all of them. There are team kill bonuses, fuse material bonuses and additions to your armaments, infinite ammo, and many other perks to peruse and purchase. The only thing that could've made this decent addition much better would have been o grant each player a different, unique bonus power to their weapons, instead of essentially the same fuse bonuses for each of them.
It took me about seven hours or so to beat the game on the normal difficulty level, with about half of the achievements unlocked. So, the game is about as long, or a little longer than your average shooter, and it features about the same number of unlockable achievements in one playthrough. I've since started a second playthrough, and it seems as if you can unlock about 90% of the total achievements in two playthroughs, while the others require certain scores in Echelon mode to unlock, or thousands of kills in either mode. The game's replayability is moderately high, despite some mitigating factors on the enjoyability the second or subsequent times through- cutscene loading, tedium, etc. Multiple characters to level up, special unlockables and collectables to find in the levels, and an increased difficulty make the game worth at least one more playthrough in my mind. Of course, there is also the equally viable Echelon mode, for those of you who want to level up without having to sit through the story mode another time. You can grind levels with the best of them this way, and it increases some of the insane action, difficulty, and variety as well. There are several waves of enemies to battle your way through, a few maps, and a less painful story to deal with- because there isn't a story at all. It's just good old survival.
Fuse is nowhere near as bad as as some of my fellow designers and friends have been telling me, but it is also nowhere near as good as it showed the potential to be, and nowhere near as good as some of my other fellows told me it was. I guess I'll simply put it down to being one of those games that people can take a lot of different things away from, and that enjoyability levels can vary between people playing and the consoles they play it on, perhaps. One thing is for certain- the game isn't perfect, because it makes a few mistakes along the way. The allied and enemy AI, some unsightly glitches and visual problems, and the lack of a really coherent story are just a few of the most criticized details and issues. There is plenty to enjoy about Fuse, despite numerous detracting factors present throughout the gameplay and game itself, so I'd definitely recommend it to fans of action-heavy cooperative games, for example, Anarchy Reigns or Borderlands 2.
Concept: Utilizing some unique weapons and abilities, follow a mercenary, a hacker, a detective, and an assassin on an exciting adventure fueled by kill rampages and over-the-top action moments.
Graphics: The graphics themselves are alright and nothing to scoff at, but enemy models and characters could use some more variety, as could the environments throughout levels. Different levels have relatively varied environments, but the areas within the same levels all look virtually the same, and it is easier to get lost in self-same rooms than it should be.
Sound: Easily the weakest of the game's components, there isn't a strong musical score to be heard, and the voice acting is only alright overall, with some generic callouts and no real distinguishing voicework.
Playability: Despite marginally distressing reticules for the weapons, the gunplay is smooth, the controls tight, and the game easily accessible and playable for both consoles.
Entertainment: The single player campaign may seem a bit drawn out, with your AI companions as your only source of support, however, the cooperative mode and Echelon arena mode is a blast to play with at least one of your friends, and highly recommended.
Replay Value: Moderately High.
Overall Score: 7.25