In the near-future, cameras are weaponized with lens flares and orange armor.

FUSE (or Fuse, if you prefer) is a third person action co-op third person shooter in development by Insomniac games. Originally the cartoonish hybrid of James Bond, the Incredibles, and Mission Impossible, Insomniac took a year's worth of development to change the feel of the game. Was it worth the effort?

As it would seem, despite every doubt in my mind as to how it could fail -- yes, it actually was worth it, and it actually does differ from the pack. FUSE is probably one of the most promising action games I've seen yet, but not entirely for the reasons they keep telling you it will. Yes, the co-op is good. Yes, the new weapons are certainly a wrinkle on standard play, but it's the small details that actually sell you on the potential final product.

"This is the last time I let you 'talk it out' with my parents!" "How was I supposed to know they had an army?"

FUSE at first seems like fairly standard third person fair. There's a streamlined and relatively unfailable opening platforming section (using platforming in the loosest terminology -ever-), you get up a hill, and you get a cutscene showing you the first area of combat so you get a nice long look. Then, the game does something unexpected -- the training wheels come off before you've even seen a tutorial.

Needless to say there is probably a tutorial in the final game, but the demo focuses purely on getting you into the action, so check your options menu, go to controls, and read the button layout, because this is one of the few games that doesn't actually assign every action to a context sensitive button. You want cover? Okay, cover is Circle. You want to sprint? Hold down X. Roll? Tap X. Melee? Triangle. There is no "on size fits every context" cop-out here. For the first time since I don't know when, I actually could get into cover without accidentally rolling head first into it because the game hadn't caught up with me.

In addition, you can finally carry three weapons, like in the original Killzone. A pistol, a regular weapon, and your FUSE weapon. Each character has a specific FUSE weapon and abilities that come with it, and generally fit the role of stealthy up close ninja, main tank with portable shield who can distract big enemies, sniper with accuracy centric weapon, and healer/enemy debuffer with an ability to damages and freezes enemies in place temporarily; and like in Bulletstorm, it's usually best to mix your FUSE weapons together. Regular weapons are fairly standard although they still genuinely handle a bit different than your average TPS. The sniper rifle Izzy (the healer) starts with, for instance, is still a laser rifle and can zap multiple enemies (at least based upon my observations). In general, all weapons clearly serve a purpose, and you can figure out their focus upon picking them up. Usually you'll end up using them when your FUSE weapon is empty (or in Dalton's case, whenever you aren't using his Mag Shield), but thankfully ammo is plentiful. Also, the game features a "Leap" ability that lets you swap your character out, so if you're low on ammo, you can just switch to a new character. This also lets you change tactics and manage the roles your squadmates fill.

After a mission in Serbia, Dalton was demoted from being in charge of public relations.

Guns aren't much use though without something to shoot at. FUSE is very happy to oblige, with some of the most creative, intelligent, and aggressive AI I've seen in years. Snipers continually use jetpacks to flank and pound you and don't hesitate. Main troops will flank and move from cover to cover. Stealth is actually a viable option if you can pull it off, as the AI seems to genuinely not notice you if you're behind a wall, but if you're too obvious or a teammate runs to close, they notice.

Not only do they notice, they actually carry differing weapons. Some will have shotguns, some will have heavy assault rifles, others will have burst fire SMGs, and they all actually use them appropriately. The AI does have some hang-ups, but you can let that go when they actually managed to make mech-suit enemies that are more imposing and mobile than the ATLAS mechs from Mass Effect 3, and that present a genuine, non-linear mini-boss-esque situation that most games still can't come to grips with. Also, the melee combat is surprisingly enjoying and visceral due to a large number of animations that are context sensitive and the ability to melee enemies behind your cover, in front of your cover, alongside your cover, and outside of cover all with different means of attack.

There is one complaint about the AI though that must be brought up -- your teammates. For the most part, they do a decent job, and will actually get kills, but there are... hang ups. There seems to be a glitch in their logic where there's almost always someone hiding so far back from the fight early on that they practically aren't even within range to shoot anything. Also, there was a glitch at one point during an offline match with me and bots, where they suddenly spontaneously started shooting upon me starting a rally sequence. They continued to shoot, endlessly, until we moved on to the next section. This didn't actually affect any of the gameplay, but it's the kind of bug you really hope will get ironed out over the next few weeks before release.

As far as terms in story go... the demo is light on them, and it seems to benefit from just letting the main protagonists spout a few funny lines here and there. The overall narrative is obvious to the point that Insomniac hasn't even hidden the fact one enemy will essentially become this thing at some point in the main game -- if you for some reason really don't want spoilers for this, even though the story doesn't look that good beyond a standard action game with some possibly unique leads, skip the image below.


The overall idea is -- you're a spec ops team of misfits who have to stop an evil PMC-ish terrorist group named Raven who apparently have an entire army and have found a US military base experimenting with the alien element dubbed "Fuse". Shockingly enough, Raven's intentions aren't that noble (if the above image wasn't a clear enough hint) and you end up fighting them on your own, losing support of Overstrike command and having to go at it even to the reaches of space (if the trailers are to be believed). Not exactly gritty, but not exactly kid friendly either. I won't lie, I still feel like they could have done something very similar to this, but kept that older art aesthetic, not that that changes anything.

If you couldn't guess from my previously stated issues with AI, this is a game best played with friends, or at least random people on the internet with headsets. You will do significantly better, and the gameplay truly shines as a cooperative experience. If you're playing this game offline, you're doing it wrong. Yes, in theory someone with an offline PS3 or Xbox 360 (sorry, no PC version apparently) could play this, but you should at least use the couch co-op option the game offers. I could see four friends, two of which having consoles, blazing through this and having great fun. That said though, it may be best to actually not have a full capacity party. With the leap ability, you could all swap characters rather easily, and as a result, be free to swap up when you couldn't in full four player co-op -- just something to consider if you and your friends usually pre-order games together.

Apparently Izzy is Isaac Clarke's ancestor. Go figure...

Speaking finally of pre-orders... I actually am debating pre-ordering this, based on the demo. I was getting more and more doubtful and less and less enthused with every announcement, update, and new trailer, but it really holds up well. The progression system is like the Syndicate reboot, in that it's less about choices and more about just prioritizing what you want unlocked first, and if I understand correctly, there is going to be at least one mode of play outside of campaign, but I'm not sure if it will be DLC or not. One thing I am sure of though -- there will be no microtransactions, there will be online pass, there will simply be the game, whether you buy used or new, even though it's an EA game. That alone feels like something worth encouraging.

I know, it's weird, giving a positive review/preview. But we all knew this time would come.

FUSE is coming out for PS3 and Xbox 360 May 28 for North American and May 31 for Europe. Pre-order bonuses include a bonus bunch of spiffy armor, a damage mod, and some custom weapon skins. It's retailing for roughly $60, and available for pre-order. To date, it won't feature any competitive multiplayer, but considering all that's on offer, would you even need/want it?

Credits to pixelenemy for original post of Youtube video.

Paradigm the Fallen

Let the world surprise you. Let a potential failure be a success, if it is, and help fix it, if it remains a failure.

Trivia -- Of all the characters, Dalton is the most like his original character model in Overstrike. Even his massively oversized chin.