I was pretty excited when Insomniac revealed Overstrike at E3 back in 2011. It was actually my favorite trailer from any presentation that year. I liked the look of it and the apparent humor, and although I am a PlayStation 3 gamer was happy to see that Insomniac was going multiplatform so that more people could enjoy their outstanding work. And then the game fell off everyone’s radar, only to come back later with a new title and no cartoonish art. I didn’t think that would bode well for the new IP, and especially one I was looking forward to in large part because of the art, but now that I’ve actually played the Fuse demo a few times I am totally sold.
Fuse is a four-player co-op third person shooter, only can play it solo. Actually, when I played the demo solo, I had a great time. This is some smart AI; both the enemies AND the bots that serve as your teammates. I would seriously have a hard time naming any game that I’ve played that has better AI partners. These bots are taking cover, kill enemies, doing actions to benefit the team, and sprinting carefully around the map to get to a fallen comrade. It’s actually pretty amazing. I’ve heard they were smart, but until you see it for yourself you aren’t likely to believe it. Insomniac did a really fantastic job here.
Speaking of smart, I have to say the first play-through of the demo was pretty challenging even on normal. I’ve played tons and tons of third person shooters, they are my favorite types of games, and like to think I’m pretty good at them. So when I first loaded it up and got finished do some climbing, I went running off without a care in the world for my AI buddies. I quickly got put down. It was too long after one of the bots rushed to my aid that I was down again.
Did I get frustrated? No, I welcomed the challenge. I’m used to third person shooters being relatively easy and trying to make up for it by throwing wave after wave of enemies at you. Fuse didn’t do that, instead the enemies are smart. They were popping in and out of cover and pelting me with deadly accuracy (but it didn’t feel like they were cheating, like some games do). They were throwing well timed, and well placed, grenades, and they even seemed to be helping each other out. These enemies also were not suicidal, they were quick to retreat to better ground or dash to nearby cover, and when possible, try to flank. It’s all quite impressive, and the more I played it the better liked it and the better I got at it. Finally, a third person shooter that you have to play smart and take advantage of what you have and no just run around like Rambo, all way having great bot friends that never make you feel like you’re having a more difficult time than you would if you were playing it co-op.
You can choose to play as one of four characters (although if you’re playing single player you can effortlessly and quickly switch between characters almost anytime you want to. Each character has a unique ability that not only benefits the player, but the entire team if you play it right. I’ve spent the bulk of my time so far playing as Dalton. He has the Magshield weapon, which allows him to put up a force shield in front of him and then bash an enemy or enemies with it. This can benefit the team by bringing the shield up and the rest getting behind it and pushing forward, or if you’re pinned down you can deploy the shield freestanding and everyone can stand behind it and shoot the enemies through it while taking no damage yourself. It’s a great ability and has quickly become my favorite.
Next to Dalton, the other character I have really enjoyed playing as is Naya. She has a Warp Rifle that can open black holes to rip apart enemies, and yes that is as awesome as it sounds. More importantly, she also posses the ability to cloak herself and move around undetected, which is a great way to get behind an enemy and snap their neck or just open up fire.
I’ve also liked playing as Isabella, who is basically the team medic. She has a pretty awesome weapon herself called the Shattergun, which basically freezes enemies and keeps them that way until they’re shattered; a very useful weapon indeed, especially in tight situations. Isabella can also throw down healing beacons, which can allow teammates to restore some health and helps revive downed teammates.
Finally, there is Jacob, who I haven’t played a whole lot of (maybe just a minute or two). He’s the long range guy, basically a sniper with a long range crossbow called the Arcshot. It can fry enemies with molten mercury, and he lay down traps. He seems like a fine character, but really I prefer to play as any of the others (particularly Dalton or Naya since I like their abilities/weapons so much more).
There’s a couple of parts to the demo, including one where you’re facing two bosses (mini-bosses? I’m not sure, there’s no context) that are mechs. These guys are tough. One has a big machine gun, the other a flamethrower. Together, they are relentless and deadly, and yes it takes quite a lot of damage to bring these things down. The battle is really the highlight of what is already a fantastic demo, and if this is what Insomniac has chose to give away in the demo, I can’t wait to see what all they are saving for the full game that’s similar or much more awesome in scope.
This game, I think personally, has flown under way too many radars. And as it nears it’s May 28th release, I can only hope that anyone with a PS3 or Xbox 360 connected to the Internet has taken the time to download this demo and give this game a try. It does exactly what a demo should do: gives you a large enough taste of the game to get you hooked and wanting to buy the full product. By now, everyone should have faith in Insomniac (after all, have they ever not delivered a game that wasn’t at the very least “good”?), and Fuse looks like it could be one of their best games yet.
If you haven’t tried the demo yet, I HIGHLY recommend that you do so as soon as possible. You know it’s a good demo, and pretty special, when you can just keep playing the demo over and over again and come away liking something different each time. Gamers are always complaining about sequels and not getting new IP’s, well here is a brand new IP delivered basically right near the end of a generation that looks and plays wonderfully.
Fuse will be available on May 28th for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.