Amateur review of Xbox 360 game written for True Achievements website.
These days it is hard to write a game review without offending some part of the audience. Self-entitlement and rigid minds sets aside one should remember that games are means to be, of all things, fun… of course different people attach different meaning to that one word, but from where I am looking (my position being that of someone who have been playing games for 30+ years) Fuse certainly delivers all the requirements expected of a good game and then some...
Some of you will scroll past all this text to see my final score and will vote/comment based on your own perception and experience of the game, like or dislike for the developer or publisher. Others will express their opinion based on presence or absence of specific voice actors, game play elements or graphical assets. Others will even judge a game by its cover... I cannot stop you from doing any of that, however if you are interested in knowing what I think about it, I do invite you to read on.
The Plot (minor spoilers)
So, what exactly happens when a fire team (a group of 4 individuals) gets their hands of fringe tech based around exotic element called Fuse?
The promise of the game is simple enough, you (and your 3 friends, should you so desire) are taking control of specialised agents from Overstrike organisation and will be embarking on a mission for a secretive, though well connected client to address some issues that have recently cropped up in his organisation’s “clean energy” program.
Soon enough your team will realise that the “clean energy” has nothing to do with “clean” and that the word energy is used liberally and quite possibly applies to just how much effort and said energy is being put into making other people (those who oppose your point of view) permanently retired… and in a very messy way too.
From there on the whole thing quickly blows out of proportions and thrusts your band of misfits into the role of saviours of the Free World (no pressure), except of course your team does not really take said role seriously, which is often underlined by amusing comments offered by its members (voiced by well-known industry veterans such as Jennifer Hale, Ali Hillis, Brian Bloom and others). In short imagine what would happen when you put FemShep, Liara and Varric Tethras into a same room… and it probably will happen.
Your team will traverse six locations (ranging from underground research facilities, underwater station, tropical island, snow covered mountain hideouts and even a top secret space station… to name the few) in their attempt to get rid of the world of sinister conspiracy, a rogue PMC and alongside of getting paid (saving the world can be expensive), killing little over thusand bad guys and destroying a lot of environment, you will be given opportunities to address issues ranging from backstabbing girlfriends, misguided politicians, Russian psychopaths, daddy issues, unauthorised use of weapons of mass destruction, equipment theft and so on and so forth…
Some of you, without a doubt will note that there is nothing original going on in here. With that in mind I ask, does everything need to be original, gut wrenching, epic in its scope or pretending to maintain some sort of artistic integrity in its creation? Can we not have a game that is just fun to play with an easy going plot and a very solid game play? I think we can and I believe that Fuse is exactly that. In short, one does not watch Expendables with the expectation of it being akin of Shakespeare... right?
Your team will be composed of 4 combatants, whom, while equally skilled with standard weapons and hand to hand combat, specialise in a use of a specific fringe weapon (obtained early on during the first mission). That very specialisation is where the class system is introduced into the game play and knowing both strengths and weaknesses of those specialisations and how they complement each other is the key to your team’s success.
Your team's roster is:
Dalton plays the role of tank, his Mag Shield is there to provide a mobile cover, and soak up the damage (and in some cases reflect it back at the enemies),
Jacob plays the role of long range damage dealer, sniper if you will, his crossbow is there to melt (literary) and otherwise maim those who happen to be unfortunate enough (or stupid enough) to be pointing their guns at you,
Naya plays the role of close range damage dealer, thanks to her cloaking abilities she can move through the battlefield almost unchallenged wreaking havoc at times of her choosing, her strengths lies in mobility and ability to flank and surprise high value (or just annoying) targets,
Izzy plays the role of medic and crowd controller, she can deploy healing beacons and temporary freeze (crystalise) large quantities of enemies (and sometimes even minor bosses) in their tracks,
Apart from their fuse augmented fringe weapons each agent comes equipped with two other guns (a one handed and two handed gun) and in here the choice is a bit more open, though still limited to 4x two handed weapons (scoped sniper rifle, assault rifle, shotgun and a burst mode carbine with a basic scope) and 2x one handed weapons (pistol and submachine gun) to choose from. All of the above is complemented by a handful of grenades and occasional heavy weapon (that once out of ammo becomes nothing more than a paperweight).
It has been my experience and in this particular case it appears to be enough as anything more than that would probably just complicate the choices and quite possibly get the mechanics into trouble with all kinds of balancing issues where individual weapons are concerned.
Each agent has a skill tree from which talents (passive and active) can be unlocked as they advance from level 1 to level 35 (at level 35 you will have access to all your talents, eventually making this a linear progression, one that only forces you to choose your preferred talents early on as it delivers them all in the end). Variety of outfits and weapon skins (both serious or just for fun) that can be used in echelon mode or individual missions after the main campaign has been completed at least once and a perk (selectable bonus that individual agent benefits the whole team for a duration of an individual mission) are also present for you to choose from (and some are specific to a small pre-order DLC).
Well polished interface, solid game play (with 4 difficulty modes) and well detailed environments supplemented with option of leaping from one agent to another at any time during the mission (as long as said agent is not occupied by another player) are driven by main campaign and complemented with so called echelon mode (a modified horde mode that all Mass Effect 3 multiplayer fans will find themselves very familiar with, that being based around 12 waves of enemies intertwined with randomly generated objectives). All of it available with an option of coop or AI supported gameplay (with AI being good enough on easy, normal and hard levels of difficulty and able to use unlocked talents competently enough).
You will need at least two full playthroughs (one to unlock the lethal level of difficulty, assuming you start on hard and another to complete it) and at least 6 echelon sessions if you are hoping to earn all the achievements the game has to offer, depending on your skill and speed and the quality of those playing alongside of you (some achievements do require coop mode) I would estimate that netting the full 1000 game score will take you about 25 hours plus of game time.
Point By Point
- Excellent and well polished game play,
- Detailed environments, decent graphics, appropriate for the setting and game play,
- Competent AI (needs to be levelled manually in solo mode),
- Decent mini bosses and bosses fights,
- Well defined class system and associated mechanics,
- Superb voice acting and in party dialogues (at times unique to characters you are controlling at the time of key events),
- Awesome one-liners,
- Outstanding grouping of four misfits and their attempts at saving the world,
- Not shy on melee violence and other spectacular death effects,
- Inability to customise standard weapons loadout prior to the mission or echelon session (change of weapons requires looting dead enemies),
- Somewhat simplistic and at times disappointing music soundtrack,
- Inability to discover the skill or level of your coop partners ahead of session time,
- Reliance on each class doing their job just right may lead to disappointing experience in echelon if you end up in a group with people not experienced with the class mechanics,
- AI may be insufficient for lethal difficulty and some specific echelon scenarios,
- Very rare texture rendering problem,
Fuse is a perfect example how game publishing should work, even though it is a product published by EA, there is no Online Pass, signing up with Origin is optional, offline and same/split screen play are included (both campaign and echelon mode) and the developers maintain the ownership of the intellectual property they clearly worked so very hard on bringing to you. One can only hope that people are taking notes...
In the end I rate Fuse 5 out of 5 (I am not a half star user), because it delivered exactly what I wanted, what I was looking for at the time of me playing the game and because, for me it is a keeper. My rating is not about "its better than this but worst than that". It simply is about the game being good and fun enough at the right time and place...
The rating is based on 32 hours of game play...