Insomniac Games never ceases to amaze.  Even though not every game that they release is a guaranteed home run (Resistance 2 grinded for a while), Ted Price and his cohorts always put forth a grand effort that few third party teams can match.  Just play any of the Ratchet and Clank games and you’ll see what we mean.

It’s strange.  For the longest time, the team only worked on the PlayStation 3, producing exclusive content for Sony.  However, last summer, it shook up the system a bit when it announced that it was working with Electronic Arts on a new third party project.  That game, Overstrike, was first shown at E3 via a brief trailer, featuring over-the-top gameplay and a wink-in-the-eye presentation that the company was known for.

However, since that initial showing, we haven’t heard too much from Overstrike.  Was it still in development?  And if so, what was Insomniac up to?  We didn’t hear anything up until a few weeks ago, when the project re-emerged with a more mainstream action focus in mind.  Not only that, but it also received an intimidating new name – Fuse.

The game, which will be coming next year, continues to have the four members that were initially introduced in Overstrike, but rather than working with a cavalier rock-n-roll attitude, as they were in the debut trailer, this team is more tightly wound by military tactics, and it’s anything but a laugh as they try to defeat enemy forces.  That’s not to say the gameplay looks like it’ll suffer, though.  In fact, the focus on more genuine action may be the best thing going for it.

The plot to Fuse actually involves energy that goes by that same name.  It’s sometime in the near future, and this energy source has been adapted from strange alien beings.  However, it isn’t long before it lands in the wrong hands, and the quartet of soldiers must do whatever it takes – including using some of these powers – to retrieve it.

If you’re familiar with Insomniac’s Resistance franchise, then you know they can buckle down and create a swelling action experience.  From what we’ve seen thus far, that’s what Fuse is.  Each character has special abilities that prove very useful when it comes to battling enemies, whether in the middle of an ambush or charging into a power station to some capacity.  What’s more, each one is unique.

You’ll learn that quickly enough, because Fuse actually gives you an ability that most team-based games lack – being able to jump from one soldier to another almost instantaneously.  An ability known as Leap, this allows you to go from one soldier to the next, as you can utilize their talents depending on the situation, then go back to a favorite.  No matter which soldier you’re in, you’ll be able to earn experience points, which you can then turn around to enhance your special abilities so you can do some major damage.

The cool thing about the Fuse powers that you utilize is that they never run dry.  Granted, there are some bigger enemies that will be quite the challenge for you, so you’ll want to pull them out for the most ideal times, but it’s nice to see we don’t have to wait for a recharging period before being mown down like grass.  This game is about getting into the action, and staying in it.

Once you’ve got the power, though, you can increase your Fuse capabilities with the help of Fusion, getting bigger and nastier with them as you eliminate whatever’s in front of you.  Though we’ve only seen bits and pieces of how it works, there’s no question that Insomniac’s creative super-powers are still at their peak, even though the team is now working on two consoles.

Each agent will come with a skill tree, so you can enhance Fuse capabilities however you see fit, and check out how they’re performing down the line.  Some are on the offensive side of things, while others back you up with defense.  Either way, these terrorists really have something to fear once you’re at your best.

You don’t necessarily have to go into battle alone.  Though the game’s Leap technique is commendable, Fuse encourages others to join you in up to four-player online co-op through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.  Working efficiently as a team will net you even more XP, and perhaps even unlock a few goodies as you tear across the countryside.

Insomniac’s exclusive days may be behind them, but that doesn’t mean the developer is waning when it comes to putting together a wondrous game experience.  We’ll be looking back at Fuse with a hands-on report in the weeks ahead.  In the meantime, you might want to go ahead and get your pre-order in, as it’s dropping a megaton on you this March.  Light the Fuse.