One of the highlights during our week's stay in San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference was being invited up to Insomniac Games' suite, where we had a chance to play the company's latest game (and first multi-console effort) Fuse. This action game bears a similar resemblance to the goings-on of the company's previous Resistance games except in a third-person guise and relying more on a team effort than just one man. Ted Price, president of Insomniac, sat down to show us just how cohesively the cooperation factor is within the game.
In Fuse, you play as one of four agents on the Overstrike team assigned to take control of an alien technology named Fuse. Just before they can come to grips with it, a rival group called Raven seeks to take it over with the help of a Russian madman named Ivan Solvanko. The game has you battling with these forces while utilizing the Fuse in special ways.
Fuse supports up to four players in combat at once through online co-op across PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. If you have fewer players or you just feel like going through the game on your own, AI partners fill the other positions. One great part about the game is being able to switch between teammates at any time, in case you feel like flanking a certain position or taking advantage of that person's particular Fuse technique.
Each one has something different to offer and we had ample opportunity to try them all out. They are as follows...
Dalton, the leader of the Overstrike team, wields a weapon called the Magshield. It's mostly defensive though it does have some kick of its own. When activating this, you create an enormous electrical shield that deflects incoming bullets from enemies and allows your allies to fire through it. You can carry this shield with you or leave it in a stationary defensive position. The shield can also be used offensively to liquefy enemies if fired at the right trajectory.
Next up is Izzy, a loose-cannon who has a heavy reliance on the Shattergun. Using the Fuse, it fires glass rounds that are able to trap the given target in crystal. It's perfect for taking down groups of enemies and can shatter them upon impact. Even tougher foes don't stand much of a chance against this girl. Izzy is also quite useful when it comes to reviving allies, as she can drop a beacon from a distance to bring their health back if they're still in harm's way.
Jacob, a no-nonsense cop, definitely comes packing with his Arcshot. Though the slowest firing of the group, this is a real powerful piece. It can fire Fuse-covered bolts with mercury tips, enabling either an explosive or stun effect on anyone it detonates around. It's an excellent weapon when it comes to bringing someone down who's manning a turret, since normal gunfire won't affect it. It's also the most precise of the Fuse weapons and you can get a head shot with ease... when you're not running for cover, that is.
Finally, the fiery Naya means business with her Warp Rifle. This gun looks like just another laser cannon at first, but the Fuse bullets can create singularities that open up tiny black holes that suck up targets with ease. Even stronger shielded enemies don't stand a chance against the power of the Warp. In addition, Naya can also cloak so that she can sneak up behind foes to take them out without noticing – though bigger enemies can deactivate it if close enough.
The cooperative factor of the game is fantastic and you can easily plan out a team strategy before running into a room. Either you can go running in guns blazing (as we did during the demo, much to Ted's delight) or plan a strategy, calling out team members to go to certain spots and then moving forward with caution. No matter which way you go, the action feels like it's right on the level with Insomniac's prior efforts Resistance and Ratchet & Clank. The unpredictability of what weapons can do when certain effects are mixed together – like the Magshield and the Warp Rifle's black holes – keeps each co-op session fresh as well.
Also packing a punch are the boss battles. Though we only encountered one during the demo, it was against a nasty robot who fired all sorts of weaponry. After taking away a good chunk of its energy , it was nothing more than scrap metal – though the conclusion of the demo did introduce a bulked-up Ivan, ready to do some damage.
Fuse isn't too far off from release and it's looking like a fun action romp from Insomniac – so it's business as usual. Be sure to check it out when it arrives in stores May 28th.