Game Picks

Game Picks: ‘Fuse’

CorrespondentJune 6, 2013 

‘Fuse’ sci-fi combat game

emphasizes cooperative mode

It’s like I’ve always said: If there’s one thing better than shooting giant robots with advanced space rifles, it’s shooting giant robots with three of your pals and 20 or so different advanced space rifles.

The co-op third-person shooter “Fuse” (PS3, X360; $59.99; rated M) is a nicely streamlined sci-fi combat game with a heavy emphasis on networked team-based play. The game is designed from the ground up to be played in online cooperative mode, with complementary characters, weapons and combo attacks.

It’s all about teamwork with this game, set in a near-future world of military-industrial intrigue and paramilitary strike teams. The story, as set up in a brief expository intro sequence: A powerful alien technology code-named Fuse has fallen into the wrong hands. The Fuse technology makes possible super-advanced weaponry like the very fun Warp Rifle, which generates small but lethally effective dimensional breaches.

The CIA has called in your team to both secure the alien technology and use it against the bad guys – a rogue paramilitary group who would sell the deadly tech to the highest bidder. The baddies have also liberated a variety of robotic beasties from the prototype labs.

You play as any (or all) of the four team members. When going solo with AI-controlled allies, you can event switch from agent to agent during combat. Your team:

Dalton Brooks – the muscular, stoic type – fights with a Mag Shield, which provides a force field of movable cover that other team members can take advantage of.

Jacob Kimble – the wiry, nimble type – fights with a crossbow called the Arcshot, a sniper weapon with some delightfully fiery options.

Isabelle “Izzy” Sinclair – the slinky, sexy type – used the devastating shatter gun to encase enemies in ice and is the team’s resident medic.

Naya Deveraux – also the slinky, sexy type – is a close-quarter combat specialist with a cloaking weapon that allows for stealthy, quiet kills.

As the boilerplate class-based options suggest, Fuse isn’t overly concerned with characterization. But the game does put some effort into the dialogue and character banter, which reveals each team member’s personality and background. Personally, I like Naya. She seems like a sensible sort.

As the story progresses, the action moves into different environments, mostly top-secret government installations hidden in the desert or the jungle or other places. Each level is designed to work principally as a combat arena, and you won’t find much in the way of adventure or exploration options.

Combat uses the standard cover-shooting approach, although Fuse adds some fun arcade-like flourishes. As you kill off enemies or pull off particular combo attacks, the screen throws up congratulatory indicators (Head shot! Shatterburst!) plus bonus point tallies. It provides a kind of backward way into mastering the various cooperative attack strategies. “Oh! So that’s how you do that.”

As you earn bonus points for individual and team accomplishments, you can upgrade weapon options. Your weapons get more powerful at the same rate that you’re learning to leverage those complementary attack maneuvers. Meanwhile, in Campaign mode, the enemy AI and the battle scenarios ramp up in difficulty, too. The result is a solid and steady learning curve. Each mission can be further adjusted with three difficulty levels.

This is all good news if, like me, you’re the kind of gamer who can hold his own in a firefight but aren’t interested in hardcore shooter madness. Serious combat aficionados will want to try out the Echelon mode, in which your team faces off against waves of enemies within certain tactical scenarios.

And that’s actually what I like best about “Fuse.” It accommodates players of any skill level and provides a fast-paced, no-nonsense shoot ’em experience. There isn’t much in terms of story or sci-fi invention, but Fuse isn’t in that line of business. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and fire off a few nanotech particle beam weapons, you know?

Also New This Week: The DLC pack “Crysis 3: The Lost Island” (PC, PS3, X360); the free-to-play online game “Marvel Heroes” (PC) and the Neo-Paris sci-fi actioner “Remember Me” (PC, PS3, X360) – look for a full review on that next week.

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