Our universe is full of things that no one understands, are dangerous, and sometimes better left alone. Of course humans, being what we are, will continue to prod at the unknown until we are either destroyed by it or gain control over it. Fuse is just such an entity – dangerous, volatile, unpredictable and the latest factor in the race to be the strongest, meanest and, of course, the richest.
Not much is known about Fuse except for the fact that it is a powerful alien technology that can be combined with known materials to create unknown, powerful and exceptionally dangerous objects such as weapons, shields and armour. Basically whoever controls Fuse, controls almost unlimited power. Naturally this means that there are many nefarious individuals who will do whatever it takes to get control of Fuse, and the most dangerous of them all, the Raven Corporation, is leading the race in this regard.
So when a secret military science lab named Hyperion and purportedly working on scientific research to benefit mankind is invaded by the Raven Corporation in search of Fuse, the Overstrike 9 team is called in to clean up the mess. Overstrike 9 is made up of four very different characters, who are definitely not military affiliated, and whose job it is to complete missions ‘under the radar.’ Hyperion may have started off with good intentions, but they soon realised the military (and economic) benefits of Fuse and started developing weaponry.
The characters all have different back stories and, whilst we are not provided with much detail of these back stories, they are all entertaining to play. The game provides a Leap system that allows the player to switch between characters whilst playing (just not when you are on the floor in a bloody heap waiting to be revived). Each agent is equipped with a single handed weapon (either a Guardian or a Dragonfly), a two-handed weapon (the Daybreaker, the Harbinger, the Prowler or the Savager) and a Xenotech weapon.
The weapons make this game great fun. You can equip your agent with whatever single handed or two-handed weapon you want (depending on whether you want a sniper, melee or ranged fighting style) but each agent has a Xenotech weapon that is specifically allocated to them. A Xenotech weapon is a basic weapon that has been enhanced with Fuse technology to turn it into something special, and the power of these weapons can be upgraded throughout the game. Because of the difference in weaponry, teamwork plays a vital role in the successful completion of the missions.
The agents are experienced soldiers, but each one brings their own unique brand to the game making them each very different to play. I enjoyed the synergy of humour and total destructiveness that each character employs, and the ease at which they can switch from joking around to being completely deadly.
The leader of Overstrike 9 is Dalton Brooks, a former Raven soldier who is a grizzled veteran of these high tech wars and has a great sarcastic sense of humour. His Xenotech weapon is the Magshield, which can deflect projectiles whilst protecting the team in the process. When I was playing as other characters I would often rely on Dalton to provide the necessary cover for me to do my job.
The next character is the intelligence expert, Isabelle Sinclair. Called Izzy throughout the game, her weapon is the Shattergun which encases her enemies in melanite and can also deploy medical aid to her teammates. Next in the team is Jacob Kimble (my personal favourite), an ex-policeman from the LAPD who is considered the sniper of the team. His weapon is the Arcshot which shoots bolts of deadliness, and can even be upgraded to explode when triggered. The Arcshot is a fantastic weapon and gives you the opportunity to skewer your enemies like a kebab.
The team is completed with a stealth combatant, the deadly but gorgeous Naya Deveraux. Her father is a highly ranked operative within the Raven corporation and it is her mission to extract him safely from the dangerous and precarious occupation he has chosen for himself. Her Xenotech weapon is called the Warp Rifle, which basically creates tiny black holes in her enemies, the consequences of which are quite severe. Depending on upgrades, Naya also has the ability to cloak herself and keep busy with a few stealthy assassinations.
It is very obvious that this game is meant to be played co-operatively. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to do this, but still had great fun playing solo. I found the AI of the characters to be quite good and I was able to work together with the team very successfully. Dalton’s Magshield was especially well used throughout the game and, as I was playing on hard mode, the opportunities for the team to revive me were very frequent indeed. Fortunately for me, the team very rarely let me down and, if they did, it was normally because they were in the process of dying as well. I played most of the game as Jacob Kimble but I did switch to other characters when I felt the situation demanded it.
One of the things that I noticed while playing the game was the high quality of the graphics, the underwater Raven facility chapter being especially good. This is also the chapter where you can get the Bro Code Violation for assassinating a Raven Agent whilst he is busy at the urinal.
Fuse is not without its flaws however. The campaign mission is great fun but the Echelon (survival) mission is quite boring. It’s just a bit too much of “more of the same” for me, but it does give you a Fuse fix if your time is limited. The other thing that I would have liked is a bit more story to the game, in terms of the plot but especially in terms of the agents. I would like to have been able to learn a lot more about them. I suppose this can be seen as the player’s interest being piqued, which is a good thing, but I was left wanting to know a bit more. There were a few times when the AI let me down but this didn’t happen often enough to make it an issue. In fact I have played with a few co-op partners before that are much sillier than the AI demonstrated in this game.
I would recommend Fuse to all mature gamers, this is especially true if you have a friend (or three) that are keen to join in because of the strategy and teamwork needed in the game. The plot, weaponry, characters and game environment are all interesting, making this worth your while to pick up and immerse yourself in.