Friday, May 30, 2014

Fuse and Other People


I went out to pick up a game I've been meaning to for a very long time now. When it first released, I was spared the uncomfortable situation of choosing to put down $60 on a new game, because my PlayStation 3 died before it released. There was no video game playing for an entire year, and now that I'm back into the swing of things, I decided to pick up Fuse.

Fuse is a good game, at times it even achieves greatness. My time spent playing has had the same thought repeating over and over, "I can't believe how much of a steal this is for $20!" from the entire campaign to Echelon mode. This is a game that I feel a lot of people have done a great disservice by avoiding it, but to be fair, Insomniac Games did themselves no favors with their presentation.


What Went Wrong?

The universal criticism aimed at Fuse was the change in concept when the game was first announced as Overstrike. A visual mix up of Team Fortress 2 slash No One Lives Forever slash The Incredibles. Here is both a valid and invalid point. Fuse looks great; it doesn't have as much personality as Overstrike, or better said, it has a different personality than Overstrike had. What went wrong was when the game was first announced, the visual styling made a statement based on it's existence. It turned some people on, it turned some people off, that's what having a personality is all about. Where the tires left the road was when the switch occurred it alienated the fanbase who were excited to play Overstrike, and at the same time did nothing for the people who already were not interested.

Hidden Potential

As an author, one of the common critiques on a manuscript by a editor goes this way, "Your book begins on page one, but your story doesn't actually begin until page fifty. Find a way to start the book there." likewise, Fuse starts on Chapter One, but doesn't begin until Chapter Three. The first two levels consist of military complexes and stock encounters. The third level is where the exotic locations and inventive encounter design show up. The player must go through two very lengthy chapters to experience the game they were promised. Insomniac Games is entirely at fault for this choice. In a world where first impressions matter the most and the majority of players rarely reach the end of the game, it's no wonder Fuse received a lukewarm reception.

But it's good!

At the end of the day, Fuse looks nice. A weak demo and uninspired two levels hurt this title more than anything. I say this in a very general way, as I had issues more than the presentation, but it was exactly the presentation that turned so many away from this gem. The dialogue is lively, the level design allows for different gameplay styles, and it's just fun. Sadly, I fear the worst.

The Carcass

Fuse is the spiritual gameplay sequel to Resistance 2's 8-player cooperative mode, hence why Resistance 3 only had standard multiplayer.  I expect that Fuse is dead, and the gameplay will be given to another franchise to bank on. As of right now, there is not a single mention of the Fuse franchise by Insomniac. Insomniac may have learned not to show anything until it's absolutely ready (Overstrike to Fuse), and they don't want to lose any momentum on Sunset Overdrive and Outernaughts, and that very well may be the case.

I imagine much of the issues with Fuse comes from being an EA Partners title, a program that no longer exists today. I like Insomniac Games, I really do. They are one of the finest independent developers working right now, and I wish them success on all their projects. But I have the feeling that Fuse is dead, and that's a shame, because I love it a lot.