What happened to the squad command, tactical shooter? Well I mean it’s a thing of the past, but why? Did no one appreciate them as much as I did? Games like Conflict: Take Your Pick (Desert Storm, Desert Storm 2, Global Terror, etc), SOCOM, a handful of Tom Clancy games, and Brute Force. Apparently there is a lack of interest in these types of games because they have been less prevalent recently. With the exception of pervading Tom Clancy titles and the Mass Effect series there are not too many other big name squad combat games. A game called Fuse lit a fuse attached to a bomb called excitement. Could it do this genre justice?
The PS3/Xbox 360 game looks and feels like many of the games mentioned above. There are four squad members; each with a unique talent that makes them useful, and of course, they are the only ones who can save the day. Playing solo you can easily switch between all four characters, or play primarily as your favorite and direct the others via squad commands. Playing co-op split screen is possible, however, playing with three or four people will require a second console and copy of the game. This is a shame, but it is true of so many games these days. The couch co-op has been effectively shut down. While this seems like a money grubbing tactic, it is what it is, so either shell out the cash, or play with two players.
Moving on to topics of more excitement, the game begins pretty quickly which is nice. Combat is thrown at the player right away, and soon enough we discover why the game is called “Fuse”. The characters walk into a lab where (conveniently enough) there are exactly four experimental weapons laying around for the taking. Each character grabs one and the game effectively becomes a follow up to Brute Force. The difference is, instead of each character having a special ability, their gun does. Some of them make for brilliant team combos, such as freezing an enemy and having your buddy run up and blast him with a shotgun. This makes for exciting, dynamic gameplay throughout the story. The story itself is an average length for a shooter. Not disappointingly short, but also not as long as many of the Conflict games, Brute Force, etc. This seems to be another unfortunate downfall of modern gaming, but again, this is a topic for another time.
The story is actually quite interesting. I will not spoil anything here, but it basically revolves around fusion. This is what powers your weapons and is the center of the potentially deadly research being performed by the bad guys. I’ll admit that while the Conflict games were fun there was never a very deep story, it was just fun to tactically move around levels and shoot bad guys. Fuse adds to that fun by providing an exciting storyline to follow.
What gives Fuse more lasting value than the story alone could provide is the Echelon mode. Echelon is a level based survival mode where waves of enemies get increasingly more challenging. This has become popular in recent years after things like Zombies in Call of Duty, Horde mode in Gears of War, and Firefight mode in Halo: Reach. There is a slight twist in Echelon in that players are given objectives periodically such as: defend a base, deliver a fuse core, capture a point, and so on. So players are forced to move around the map and are not merely holding up in a corner the entire time. What a nice change of pace! Getting five stars on each level requires survivability as well as style.
Now for the bad news. As I mentioned before, this game suffers from many of the plights that have been affecting modern gaming negatively. While the game is designed to be fully enjoyed by four friends playing together, this is not possible unless there are at least two consoles and two copies of the game- as well as an Xbox Live subscription, or system link. The game is entertaining, and the story is involving, but it does not last long enough- it is short and sweet, then thanks you for spending your money and is on its way. This is especially disappointing when you just bought two copies of it.
Finally, the worst part is it’s too easy! I understand the need to appeal to casual gamers these days as there are more and more of them and they make up a large portion of sales, but c’mon. Make an easy mode for beginners, medium for casual gamers, and hard mode for people who want to be killed and forced to restart a few times throughout the game! I for one do not fully enjoy a game that I can run through on “hard” mode without being killed once. There are also clear exploits using certain character abilities in certain ways, that one can use (which I will not spoil here, you can find them on your own if you so desire) to essentially cheat through the game, if it wasn’t easy enough already.
With all of these factors in consideration I would say the game is worth a rent, or a cheap buy, especially if you have some friends in mind to play it with. Unfortunately, this is not one to own because the replay value is just not great enough. The game provides some excitement and nostalgia, but overall, I think it only deserves a 6.5. So, Fuse is certainly not terrible, but it is also no Brute Force.