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FUSE demo impressions

The demo for Insomniac Games' upcoming strategic co-op shooter Fuse is now available via the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE. Jump in to see how the demo sets the tone for the game's release later this month, and why it's so satisfying.

Insomniac Games is an established indie studio who's well-known for the Ratchet & Clank series, but the studio's most recent project, Fuse, raises the bar for dev team.

Set in a futuristic world, Fuse incorporates a plethora of game mechanics to deliver a fresh, original IP that builds on many of the familiar sensibilities of previous titles while introducing a slew of brand new features.

One of Fuse's most notable features is its innovative four-player online co-op, which allows gamers to work together with their friends to strategically battle enemies with high-tech weaponry.

If you're the lone wolf type you can play by yourself and switch between any of the four agents of Overstrike 9 by "leaping" from one to another, affording a truly dynamic experience that varies from character to character.

As far as a story arc, the demo lightly touches upon the game's main plotline: Fuse, an extremely volatile substance binds to any known element and makes it stronger, affording for limitless potential in military applications. Even after half a century, little is known about the substance, however with the aid of technology the government has been able to harness Fuse and apply it to weaponry–thus Xenotech was born.

Dalton and Naya engage in a lethal firefight with Raven soldiers armed with high-tech weaponry.

Of course where there is an extremely dangerous substance that could power a doomsday device there is an enemy faction just waiting to get their hands on it, and Raven Corp. has attained Fuse and is using it for their own nefarious purposes.

Armed with Xenotech weapons, the elite team of Overstrike 9 must infiltrate Raven Corp. and investigate their plans, while battling hundreds of enemy foot soldiers and bosses along the way.

The true magic of Fuse isn't any one feature but how all of the mechanics and features come together, and how they are seamlessly blended to immerse gamers in this exciting new world that's rife with explosive third-person shooter action with plenty of strategy and tactics thrown into the mix with its RPG-like skill trees.

Each of the four characters–Dalton, Izzy, Jacob and Naya–has their own experimental Xenotech weaponry powered by Fuse, each of which have their own applications in battle. Every Xenotech weapon has a secondary function which ranges from defensive measures–like place-able shield walls and health regen "mines"–to explosive offensive capabilities like remotely detonated bolts and encasing enemies in Melanite crystal.

The agents that comprise Overstrike 9–from left to right: Naya, Dalton, Izzy and Jacob.

Below you can find a bio for each character and their respective Xenotech weaponry (with links to YouTube trailers):

  • Dalton BrooksA former Raven Sentinel, Dalton joined Overstrike 9 after a failed assassination attempt by his former employer. Despite his checkered past, Dalton is the de facto leader of the elite team of agents charged with tracking down and containing the Fuse compound. Never one to hold back, Dalton’s answer to most problems is to come out swinging and figure it out after the bodies have hit the ground. He charges head first into most conflicts using his Magshield to catch and redirect enemy projectiles.
  • Isabelle "Izzy" Sinclair What Izzy lacks in experience she makes up for in intelligence. Izzy joins Overstrike 9 after serving as an intelligence broker. Izzy is an effective support operative, using her Shattergun to lift enemies from cover and tossing a Med Beacon to revive downed teammates.
  • Jacob KimbleFormer LAPD homicide detective Jacob Kimble is no stranger to violence and covert operations. He joined Overstrike 9 because he detested the bureaucratic nature of traditional law enforcement. Armed with his Arcshot, Jacob can systematically pick apart enemies from a distance or create chaos by setting fiery traps of molten mercury.
  • Naya DeverauxOverstrike recruited Naya because she is the daughter of Raven Captain Luther Deveraux. However, this former assassin and close-quarter-combat (CQC) specialist brings a new dimension to the team as well. Naya’s weapon of choice is the Warp Rifle, which can create singularities to tear apart groups of enemies. The weapon also allows her to cloak herself. Once she gets behind enemy lines, Naya’s stealth and CQC expertise are invaluable.

Izzy's Shattergun can be quite explosive in battle with the right upgrades and enhancements.

Using the Xenotech weapons in tandem can offer devastating combos that decimate enemies, offering the chance to find entertaining ways to mix and match character proficiencies via co-op.

All of the Xenotech weapons can be upgraded via each character's skill tree, adding a host of deadly additions and enhancements that provide explosive and quite enjoyable gameplay.

The combat roles for each character can also be adjusted and assigned by designating certain skills in the skill tree. In the demo, every agent of Overstrike 9 comes outfitted with 3 skill points, giving players a taste of the full game and allowing them to mix-and-match certain abilities for each team member.

Most of the said "skills" are passive bonuses rather than activated abilities, many of which add bonus damage and critical % with Fuse weapons.

Fuse's combat culminates in a series of firefights, and like any game of this nature, cover is essential. Fuse's cover system is more of an intuitive snap-on system that allows gamers to quickly find nearby cover and avoid fire. If there's no cover nearby, gamers can roll or sprint safely out of enemy range.

The targeting crosshairs are pretty much standard, with varying reticules for each weapon. Players can equip up to three weapons including the Xenotech gun, and grenades can also be used to dispatch groups of baddies. All in all the basic controls and maneuvers are quite familiar and afford decent strategic and tactical combat opportunities.

Don't underestimate enemies in Fuse, as it can lead to your downfall. Luckily the other agents of Overstrike 9 have your back.

The enemies themselves are outfitted with enhanced technology as well, offering a nice bit of challenge. Killing enemies will net XP that goes toward your overall level. Upon leveling up, players receive a skill point which can be assigned to any of the skill blocks available, adding a refreshing mix of RPG elements to the mix.

The RPG aspects don't over saturate gameplay nor are they diluted and tasteless: they provide a perfect blend that infuses the game with that perfect flavor.

The game has an emphasis on teamwork, which is best utilized via online co-op–although when playing singleplayer the AI of fellow teammates is quite apt, and they will promptly assist players who fall in battle and engage enemies on sight. 

When players are riddled with enemy fire and lose all their health they fall and must be revived by an ally. As mentioned above, the AI is quite helpful in this regard and will quickly run to your aid. Health can be regenerated with the secondary fire on Izzy's Xenotech rifle, the Shattergun, which tosses out probes that rejuvenate nearby allies in its proximity.

Fuse isn't without its fair share of explosive action.

Coupled with the engrossing combat with its emphasis on co-operative teamwork and its surprisingly dynamic RPG mechanics, Fuse looks to be one of the major releases of the year and the demo provides an entertaining slice of action for gamers to enjoy.

Not only has Insomniac created a fresh and original new IP, but they've also sparked a new kind of co-op experience; one that encourages gamers to customize their characters and break all the rules.

Be sure to try the demo out for yourself, especially if you're a fan of third-person shooters with heavy sci-fi and tactical RPG elements. This is one you don't want to miss out on!

The demo for Fuse is now available on Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network, and the full retail version is slated for a release on May 28, 2013 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

To pre-order your own copy or find more information on the game please visit the Fuse's official website or follow Insomniac Games via Twitter.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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