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Meet the elite agents of Overstrike 9, the game’s principle team of protagonists: (from left to right) Jacob Kimble, Izzy Sinclair, Dalton Brooks and Naya Devereaux.

FUSE’s gameplay mechanics are quite fluid and dynamic, featuring a mix of sentimentalities and schemes found in various genres that come together to deliver a new fresh take on third-person shooters.

The introduction of Leap mode allows players to switch between any of the four agents that comprise Overstrike 9 on-the-fly, offering unprecedented tactical control in any given situation. Players can utilize different combinations of each character’s unique Xenotech weapon, offering the chance to execute unique Fuse combos that decimate even the deadliest of foes while playing online or local co-op.

With a smattering of upgradable skills, team perks, and extra abilities, players are given the chance to customize their own agents as they see fit and equip them with various upgrades and gear to fashion their perfect techno soldier.

The skill trees bring in light RPG elements to the mix and give gamers the freedom to choose which skills each agent will utilize in battle, and there are also various cosmetic outfits that further add customization–each of which are purchased with credits that are found in-game.

Naya wreaks havoc with her Warp Rifle, opening Fuse-powered singularities across enemies encased and immobilized thanks to Izzy’s Shattergun. This is just one example of the many unique tactical Fuse combinations.

Strategic Combat

The bulk of FUSE’s gameplay is comprised of third-person shooter action that culminates in various firefight skirmishes that take place across dozens of different arenas and battlegrounds. The objectives vary from time to time, and often gamers will have to use strategy to balance shoot-em-up combat while activating switches or carrying Fuse cores to power nearby consoles, adding a bit of variety to the frenetic action.

The heart of FUSE’s combat lies in with the general mechanics associated with every firefight; whether you’re fighting a small brace of Raven soldiers of a heavily armored Enforcer, the rules still apply.

The game’s third-person shooter mechanics utilize basic sentimentalities featured in every shooter: utilizing cover to in order to regain HP and reload to avoid death. FUSE’s cover system is quite dynamic and allows for surprisingly in-depth control, giving players the opportunity to completely avoid damage from enemies when used correctly. Cover can also be used to sneak up on enemies and execute them from the shadows.

The cover system is a sort of snap-on mode that is activated when players press (B), and no matter where you are, the agent will find cover and use it–they’ll even slide to cover if you’re a bit away from any.

Jacob launches a volley of Fuse-powered bolts while Izzy uses the safety of cover in order to reload her Prowler shotgun.

Cover is often improvised and varies from each level, but every level has some sort of cover, whether it’s a railing, a partition, a wall, or an obstruction like a metal crate, there will always be something to hide behind. The cover isn’t destructible and lasts forever, even after missile blasts.

FUSE isn’t like your average shooter where med-kits and stim-paks are littered throughout, and you can only take so much punishment before your die. Rather than emphasizing precision accuracy, Insomniac instead decided on making it a mix of both strategy and precision targeting skills.

If you’re a veteran of FPS games, your basic instincts are to take a few hits in order to dish out damage–but that kind of thinking will get you killed again and again in FUSE.

Instead, you must use the cover system or risk being punished for your mistakes over and over. This aspect can be frustrating at first, but you must acclimate yourself with the mechanics and learn how the game flows in order to maintain success.

The team waits behind cover to face off against Raven Corp. baddies, making use of the dynamic snap-grid cover system that’s essential for survival during combat.

The cover system affords tactical strategy for each player by giving them some safe zones, but this is balanced by somewhat overwhelming numbers of soldiers and enemies. In FUSE, being able to use strategy to outwit your foes is just as important as being a good shot–sometimes even more important, especially during boss battles.

Along with hiding behind areas, players also have other ways to evade enemies and seek the safety of cover. Rolling by tapping (A) or Sprinting (hold A) are both great ways to avoid fire and close distances on the fly, and can often save your life.

Agents will also vault across cover and other obstacles by holding forward and pressing (A), which is useful if you want to cover distances quickly.

Rolling is one of the most useful abilities that will be used quite often in battle, especially in levels with sketchy layouts, and although it is still possible to get shot while you roll, it greatly reduces your chances and allows you to maneuver to safety.

Naya rips open molecular space with her Warp Rifle, providing cover fire for Dalton and Izzy as they move forward to flank the enemy–an example of some of the strategy that can be implemented to out-think your foes.

Each character executes the tactical maneuvers the same way, and all of them will respond to the same control scheme. The cover system also allows players to follow various directions, offering a more dynamic three-dimensional control that is incredibly useful.

For example, if players are hiding behind a wall and meet an adjoining wall that forms a 90 degree angle, it is possible to switch from either wall and stay in cover in the process.

While the cover system can be a bit finicky and odd to get used to at first, once it’s mastered players are given a huge advantage. Enemies will often use cover as well, often to reload and throw grenades, but the cover system is an invaluable resource that balances out the somewhat overwhelming firefights.

All hell breaks loose when Raven sends wave after wave of elite special force mercenaries to take out Overstrike 9, culminating in a grand royale firefight.

The agents of Overstrike 9 are quite nimble and often take part in demanding acrobatic stunts: not only do they sprint and roll, but they can climb and grapple as well. Players can interact with various highlighted environment areas such as grates for ventilation shafts and scale and leap from wall to wall on command. The animations are fluidly executed and they add brief platformer-esque mechanics to gameplay.

FUSE doesn’t have a HP or shield bar to indicate health, but instead relies on a dynamic interface that pulses and reddens with blood when players are close to dying. If you do fall prey to enemy gunfire, your teammates have a small window to revive you before you bleed out–the same is true when they’re incapacitated as you have to help them or they bleed out and die.

Izzy’s Med Beacon will also automatically revive fallen comrades, alleviating the need to head into dangerous enemy fire to physically revive them by holding down (Y).

It’s important to pay attention to your teammates while in combat, as getting shot isn’t your only worry: enemies can often grapple or immobilize agents, which of course takes them out of battle. Other agents must free the bonded teammate, so it’s a must to not only be aware of your surroundings but also help out your team when they’re incompacitated.

Leap Mode

Along with the level-up progression system, Xenotech weapons and strategic cover system, FUSE also offers a new enhanced mode that allows players to quickly switch back and forth between the four agents of Overstrike while playing singleplayer campaign. The Leap mode is accessed by holding [Back], which brings up a scheme with the four face buttons (A B X and Y) with an agent labeled for each.

Gamers can only control one agent at a time–Insomniac wanted to make a strategic shooter not a real-time strategy game–while the other three are controlled either by other players (during online co-op) or computer AI (during singleplayer). The AI is surprisingly adroit and will respond to in-game scenarios such as needing to be revived and such, and they often come to your aid in firefights.

Jacob’s Arcshot has devastating effects when charged, especially when the Fuse-powered mercury bolts score a headshot.

Xenotech Weaponry

The weapons in FUSE provide some of the most enjoyable shoot-em-up action available and it’s very easy to see Insomniac’s previous franchises like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance bleed through with the high-tech firearms and their explosive firepower.

Each member of Overstrike 9 has their own unique Xenotech weapon and skill trees, offering different roles and countless combinations and advantages to utilize in combat. Below you can find a bio of each agent as well as their respective Xenotech weapon:

Dalton Brooks

Dalton Brooks is a former Raven soldier and leader of Overstrike 9. Prior to working for Lyndon Burgess he worked for Raven Captain Meilin Mao.

  • Mag Shield (120 Capacity): This Xenotech weapon creates deployable cover using Fuse and a unique ferrofluid. The shield can be triggered to repel almost any projectile it traps.
  • Primary Fire: Dalton’s Mag Shield has both defensive and offensive capabilities and is incredibly useful as a mobile bullet shield, thus making him the tank of the squad. The Mag Shield can also project shields outward to decimate groups of enemies.
  • Secondary Fire: Deployable mini-shields that soak up bullets quite nicely. When used in combination to Izzy’s Med Beacons, players are given a both cover and HP regen bonuses that offer a distinct advantage.

Isabelle “Izzy” Sinclair

Isabelle “Izzy” Sinclair is an intelligence expert who made her living selling information to anyone who met her price.

  • Shattergun (325 Rounds); This Xenotech weapon uses compressed melanite rounds augmented with Fuse to encase enemies in living crystal. A secondary fire deploys a Med Beacon and heals agents in battle.
  • Primary Fire: Successive fire crystallizes enemies in melanite, suspending them and allowing for easy execution and a way to rack up some serious bonus XP.
  • Secondary Fire: Izzy’s Med Beacons are essential to survival in FUSE, and her skill trees even offer bonuses to agents who are in the beacon’s radius such as increased damage and HP regen. Med Beacons also use Fuse ammo, so it’s best to use them sparingly unless you plan on using a secondary weapon like a Daybreaker or Harbinger.


Naya Devereaux

Prior to working for Overstrike, Naya Devereaux was a contract assassin who worked with her father Luther. When Raven recruited him, she joined Overstrike in hopes of bringing him in safely.

  • Warp Rifle (250 Rounds): This Xenotech weapon combines anti-matter with Fuse to create violent singularities. Upgrade provides user with cloaking ability to aid in stealth assassinations..
  • Primary Fire: Naya’s Warp Rifle creates singularities and is one of the most enjoyable weapons in terms of sheer firepower. The singularities can spread across multiple enemies to create a huge warp zone that decimates a whole group–but like Izzy’s Shattergun, Naya’s Warp Rifle takes multiple hits to rupture singularities and it’s easy to run out of ammo.
  • Secondary Fire: Instead of a secondary weapon upgrade, Naya gets a Cloaking ability which renders her invisible for a short time. Like all secondary modes, the Cloak uses Fuse ammo and can quickly drain a reservoir.


Jacob Kimble

Jacob Kimble is a former LAPD robbery/Homicide Detective recruited to Overstrike by Lyndon Burgess.

  • Arcshot (25Rounds): This Xenotech assault weapon fires high-velocity bolts armed with Fuse-augmented mercury.
  • Primary Fire: The Arcshot is a single-shot crossbow-like weapon that packs a serious punch, and is quite accurate as it has a scope that allows players to zoom in for increased accuracy. Every shot with the Arcshot is powerful, and headshots are lethal–and with upgrades the weapon is an invaluable tool against bosses and groups of Raven soldiers.
  • Secondary Fire: The Arcshot’s secondary fire is a charged bolt that adds extra damage–and is balanced by extra Fuse usage per shot. The charged shots are extremely useful against armored bosses or Enforcers, and picks off enemy Fuse shields quite efficiently.

Skills, Classes, Upgrades & Unlockables
With their respective Fuse abilities and weapons, each member of Overstrike 9 has pre-defined roles that come together to make the perfect team. Naya is the stealth master with her ninja-like cloaking ability, Izzy is a multi-purpose ass-kicker slash healer, Jacob is your all-purpose sniper, and Dalton is the tank that protects everyone with his massive ferrofluid shield.
While the agents have their predefined classes and roles in battle, it’s still possible to customize certain aspects with each of their respective skill trees. The trees are made up of nodes that each have different tiers and requirements to move on to the higher tier. For example, to move on to Tier 2, a certain number of skill points must be spent on skills in the Tier 1 category, etc.
Dalton’s full skill tree gives an example of the basic layout and tier grades for each skillset.
The level up system is quite progressive and each character earns EXP from kills or assists, especially when Fuse combos are executed. When a teammate controlled by AI levels up, players must switch over to that character in order to spend the skills–the AI doesn’t apply them automatically.
It’s always best to switch between agents intermittently in order to maximize their potential in terms of leveling up and keeping combat fresh, but the AI is more than capable of handling combat.
The skills themselves range in passive bonuses to extra abilities that are extremely helpful in combat. Many of the passive bonuses are centered around each agent’s respective Xenotech weapon; Izzy’s passives give bonuses to her Med Beacon radius as well as her Shattergun, whereas Jacob’s passives are focused on his powerful Arcshot rifle.
Every character has their own unique skills, but there are also nodes that are featured natively across the board as well.
The full list of Team Perks ranges from extra bleedout time to bonus XP, Fuse Credits, and even maximum HP.
Team Perks that give upgrades and general passive bonuses to the whole team are also available in the game. Team Perks are unlocked with Fuse Credits rather than EXP, and players can find Fuse Credits scattered around the campaign levels. Credits can also be earned with Echelon mode, primarily after taking down powerhouse bosses like Enforcers.
The perks themselves are incredibly useful and also have different tier grades just like certain skills, however they are often costly and only one perk can be activated per agent for a total of four bonuses. The costs of each perk increases with their respective tiers, giving players something to work towards.
For full customization, gamers can purchase different outfits for each agent as well as different skins for their Xenotech guns. These cosmetic upgrades are only available in Echelon mode and range from small differences to awesome additions like prototype suits and gear.
The gear upgrades are entirely for looks and do not enhance any stats of the agents–nor do the skins for the weapons, but they do add a stylish flair as a personal player’s stamp.
Izzy unleashes caustic melanite crystals upon Raven soldiers, encasing them to soon be shattered with a well-placed shotgun blast.
Fuse Combos
FUSE’s gameplay puts a strong emphasis on teamwork, and when everyone works together as a team, Overstrike is a force to be meddled with that can decimate whole armies of Raven Corp. baddies. The game’s variety of weaponry–both the Fuse-enhanced Xenotech guns and the secondary firearms–compliments the array of upgrades and skills available as players level up their agents quite nicely. Both of these are essential to building the perfect destructive force to take down Raven once and for all.
The Xenotech weapons can be used in conjunction with one another to net various XP bonuses and create unique combinations to take down even the most resilient of enemies. For example, players can earn extra XP by standing behind Dalton’s MagShield and shooting down enemies, or using Izzy’s Shattergun to encase enemies with melanite and then ignite them with flurries of singularities from Naya’s Warp Rifle–the possibilities reinforce the strategic elements within the game’s combat.
Dalton fires up his MagShield to soak up enemy fire and launch a lethal barrage of projected Fuse-powered ferrofluid to annihilate his foes.
Along with their respective Xenotech firearms, each agent can equip two extra guns along with a handful of grenades. The left weapon slot is an additional primary slot that can be filled with the following:
  • Harbinger – Standard high-power low-mag sniper rifle with 2x zoom scopes that delivers lethal headshots.
  • Prowler – Close-quarters combat shotgun that does wonders against Fuse shields and heavily armored opponents.
  • Daybreaker – Semi-auto rifle that shoots three rounds per trigger pull and has a zoom scope for increased accuracy.
  • Savager – Full auto assault rifle with an expanded clip, but offers no scope.
The many guns featured in FUSE, minus each agent’s distinct Xenotech weaponry.
  • Dragonfly – SMG with a high rate of fire.
  • Guardian – Single-shot pistol with a decent mag that offers impressive stopping power.

Two-Handed Weapons (attained by min-bosses)

  • Behemoth – Powerful fully-auto chaingun that packs a punch but has limited ammo.
  • Incinerator – Launches mortar-like explosives that eat through enemies, but it’s downfall is the limited ammunition.

Each of the weapons above can zoom in by pressing LT (except for the Prowler) and some of which–like the Daybreaker and Harbinger–offer zoom scopes for enhanced accuracy, promoting headshots.

Team up with friends or random players via Xbox LIVE or PSN to experience the full potential of FUSE’s dynamic co-operative action.

Matchmaking & Game Modes

To match players up with others on Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network the game has its own matchmaking system that searches and finds teammates. FUSE is a wholly co-operative experience, however the competitiveness is embraced through high score stat sheets and records that display the number of kills and the like for each match or mission.

There are two game modes in FUSE: a survival-esque mode called Echelon that pits gamers against increasingly difficult waves of enemies, and the Campaign mode, which tells the game’s story through a variety of levels and missions. Both the Campaign and Echelon mode are re-playable, allowing gamers to earn even more Fuse Credits and XP to level-up their skills.

Each mode can be played both offline with another player locally (or alone via singleplayer) as well as online via Xbox LIVE or PSN, and the game even lets players control the drop in/drop out multiplayer with certain restrictions.

Gamers can choose to let anyone join their game, or just let friends join–or even play alone in Offline mode, all of which are welcomed exceptions that give gamers even more freedom over their gaming experience.

Never underestimate Raven soldiers–every firefight could be your last.


Insomniac has crafted a multitude of enemies that progress in difficulty the farther you get in the game, whether you’re playing Echelon or Campaign. Raven Corp. soldiers start off as your basic faceless henchmen baddies in techsuits, but they soon get upgrades like jetpacks, cloaking mechanisms, Fuse shields and powerful sniper rifles that make them much more dangerous.

You’ll also face a fair share of heavily armored robotic enemies–these are quite dastardly and often push your strategic skills to their limit. While the robots aren’t necessarily hard, they take more endurance and have much more HP, giving players boss battles that are enjoyable and challenging.

The bizarre and highly entertaining boss battle against Sovlenko is one of the most memorable moments featured in the game.

The mechanical baddies range from the tough as nails Enforcers to lower-class robots–but make no mistake, their near endless barrage of firepower can be lethal.

FUSE also features a variety of boss battles that punctuate most campaign missions. Throughout the game you’ll face memorable enemies like Ivan Sovlenko, the psychotic Russian who literally injects untested Fuse into his bloodstream and creates a crazy mirage battle wherein Overstrike 9 faces a towering behemoth version of the mad Sovlenko.

Gamers will also face the ruthless Meilin Mao, one of Raven’s captains who had a history with Dalton–and eventually Naya’s father, Luther.

Dalton stares down an Enforcer, one of the more lethal mini-boss automated Raven Corp. drones that can take (and dish out) a lot of punishment.

The combat never seems to get old as there’s always some new experimental method to try out: whether its a new gun or a new combination of Fuse skills or upgrades, every firefight is enjoyable and enthralling.

Insomniac truly has captured the magic of third-person shooter action and has blended it exceedingly well with a variety of RPG and tactical strategy mechanics to deliver the next evolution of shooter.

Both campaign and Echelon modes are entirely replayable any number of times, and players can re-play any previously beaten mission at any time. In a sense, the game offers a pre-game interface wherein gamers can select certain variables associated with their mode of play–which is standard for most shooters rather than having to start the campaign from the very beginning.

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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