Fuse PreviewPublisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Xbox 360
There’s a tall man in front of us, his back to a bank of five TVs. The first four are set out on tables, ready for some hands-on time. The fifth is above them and scrolls through screenshots and footage from the game which, the tall man informs us, is all about the eponymous substance, Fuse. He’s not kidding.
To start with, he explains, Fuse is what the story revolves around. A high-tech military base has gone dark and a shadowy, deniable wing of the American government has sent in a crack team of soldiers to investigate and contain the problem. That’s you and, as soon as you arrive, you find out what Fuse is - a changeable, energy-giving material recovered from an alien encounter in the 1940s.
And the reason the base has gone dark is, of course, that the Fuse is being stolen. A private military group called Raven has assaulted the base with a typically evil agenda and it’s up to you to stop them. That’s a task complicated by the relationship between Raven and certain members of your four-man team, however.
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The tall man at the front of the room spends a lot of time going over the backstories of the four characters at this point - enough that we could fill an article just on that, if we wanted. We don’t though, so just know that there’s a tank (Dalston), a healer (Sinclair), a sniper/trapper (Kimble) and a stealther (Deveraux). Each of the four squad members shares some sort of personal issue or history with Raven, but it’s far more interesting to talk about what sets the team apart than what brings them together.
And what sets them apart is Fuse.
As well as being the focal point of the story, Fuse is also what powers the special weapons for the characters, which they pick up almost as soon as they enter the base and each of which has unique properties. Dalston’s weapon, for example, can create huge shields which protect those around him from damage and which he can propel forwards as a shockwave. Sinclair, on the other hand, has a fast-firing Fuse weapon which crystallises enemies and causes them to shatter.
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Each of the Fuse weapons has a secondary function too - such as Deveraux’s ability to both cloak herself and create singularities which suck enemies to their center.
While the Fuse weapons are set as the default gun for that character (meaning you can’t swap them with your allies even if you want to), the upside of that is that they can be upgraded over the course of the game. You see, as well as being a narrative device and also the defining attribute of your weapons, Fuse also acts as a form of XP for a limited skill tree. Limited is very much the operative word here, with each character getting just four skills that can be upgraded through four stages, but the tall man at the front claims there’s room for a lot of meaningful customisation. We didn’t get to check for ourselves, however.
Instead, we were too busy trying to create Fuse combos, because as well as being a narrative device and a defining attribute of your weapons and a form of XP, Fuse is also...