Fuse Felt out of Insomniac’s Hands


Have you ever played an Insomniac game like Fuse? Not in terms of its mechanical polish; Fuse’s shooting is right on current generation targets, weighted bulk and vicious collision, especially with sniper-esque shots. Not in terms of tone either; Fuse skirts the darkened landscapes of Resistance with the smack talk humor of their cartoon franchises. That still feels home.

Strictly speaking, Fuse is overburdened with itself. That is something Insomniac has never done before. It is not experimental in a way that Resistance 3 shuttered booming action for moody boat rides. Fuse comes across as corporately interfered, a crushing disappointment whose flaws seem to push against the hands that formed the title.

Insomniac’s latest was born OverStrike at E3 2011, the first Insomniac/EA multi-platform IP. The trailer, portraying a squad of characterized mercenaries, had spunk. The final collaborative piece has smatterings of that concept, while the rest is smeared with corporate ideologies.

EA is releasing a late generation, new IP. That is, generally speaking, a loss for a publisher. Growing complaints of game length and value sprout up commonly across comment sections or message boards, so in steps EA. OverStrike became flattened, sterilized corridors hosting egregiously long shooting galleries and dopey plotting about unstable alternative energy, mixed with military industrial complex idiocy.

People love to shoot stuff, so say the marketing test results, so why not take that risky new venture and force the issue? “Make that Fuse game so full of shooting, no one could say its too short!” The problem is that line of thinking is too simple. Fuse’s frame isn’t built for the numbers it drops into a bodycount. For those wondering, it was well over 1300 in my playthrough.

Fuse is, at minimum, six hours too long. Every time the design ushered in another identical room full of enemies, it elicited groans, not excitement. It was more of the same, echoed by character chatter as they too found themselves astonished that a private military corp could hold enough finances to fund this money bodies. That is far from the Insomniac we know, who time after time have delivered remarkably clean, concise experiences with minimalist filler. If necessary, filler was structured into the back-end on replay for collectible challenges. Fuse is so predictable (is the corner covered? There’s something there) as to make even that aspect a slog.

Maybe the transition from OverStrike to Fuse caused budget overages, forcing hard shifts during development that left Insomniac no choice but to fatten their title artificially. Then again, maybe EA didn’t see a market for the originally announced project, sticking their hands into the creative process and demanding more, disregarding quality concerns. It’s all guesswork. If this sounds like generic rambling about a small studio suddenly selling out to a greedy corporate overload (or fickle EA hate), that is not the intent.

All I know is that, goofy weapons or not, the frame of the six hour game that took me 12+ hours to complete did not come from the Insomniac I once knew.