Fuse is a third person squad based shooter developed by Insomniac Games and published by EA. Fuse is to be released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on the 28th of May. Insomniac Games are well known for their previous franchise, the wildly successful Ratchett and Clank games, as well as the original Spyro games, before it got all Skylander-y.
Not counting Outernauts, the Facebook game inspired by the Pokémon franchise, Fuse is Insomniacs first new IP in seven years, since the first Resistance game.
The demo for Fuse happens to be available on the Playstation Store for Playstation Plus subscribers.
Fuse is “living matter” (read: magical maguffin) which was “recovered from an L-6 classified event” in the early 20th Century (yes this is literally all the explanation you’re going to get), which is very clever and makes your weapons super good. A ‘rogue military contractor’ (because we’ve never heard that one before) has stolen it and is (apparently) doing or going to do bad things. First of all, as a nerd, I want to call Insomniac out on something, here’s a quote from the cinematic at the beginning of the demo:
“Raven [the rogue military contractor] is in possession of technology light years ahead of the rest of the world. And they wouldn’t have stolen it without a plan.”
Light years, as I’m sure we’re all aware, is a measure of distance and not time.
In Fuse, you take control of one member of a four man squad, each with a different ‘Fuse weapon’, all of which have different effects and secondary fire modes. Although quite how the Fuse-weapons give you a secondary fire is not made clear, which is especially confusing when you consider that the secondary ‘fire’ modes include, a shield, invisibility and a healing field.
That being said all of the weapons feel very different to use, force you to play differently and are nicely varied. However, the characters feel quite empty, they seem to be entirely defined by their weapons, although this is only based on a demo which doesn’t even span a whole level. So the characters may end up being more defined in the full game, although there were a few of the stereotypical wisecracks that put me off.
In addition to a unique weapon, each character, or Agent, as the game calls them, has a skill tree, which you can put points into as you level up. Experience points are gained in the normal way, by killing enemies and completing objectives, with bonus experience if you kill them using your Fuse ability. The skill trees are nothing which we haven’t seen before. A combination of generic skills to boost your utility (grenade upgrades, health upgrades) and unique skills boosting the effectiveness of your Fuse weapon and it’s ability. Overall, the skill trees give you a useful amount of control over the specialisation of your characters, although quite how far that can be taken remains to be seen, and will only be fully explored once we have access to a full playthrough of the game.
The demo level starts you off with a short cutscene showing you and your squad on what is possibly the worlds most unsafe cable-car on a snowy mountain. You watch as the cable-car disintergrates around you and the characters leap to safety (just barely of course) on a convenient mountain ledge. The problem with this for me is that it’s delivered entirely without context. Later in the demo level, the characters remark “So that’s what happened to the Strike Teams…” yet we have no mention of any strike teams, or any context for the level at all.
This was a problem which occurred throughout the demo. I found myself constantly confused as to exactly what was happening and why it was relevant. This isn’t helped by Insomniac taking a chunk of gameplay out of the center of the demo. After you complete an objective, you get a loading screen telling you that you’re not allowed to play the next bit, so they’re just going to fast-forward you to the bit afterwards.
Fuse also implements a Leap system, which allows you to switch which Agent you are currently controlling if you’re playing the game alone, although, on Playstation at least, this feels awkward, and not something which could easily be accomplished in the heat of battle. Playing alone though, is clearly not what Fuse is intended for. The multiplayer is very accessible, and enhances the gameplay experience even when you’re not playing with your friends, and you’re without a headset.
Fuse feels like it’s channeling the old Conflict games, specifically, Conflict: Desert Storm, and this is by no means a bad thing although, whether emulating a game released 11 years ago is something to be aspired to is debatable. Regardless, I can imagine that Fuse is vastly improved when played with a group of friends, although that should be true of any multiplayer game.
The aesthetic of Fuse is pulled off with reasonable competence. Whilst the near-future sci-fi setting is one which has received rather a lot of attention in recent years, Fuse seems to combine the usual tropes in an interesting enough way without them seeming entirely lifted from other franchises. Expect to see a lot of full-face helmets, armoured fighting suits with big guns, vehicles reminiscent of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and thousands more references from other sci-fi franchises, each of whom stole those elements from earlier franchises.
Overall, I’d like to say that Fuse seems to be really breaking new ground in the squad-based, third-person shooter genre. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. This game isn’t terrible, it won’t offend the senses when you play it. If you’ve got a few friends with it, it should even be fun, for a while. But Fuse doesn’t do anything special. At points, it feels as though not enough thought has been put into its creation. Fuse, the ‘living matter’ is just another name for magic and there really is no excuse for not knowing what a light year is. Fuse brings together elements which have been part of third-person and squad based shooters for a long time, and manages to do them all adequately, but excel in none.
Two big pieces of Sonic the Hedgehog news have emerged this week from Sega, but not both were explicitly detailed.
The weather in my state more closely resembles the symptoms of the flu than anything else. The last couple weeks have been rapid fluctuations between freezing temperatures to mid 90′s have certainly taken their toll on me. Granted I stay in my cold dark room and play video games regardless of the weather but people who DO venture out into the wilderness post about it constantly on Facebook and if theres one thing we love around here its complaining about the weather, and the sports teams, and the government, and road construction, and pretty much everything when you really think about it, we are an unhappy bunch. So while the local climate was falling victim to multiple personality disorder I chugged my way through the story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us. Having trained enough for me to feel confident I felt it was time to venture forth into story mode. That, and I was trying to avoid too many story mode spoilers online and that was getting more difficult as time went on.
In the grand tradition of comic books the story is terrible from a literary standpoint but enjoyable enough as is. The game seems to have you fight everyone through the course of the story which sometimes feels a bit contrived and forced. The story was still amusing enough though, plenty of fan service moments and twists that are to be expected from DC at this point. And since it takes place on an alternate Earth thanks to DC’s Infinite Earth concept they are free to kill whomever they want. Really though the biggest problem with the story is that you change character every 4 matches or so, meaning that just by the time you are used to someone its time to change. You don’t play as EVERY character though and of course you are made to play as Batman most of the time as Batman is the most popular and most profitable character for DC currently. I’m not trying to sound annoyed and while I love Kevin Conroy and Batmans character gallery DC is risking overexposure. I don’t care if it makes me the hippest of hipsters but the popularity is starting to wear on Batman, also Doctor Who. One possible downside for the more hardcore people is that in the later half of the story when the computer starts to pull out the ultra-cheap moves and promptly stomps you into the ground, each successive loss will tone down the computer. On the cheaper fights, particularly the final one, I was able to win by the third or fourth rematch when the computer was practically inert. I’m glad I got through it since There were some story characters who I was just not able to figure out how to be effective, but its a more hollow victory than with someone I liked using. The fights in the home stretch were not the time to learn how to use Wonder Woman.
But Overall I enjoyed the story and got to try out some new characters and learn some things along the way. That and as the computer dialed up the difficulty they initiated the Clash’s more so you get to experience some great one-liner exchanges between characters which are pure gold. Once you join the online fights you will be immediately saddned because nobody clash’s online. It took me six fights to finally win a match online as my noobishness was truly blood in the water. I was frequently kept pinned down by people exploiting spammable moves as well as my own imcompetence and fumbling of powers. Aquaman however was a lot of fun still to play as and had a nice range of powers that finally helped me squeek out that victory. The entry level for this and most other fighting games is pretty high, even with Injustice’s easy to use Dial-A-Combo fighting setup, as opposed to Marvel Vs Capcom 3′s lengthy combos that resemble Linux code. The only fighting game I can think of that had a low entry level was Smash Bros, but even that is heavily dominated by the pros so be prepared to get beaten for a while.
After Story and Online mode all thats really left is the S.T.A.R. Labs missions which theoretically are there to make you better by making you play in gimmicky ways, or let you replay the mini-games from the story mode. The mini games aren’t that fun to begin with and the gimmick levels are more mysterious and annoying than helpful in learning new ways to play. I’ve said it before how games need more dynamic training modes and this game could really have used one. But of course such a demand really just means im the noobiest scrublord to ever casual up a good game by disapproving of pain. I will not argue with that point I do suck at fighting games, and many others! However I don’t want to see any genre disappear. Most won’t and will just decline in budget and production value as they stick with their niche, but I’d like to see big budget games have some more variety and the only way to keep something big budget it for it to be profitable and therefore accessible. Not everything needs to be Call of Duty and have their sized audience, but I feel some changes here and there to the fighting genre to bring in some new blood would do it some good and breathe some new life into it.
Injustice is still an enjoyable experience that I’d recommend to DC comic fans and people who are semi-new to the fighting game genre. It’s not as technical or demanding as some of the others so its definitely something you could learn with some time and effort. Also they just added Lobo to the roster and hes a joy to play, but tragically he is not voiced by Brad Garrett like he was in the cartoons.
The 1980s to 1990s was undoubtedly the era of the platformer. Bearing witness, as it did, to the spiritual birth of the console era proper, the period can boast many of the best examples of the genre. In those heady days of discovery, the games industry had something of a wild west feel to it; a feeling of a new frontier with fantastic new discoveries being unveiled seemingly every week.
From this brave new world came some of the true luminaries of the industry. The stomping ground of titans like Sonic and Mario, the final decades of the 20th century set the tone for what could be argued to be platforming perfection, refining the genre to the point of virtual perfection.
Naturally, in the fine tradition of media industries, this success led to a wave of titles which, at best can be described as drawing inspiration from these stalwarts and, at worst, lazily copied from them.
Seemed every developer wanted to grab a slice of Sonic and Mario’s massive pie around that time. From inspired but flawed ‘homages’ such as Bugsy the cat, through merchandised emulations like Zool, to amateurish rip-offs like the original Giana Sisters; there was a swathe of titles inspired by the genre-de-jour, with mixed results, quality wise.
Today’s subject was one of those titles, a by-product of the platformer gold rush. At its heart a solid, though uninspiring platformer, Cool Spot still retains a place in the heart of many of those who played it way back when it hit the scene in 1993. But the puzzling thing is trying to put your finger on just why that is.
Really, we should hate Cool Spot. He’s a corporate mascot, the very definition of a sell-out you’re ever likely to see. For those who have not run across our erstwhile leading-man; Cool Spot was/is the mascot for 7-up, the lemon & lime fizzy tooth-killing beverage beloved by many. He originally started life as a part of the 7-up logo; the red spot connecting the two parts of the name. A humbler beginning you’re unlikely to find, I think we can all agree. However, over time, the once inauspicious red circle developed, eventually becoming anthropomorphically personified as the embodiment of the 7-up brand, sporting arms, legs and a bitching pair of shades daddio!
He became fairly omnipresent, featuring in advertising and merchandising globally as the poster boy of carbonated citrus goodness everywhere. I mean, it was only natural that eventually the guy was given his own game eventually.
As the more observant among you will have surmised, the game, Cool Spot, arrived on Sega Megadrive and SNES in 1993. As alluded to before, the game itself is, gameplay wise, nothing special. The player is tasked with traversing the game world by jumping and running, collecting items (in this case red spots in place of coins or rings) while avoiding a menagerie of enemies. Pretty standard stuff all told. Really, when it comes to the actual mechanics, there was nothing to differentiate it from any of the other also-rans in the genre.
So what really makes the game stand out?
Short and simple; its Cool Spot himself. The character himself, despite being voiceless and, when you get down to it, faceless, somehow manages to have far more character than the vast majority of his peers. To play the game is to fall in love with the claret-coloured little bugger. From the aforementioned bitching shades, to the funky trainers to the swaggering walk, Cool Spot exuded just that: cool. More than any 2-d character model I’ve come across from that era, Cool Spot moves in an incredibly dynamic way. He’s always moving, his body flexing and contorting athletically in a cocksure manner.
That the thing, really. Cool Spot worked so well because he was pretty much the embodiment of his time. I defy anyone to find a more 90s character than Cool Spot; it’s not possible! Everything about the character is unequivocally, as the saying of the time goes, ‘Awesome!’ (said while throwing the horns of course!). Hell, the game starts with our protagonist surfing in on a bottle of 7-Up to a pumping soundtrack, much like the later Sonic games. In an era when extreme sports were king, Cool Spot was the Crown Prince of cool.
Cool Spot defied everything he should have been to become more than just a marketing gambit. In any other scenario he’d have been loathed; seen as just another cynical corporate play: consigned to the bargain bin of obscurity. Not just a sell-out, but worse: something that was never even in a position to sell out from.
Really, the forgotten franchise here is not Cool Spot the game, not really. The title itself deserves no real acknowledgement. No, the real noteworthy thing of merit here is Cool Spot the character himself. A living, breathing example of what good character design and care can achieve, Cool Spot managed to rise above expectations an actually be kickass. And for that, he deserves to be remembered.
The year was 1999. The survival horror genre would never be the same again. The scary but silly antics of the Resident Evil series were well at the forefront of the horror genre when Konami threw their shadowy, profoundly confusing hat into the ring with the game-changing Silent Hill. However, in 1999 I was five years old and still happily ploughing through Crash Bandicoot 2. It was years later that I first came into contact with the terrifying series for me, and it led to a hideous, malformed romance to last a lifetime. With this article, I’d like to take things back to the source, with a look at the game that started it all.
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