Gameplay Over Art Direction, Right?
Full disclosure: I greatly preferred the direction – both in art and in tone – of Fuse back when it was known as Overstrike.
There is a hilarious mockup of an Electronic Arts Concept Submission Form detailing the changes that occurred in between Overstrike's announcement trailer and its re-reveal as Fuse. It is amusing because, even though it assuredly exaggerates what went on behind the scenes, the reasons for the aesthetic changes made to the project are ripe for parody. The game's visionary, Brian Allgeier, went on record in an interview stating that the visual overhaul was the result of focus group participants believing the stylized art was merely for kids. So, the developers changed their approach. What was once a distinctive-looking game with unique gameplay hooks is now the same game you have seen multiple times over.
At least the unique gameplay hooks are still present.
Fuse's story focuses on a four-person squad, their interaction with an alien substance, and their battles with deeply entangled opposing forces. Your squad, Overstrike 9, is who gets called upon to take on missions where plausible deniability is tantamount.
Expectedly, each member of this elite group has specialties and intriguing backstories. Fuse is almost like a superhero game, but instead of inherent abilities, the team's individual talents find their basis in the weapons they fortuitously pick up at the beginning of the game.
Dalton, the group's leader who fits the "tank" class, has a weapon that emits an absolutely massive forcefield that can catch and suspend incoming bullets and launch them back at the original assailants. Jacob's crossbow, perfect for long-range targets, can also be used to set explosive traps. Izzy, the group's technical wizard, wields a weapon that temporarily freezes enemies in a black crystal, making her an excellent character for crowd control; the gun also has the secondary ability to launch beacons that heal your team, making her a bit of a medic. Naya can launch miniature black holes and turn invisible, making her perfect for stealth attacks.
Fuse is still thankfully shaping up to be incredibly interesting, as it hopes to emphasize teamwork-based play in conjunction with the smattering of unique weapon-based powers. For example, utilizing Izzy's crystallization gun in conjunction with Dalton's deployable forcefield yields quick and massive damage; more damage than either character can inflict on their own. Aside from the practicality and efficiency that it affords, to further encourage teamwork, each character receives an appropriate amount of experience points for working together. If you are playing Fuse alone, you can switch between members of your squad at anytime, allowing you to use their unique talents at the most opportune moments.
The developers insist that despite the visual change, the promise of a balanced comedic and serious atmosphere with original gameplay mechanics is still present. While the latter is definitely in full effect, the former has yet to be seen since the redesign. Hopefully Fuse does keep the original concept's levity, as it should help the title stand out in the huge sea of similar looking games that this generation has been defined by. The gameplay demands attention.
Writes for a few media outlets, does graphic design work for a few clients, as well as production work for a few studios (all poorly). Believes the best correlation between the words "twilight" and "sparkle" has less to do with vampires and more to do with a sarcastic pony.
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