On the surface, Fuse looks a little too much like one of the many gritty and realistic action shooters that populate the third-person genre than it does when it was originally billed as the more cartoonish Overstrike. While its aesthetic may have changed, and its narrative often takes itself a little too seriously, Fuse is actually a good third-person shooter that's enjoyable to play with or without a team.
Fuse puts you in control of Overstrike 9, a mercenary spec-ops team lead by veteran commando Dalton Brooks. Sent in to secure a top-secret research facility, Dalton and his team find themselves battling against Raven, a paramilitary group that seeks to use a mysterious substance known as "fuse" for nefarious purposes. Even if the concept of an evil organization out to hold the world hostage sounds clichéd, Fuse's story features enough interesting twists to keep you playing through the next chapter, and you'll get a few chuckles of the team's sarcastic commentary during their adventures. Though some of the snarkier quips delivered by the Overstrike team do feel out of place during some of the darker parts of the game's narrative.
Although its artistic design may not help Fuse stand apart too much from other games in the third-person shooter genre, Fuse's gameplay is a different story. The shooting and cover mechanics are very easy to get a grasp on, but the centerpiece of Fuse's combat will be each character's unique fuse weapon. These items each have its own special ability that you can use to devastating effect on the battlefield. Dalton, for example, has a Mag-shield that lets you protect teammates from harm or liquefy enemies with a short-ranged burst of energy. Naya, the stealthy one of the team, has a warp rifle that can cause enemies to warp into miniature black holes and then explode violently, damaging anyone around them. What makes the fuse gear even more interesting to use is how you can chain up different weapon effects to create some destructive combos that can wipe out entire enemy squads in one go. The Overstrike 9 team does have access to the usual collection pistols and assault rifles if you run out of special ammo, but after crystallizing, incinerating, and vaporizing dozens of poor bastards with a high-tech rifle, you'll find they're not quite as fun to use.
While Fuse is meant to be played with more than one person through its co-operative mode, if you are by yourself your AI teammates are surprisingly competent. They'll seek cover, try to flank enemies, come to your rescue if you get knocked downed and use their unique skills and fuse weapons to great effect. You'll rarely feel like you'll have to babysit any of the characters you aren't currently controlling. Plus, you can easily swap between the other members of Overstrike 9 with the push of a button - incredibly useful if you want to try tackling a firefight from another angle, or if you're not playing with a full team of other players and want to use another character's fuse ability.