Each character also has their own skill tree which, as gain you experience through defeating enemies, will let you pick from damage bonuses or can unlock extra fuse abilities like a deployable medical beacon or an invisibility cloak. The skill trees do offer some customization over each character and their effectiveness in combat, but given how few options there are in each tree you might wonder why there isn't something more straightforward in place instead. Plus, there's no option to have the game automatically level up each character on its own, so there is an unfortunate side effect of having to pause the game to do so whenever you swap characters. It won't break your flow too often, but it can feel awkward when you've gone a long length of time without swapping characters.
One of the more frustrating aspects of Fuse is having to fight the various mini-bosses and bosses you'll encounter throughout the campaign. Ranging from heavily armed mechs to futuristic gunships, these imposing boss battles can feel tough and challenging - at first. What kills the fun in defeating them, however, is how most bosses aren't really affected by your special Fuse gear, turning them into bullet sponges you have to whittle down over time. Given how fast-paced combat can be the rest of the time, and how you can wreak some considerable carnage on the poor bastards standing in your way, it's annoying to learn you can't use them to the same effect on the giant doom bots.
Once you're done with Fuse's story campaign, you can check out Echelon mode, which pitches the Overstrike 9 team against waves of increasingly tough enemies to rack up a high score and earn bonus experience and fuse credits. While there aren't too many locales to battle in, Echelon mode keeps things interesting by having random mission objectives, like securing a weapon cache or taking out a high value target within a time limit. It's a nice addition to the game and can be incredibly challenging, but you probably won't get much out of it unless you're playing with other people or you're really interested in maxing out your character's skills.
Bottom Line: Some of Fuse's flaws, like the grindy boss fights and a storyline that takes itself a little too seriously at times, can harm the experience, but it's a well built third-person shooter that's fun to play solo or on a team.
Recommendation: Fuse is a fun action game that old and new fans of third-person shooters will enjoy, but it's not free of a few speed bumps that hurt the overall experience.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360