September 17, 2012
Insomniac Games Turns Overstrike Into Fuse, Our Excitement Turns Into Anxiety
Last year, developer Insomniac Games revealed a teaser trailer for their new game Overstrike, and it got me all hot and bothered. It had a slightly cartoonish art style, some Ratchet & Clank type weapons, four player co-op, and best of all, a sense of humor. It was a perfect amalgamation of what Insomniac did best: make fun, original games with sharp writing, memorable characters, unique worlds, and personality. The Spyro games were great platformers, and the R&C trilogy still stands as a shining achievement of the PS2 era. Overstrike seemed to be a logical step forward for Insomniac, and it quickly became one of my most anticipated games on the horizon. But then on Thursday, Insomniac showed off the first gameplay footage of their new game entitled Fuse. And we only have one question; just what exactly happened to the game that was Overstrike?
The game I fell in love with, only after one trailer, transformed into something else. I’m sure Big Brother surrogate/publisher EA had something to do with it, because what I saw didn’t excite me, it worried me. The gameplay footage didn’t impress; it looks rather…what’s the word I’m looking for? Blah? Yeah, blah is a good word for it. It didn’t feel charming or funny, and didn’t make itself differentiate from other shooters. The bright colors were swapped out for a grey, bland look. The characters were gritty soldiers, like they came straight out of the Gears of War army. The enemies were Mass Effect throwaways, and the story revolved around an unknown alien power the government was using for no good. Boy, I haven’t heard that one before.
Okay, so that all seemed harsh, and I don’t mean to shit all over a game without playing it, because that would make me no better than a common household cockroach, but I failed to see the idiosyncratic nature of one of my favorite developers. Even the Resistance series had its own distinct look and feel, with trademark Insomniac weapons and an interesting twist on American history. Fuse, from what I’ve read about and seen, doesn’t have much about it that seems fresh or new. When comparing it to another game with four player co-op, an emphasis on guns, leveling, and humor, Fuse doesn’t hold a candle to the behemoth that is Borderlands. Fuse is coming out in March, which is awfully close, and I have nothing but cautious optimism. And with everything coming out between now and early next year, I’m running out of optimism.
I’m willing to give Insomniac the benefit of the doubt here, since they haven’t given us any bad games lately, maybe ever, and I’ll still keep a close eye out for Fuse. I’m just worried that EA sucked the life out of it for the sake of better sales and mass market appeal, like another one of their recent franchises that went that direction (cough*Dead Space*cough). Maybe my expectations were a little too high; I just got through playing the R&C HD collection, and those games hold up incredibly well. I guess I’m just clinging to the past, but they are still some of the best action platformers to come out on any console. I even enjoyed the later Ratchet games for PS3, and while my hopes are high for Fuse, they have to do a better job of proving to me they can bring something interesting to the genre, since Borderlands 2 looks like the prime example of a holiday juggernaut.
What do you think? Am I too pessimistic about the change in tone, or am I correct in my fears of EA tampering and focus testing?