In September this year, Insomniac re-announced its campy retro-styled spy thriller Overstrike as the mildly irreverent, but far more Gears-ish Fuse - and lo, a great hue and cry went up on the internet, as studio fans laid into another outbreak of the industry's lingering case of Action Man syndrome. Speaking to OXM last week, Insomniac president Ted Price has explained the decision to dial down the whimsy, arguing that the characters were hard to engage with in their original form.
In case you're still catching up, Fuse is the tale of four mercenaries - big man Dalton, ex-cop Jacob, the icy Naya and the hacker Izzy. Early in the story they're handed four "xenotech" weapons that fire some decidedly unconventional ammunition. Dalton's MagShield, for instance, serves to repel enemy fire while amplifying that of his comrades.
"We're not taking ourselves completely seriously," Price said of the game's comparatively grim look, "and I think that's important for this world. I think that when we made our tone shift earlier this year and released our first trailer, people assumed that we were going completely serious - that was pretty much the main concern people had, but we hadn't changed our approach in terms of keeping things more light-hearted than your standard third-person shooter."
There will still be time for wisecracks as you shoot up Fuse's vaguely realistic world, but the comedy won't be as overt as in, for instance, Ratchet & Clank. "It's a balance, it's a balancing act, because the campaign is driven by the story, and it's a relatively serious story - it's not campy. But we have tried to inject more of a dry humour throughout the game, whether it's in some of the cinematics or the back and forth dialogue between the characters."
Price feels that when humour takes over, everything suffers. "I think without a balance, humour doesn't come through, and if you're all humour all the time then people won't take the game seriously at all. So it's a tough place to get to, but we're pretty happy with how the story turned out."