Fusion logo

FUSION from Electronic Arts is the first British title to be released on that label. If you played the game for five minutes you'd ask yourself why EA bothered to sign it up.

On first impressions it looks like the good old standard game of wide-scrolling-landscape-with-ship-rolling-around-and-killing-anything-in-sight. I thought so at first, and as this type of game, it's quite average. You have a small crawler vehicle, with a smaller cannon, which moves quite slowly over the very pretty graphical back drop using the Amiga's extra half-brite mode for a wider range or colours.

You'll quite quickly find a mother ship in which you can fly around the landscape and start blowing away the various aliens, missiles, cannon turrets flying and driving pods. If you don't know what you are doing, you'll quickly be bored, and probably dead.

This is where Fusion's biggest problem lies. Hidden on the landscape are switches, in one or two colours and many shapes.
By using the small crawler vehicle you can flick the switch, and somewhere else on the landscape, an obstacle will vanish or a gate to another screen will open. But if you flick a switch of the same colour, the effect of the previous switch is undone. You can't just open all the gates and you have to plan which switches you want to get on to other screens. That's not the end of the problem though.

The mother ship can only land in certain locations, and this leaves the crawler with a dangerous journey to wherever the switch is. This, I've found, means planning the crawler's journey adopting a scorched earth policy en route.

Wreaking such havoc becomes easier once you have picked up the extra weaponry that is available for the mother ship, but the crawler will always be vulnerable, and finishing later screens can mean travelling a route totally surrounded by turrets and missile bases.

Once you've done that you can start using the switches to assemble a bomb, parts of which are scattered through the landscape. The landscape is a mapper's delight and figuring out the switch combinations will keep a lot of people puzzling.

Fusion is a different game, trying to evolve the traditional shoot-'em-up and add a puzzle behind it. Because it looks like a shoot-'em-up it doesn't maintain interest as such. It doesn't have the immediacy of many arcade games, and puzzle-lovers may not look at it because it looks like a shoot '-em up.
If you are either of these type of players, Fusion is worth an extended play, if only to scratch at the depth that actually is there.

If I had to quibble with it, I think I'd have to complain about the 30 lines smaller than NTSC display which makes it feel like the game area is more cramped than usual, and the fact that when you save a game, you can only save one game at a time, and when you load up the game it resets all the aliens.

Bullfrog should do something about this, get rid of the cryptic score system, and maybe add an able-to-land indicator for the mother ship. Fusion's worth a look though.


Fusion logo

BULLFROG PRODUCTIONS/ELECTRONIC ARTS

Although Powerdrome was supposed to precede it, recent delays have meant that Fusion surfaces as E.A.'s first release deveoped entirely by U.K. artists. And the team that brought you Enlightenment - Druid II have brought with them much of the look of that game. However there's not a magician in sight here - we're talking serious annihiliation as you try and construct and detonate a bomb.

GAMEPLAY

You begin Fusion in an Assault Crawler, a slow moving ground vehicle which you direct along the causeways of a richly textured landscape on a search for your mother ship, which is concealed by a cloaking device. This brings you face to face with the five types of enemy hiding beneath silos and bunkers: blue rotating plasmo spheres, grey cruise missiles, orange-eyed nitro mice, purple ergonomic disruptors and blue-edged hovering saucers emerge to work in unison against you.

Once you're in its immediate vicinity your mother ship materialises and you're able to board it. The aim is locate the nine disparate parts of a bomb distributed among the thirteen alien levels, collect and return them to the first level for construction.

Finding the parts is one thing - actually collecting them is quite another. There are a number of different coloured switches which when activated allow access to grid areas and other levels otherwise protected by force-fields and spheroids. To collect a key you must land your ship near it on a piece of open flat ground - a feature hard to find near anything useful - and leave the ship in your crawler to pick the key up. To make matters worse, some keys are located in areas protected by other switches so the puzzle element of the game involves determining the correct sequence of switches to activate.

To help you out in the face of prolonged physical assault are special feature icons which will provide you with bonuses such as extra shield energy, increased firepower and defensive force-field. There are also 'Save Game' icons to be found, usually next to inter-level exits where you may resume a game at a future date./p>


GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Despite an action window only a little over half the height of the screen, and uneven parallax scrolling, Fusion's graphics are nevertheless finely crafted and feature probably the best contoured landscapes you'll see. Each level is a mix of elevations and plains through which you can glimpse slower scrolling pools of latticed colour threads. Throw in the sleekly animated enemy sprites and you have a rich variety of terrains composed with great care and attention to detail. Full eight way movement completes a very pretty picture.

Sound is confined to an ever-present background score, which tends to detract from the graphics at hand, and the usual kind of spot effects of lasers and explosions.


CONCLUSION

Insidiously addictive, Fusion delivers a finely weighted mix of arcade and strategy elements combining to present a series of logical puzzles. Add this to the great graphics on show and you have a game deserving to be bought. Let's hope it doesn't bomb.


Fusion logo

Electronic Arts
Price: £19.99

The first thing I saw about this game that I liked was the first page of Fusion's manual, which gives you a short sarcastic plot under the tile of Not The Story ('The galaxy is under threat and only you in your very very very small Trang fighter can save us...') and then goes on to tell you that Fusion is a game. Not a simulation of a futuristic sport, but merely a computer game with you playing it. Credit where credit's due, well done to the writer. Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

The idea behind Fusion is to traverse the many alien levels and collect all the parts of The Bomb, and then return to the start level and drop the bomb on the bomb square (recognisable because it looks like a bomb). To get to the other levels, you are going to have to do some puzzle solving.

You start on a metallic looking plateau looking out around the 360 degrees scrolling landscape of large pylons, huge holes and alien vegetation. Pathways lead off the plateau into a mazelike series of connecting paths down to ground level where, somewhere, your ship is hiding. I say hiding because if you are more than a third of a screen away, it turns on its cloaking device, rendering it invisible to all and sundry. Which, as you can imagine, makes it a bit difficult when you cannot remember where you put it. The whole point of the ship is that you can fly around at great speeds over areas that you could not go 'on foot', to survey the area and to get between levels. All the problem solving has to be done on foot, just like the old 64 favourite, Parallax. In fact, this game is very similar to Parallax in many way, except of course for the ultimate aim and the bit about the scientists.

The problem solving comes in the guise of locked off areas and keys. The keys are represented by large rectangular blocks on the ground, with a geometrical shape in the centre of them, either red or green. The locks are smaller versions of the keys, set against a wall or exit to another level. To activate the key, you have to run over it by foot, and as it is usually set in the centre of a maze with no clear room for the mothership to land, you have to land outside the maze and find your own way in. Plus you can only activate one red and one green key at once, so you have to plan very carefully which one you select.

You are under constant bombardment by the aliens that populate the plains. Large balls roll in your direction, continually tracking you; gun emplacements pop up Xenon-like and fire at you; homing missiles come after you all the time. There is just no getting away.

The graphics are really nice: Sharp and colourful. No-one could call the game unattractive. The scrolling is not exactly smooth, but it does have a very nice parallax effect. Well, not exactly true parallax. The backdrop is two layer, with the rear layer only seen through the holes in the front layer. The strange, but very pretty thing is, the rear layer scrolls slightly out of synchronisation with the front, so you get a terrific, if slightly weird, swinging effect.

Sound is quite nice, with a repeating tune all the way through. After a few hours, I can see how it might get boring, but then you can always turn it off.

There are two ways you can play Fusion. you can either play it as a straight, well balanced cross between frantic blasting and taxing problem solving, or you can take it as a straight shoot-'em-up. Either way, it is a damn good game.


Fusion logo

Electronic Arts, £24.95 disk

The year is 2188 and intergalactic travel is still not possible - so don't get any clever ideas about warping the space time continuum or eating melange, OK? It's JUST NOT ON!
Man has changed to cope the problems of suspended animation enough to travel about the galaxy, but any further than that and there are medical problems involved (shhh!). Even most small ships are fitted with systems to allow interstellar travel, right down to the tiny Trang class fighters.

You, Captain Gherheart Bloowd III, are the pilot of one of these fighters, known as the Flayer, and are on your way home at the end of a reconnaissance mission when a message comes in on your autocom. The computer wakes you up when the message is received, printing up the text onto a screen:

The galaxy is under threat and only you in your very small Trang class fighter can save us...

The rest disappears in a stream of garbled code. Your computer manages to locate the source of the signal and automatically programs the coordinates into your navi-computer.

All is quiet when you reach the planet, so you begin to explore. Eventually you find a carving on a wall, prophesying the coming doom, along with the way to overcome the disastrous alien assault. You must search the planet in your Trang fighter and land assault craft in search of the bomb parts needed to blow up the alien base. Once all the pieces have been found you must return to the first layer and activate the bomb icon.

Access to some grid sections and other layers of the base is gained by tripping certain switches set into the ground, each switch activating its own function. Other icons include the bomb parts themselves, extra ship functions (like shields or improved firepower) and a save game option.

All this seems easy enough, until the enemy detect your presence and launch Rotating Plasmo Spheres, Homing Missiles, Nitro-mice, UHOs (Unidentified Hovering Objects) and Ergonomic Eruptors at you. At this point you realise that it's not going to be as easy as you thought... But then, nothing ever is, is it?

Zzap's Fatford: Oh No! Too much X-mas Pud!

Kati Hamza There are only two words for this game: fab 'n' triff! The amount and variety of colour and the use made of it is superb - something which the screenshots on this page don't fully show. The only thing that lets down the graphics is the scrolling, which is a little jerky - but the atmosphere generated by the punchy soundtrack and relentless waves of aliens is ace! The inertial control method is a bit awkward, too, at first - but once you've got the hang of it, just fly around and blast the baddies to bits! It's such an unusual game that I'd fully recommend you check it out!
Maff Evans The demo copy of Fusion arrived a while ago, without any fuss at all. In fact I didn't know what the hell it was until it loaded. Now we have the finished game, I can safely say that Electronic Arts have a really good product on their hands. The graphics are brilliant, the sprites are nicely drawn and coloured, scrolling over strange and atmospheric backgrounds. The sound is just as brill (God, did I really use that word? Blimey! I must be turning into Gordon!), sounding a bit like early Human League. At first, the game tends to be a little confusing, making you ask 'Where the hell am I?' but you soon get drawn into looking for the switches and bomb pieces and the question becomes 'Have I really been playing that long?' Bullfrog Productions have certainly learned how to use the Amiga. I mean great music, beautiful graphics... these boys have got a future!
Paul Glancey I must say for a start that Fusion looks absolutely wonderful! The colouring of both sprites and backdrops is incredible and the shading is so good you could almost pick the ships off the screen. The scrolling could have been a little smoother, however, as it's a little bit bitty as it stands (or moves as it were... never mind). The gameplay is still frenetic, though, helped in no small degree by the stern, futuristic soundtrack that plays throughout. Initially the switches seem to be a bit far apart, requiring you to travel for miles in your slow-moving assault vehicle, but once you get used to the routes the distance doesn't seem as far and you become more involved in blasting aliens to care. Fusion is a good game, that's all there is to it. It's not a brilliant game, just very good.