Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
Published by Sony
You all remember the Sly Cooper series? The cute games about the thieving raccoon and his gang with the adorable cell shaded graphics and fun parkour-ish gameplay? Well, Sucker Punch Productions recently released a new game, which is just as cool but nowhere near as adorable, called inFamous.
The game opens with a bang, literally. The protagonist, Cole, awakens at the center of a massive explosion, and introduces the player to the controls by getting him away from the crater. While escaping, he’s struck several times by electricity from haywire machinery, eventually causing a lightning storm on a bridge. A cutscene shows the aftermath of the blast, with the government quarantining the city due to plague and a full on societal collapse, while you Cole discovers that he has electrical superpowers, basically a walking battery. He goes relatively unknown up until a television DJ called the Voice of Survival, who has been jacking the airwaves, shows video footage of him activating the bomb that caused it all.
During an attempt to break the quarantine with his friend Zeke, Cole meets an FBI agent named Moya, and makes a deal with her: If he gets her the “bomb”, actually a device called the Ray Sphere, and helps find her husband and fellow agent John, she’ll help him get out of the city. And that’s all the spoilers you get people.
The plotline is, unfortunately, unyielding. Though you do have the option to be good or evil, the events of the main story largely remain the same, although the motivations behind what you do are entirely up to you. For most of the missions the excuse “Moya told me to and if I don’t she won’t let me out” is perfectly viable when you’re saving a bunch of people from bad guys.
As for the rest of the story itself, it’s pretty damn good. Put simply, crazy **** happens as Cole searches for the Ray Sphere and tries to solve its mysteries. There’s only one really major plot twist, but it rivals the one in KotOR in that by the time it’s fully revealed you’ll be kicking yourself for not figuring it out. That, or it’ll be an Empire Strikes Back moment where you just don’t see it coming at all. And yes, I just used two major Star Wars references to describe a plot twist. I’m that big of a nerd.
So all in all, a well done plot, but simply too set in stone. 9/10
Empire City was definitely not a shining metropolis, even before the explosion. There’s definitely a grittier, edgier look to your surroundings, all the more if you happen to be evil. They aren’t pretty graphics like past Sucker Punch games (looking at you Sly), but they are shiny as hell. The details are excellent as well. As I type this I have Cole standing in front of a building with a few weeds around the outside, the bricks still clearly defined and visible but littered with randomly laid out cracks and a door, covered by bars with one or two of them slightly bent in various places and a little placard over it with the street address, 6995. How’s that for detail?
Sounds are a similar thing. When you aren’t actually doing anything, or are off track for a mission, there’s barely any music, just the sweet sound of the city and some occassional noises in the background to keep your ears entertained. Wind blowing through the streets, cars driving down the streets and people calling for help because someone is mugging someone else or dying from plague. Get into a fight or being doing something important for a major mission however, and you get a cool techno beat accompanying your blasts of electricity. Altogether it makes for an experience both pleasing to the eye and to the ears. 10/10
What would be your reaction if I told you you could shoot lightning from your hands? Mine would be “awesome” and that’s how I describe the gameplay. Cole’s powers are just too freaking sweet, and upgradable based on your morality. Good guy powers are tactical (for instance, you can upgrade your normal bolt attack to recharge your energy whenever you hit an enemy with it), while bad guy powers are destructive (that same bolt attack instead causes your enemies to explode. Cool, right?). In any case, there are 16 powers in total. You only start with three, a basic lightning bolt, your Shockwave ability (essentially a shotgun like attack with power behind it, useful for moving cars out of your way and sending bad guys flying), and the Thunder Drop (used in the air, when you touch down everything gets blasted away, and I mean everything). Eventually one of the Reapers (the gang you fight in the first area) will blow up an electrical substation, shorting out the entire city’s electricity, and over time you get to fix it by going to the sewers and reconnecting the circuits. Every time you do, you unlock a new power.
Also convenient is the fact that you almost can’t die. You take absolutely no damage from high falls (convenient, since the rooftops are your best mode of transportation. Sucker Punch has been doing wall scaling since long before Assassin’s Creed, thank you very much) , and whenever you do get killed, either in battle or from the water, which electrocutes you on the spot, you just wake up, either at your buddy Zeke’s roof or one of the many medical clinics you can unlock all over the city. Plus if you die in mid-mission you start over at a checkpoint so you don’t have to start completely over. The kicker is the ease with which you can heal yourself mid-battle. All you have to do is just drain the nearest electrical device, and you’ve got more health. None around? Knock one of your enemies down and Bio-Leech them (one of those handy powers you get to unlock). That doesn’t mean fighting is easy, mind you, since half the time you’ll be fighting large numbers of bad guys, including guys with guns hidden on cat walks and rooftops, guys with rocket launchers, Conduits (specialized versions of the gang members you fight. The Reapers have teleporters who fire shockwaves at you, the Dust Men have big guys with RPGs who spawn crawly spider things, and the First Sons have invisible guys with shotguns), large trash golems with rock-firing machine guns for arms, and giant purple energy men.
It should be noted that Cole is very good at getting around, in spite of the fact that cars blow up when he sits in them. Before the explosion he was in to urban exploration. Think parkour, but more dangerous than what most amateurs do. He can climb buildings with relative ease, using anything from a windowsill to an air conditioning vent as a handhold. Notice I said he, not you. While most of the time this works easily, there will be moments, especially with balconies, overhanging ledges, and the police station in the Warren (you’ll see what I mean) where Cole won’t jump where you want him to, and often that leads to falling. Hence why it’s a good thing falls don’t hurt him.
As with just about any sandbox pseudo-RPG, you’ve got moral choices. You can either be good, or be evil. There are three key things to ask when you’re deciding which you want to be. The first is the kind of power you want, as has already been discussed. The second is a matter of difficulty. As in past games like this the obvious easy choice is to be evil, that way you can just go around killing anyone you damn well please. In inFamous it’s even easier because when you’re fighting in the middle of the street, the passerby just love getting in your way. Seriously, it’s as if they like being nearly hit by electricity. So, obviously if you want an easier time of not having to avoid the citizens and just shooting anyone who happens to be in your crosshairs, you should be evil, right? Wrong. Because even with all that ease, it was still really annoying having to deal with people throwing rocks at me, cops trying to shoot me, and Conduits appearing out of nowhere and shooting me in the chest with a shotgun. On the other hand, when I played through as a hero, not only did people start having the common sense to get out of the way of my lightning bolts, but they also cheered me in the streets, cops shot the actual criminals and not me, it was awesome. Not to mention it saved me at one point after a big firefight. I had one guy left to kill, but I was one shot away from dying and there was no way in hell I was going to line up the shot before he killed me. Out of nowhere, boom, people started stoning the gas-mask wearing bastard, sending him off balance and allowing me to fry him. And of course, the third and most important question to ask: do I want blue lightning, or red? Because asthetically it doesn’t really matter which you choose, Cole will always be a badass with a shaved head, deep voice and lightning coming out of his hands whether he’s got the villainous look or not, but the color of the lightning matters.
tl;dr version: The gameplay is fun, movement around the three bigass islands is original and intuitive (once you get the two coolest powers anyway, Induction Grinding and Static Thrusters), and Cole kicks ass. 10/10
Final Verdict: PS3 owners, get this and lord it over your friends who laugh at your console. 9.5/10