Review – inFAMOUS
Sony prove there’s an upside to being bad.
Superheroes and sandbox games just go so well together. Sure regular sandbox games are ok, but why would â€œGeneric Man Aâ€ want to travel across a whole city to do missions when he could just stay at home playing videogames â€“ I empathise with this man. Superheroes (or villains) on the other hand, have a little more drive in them. So they don their spandex, think up some witty quips and set about doing their job with a smug grinâ€¦ of course most of them didn’t start their career by killing 10,000 people in about 10seconds.
inFAMOUS puts you in the rubber insulated shoes of Cole McGrath, a simple delivery boy who has the misfortune of delivering an exploding package (the worst kind of package mind you) and killing 10,000 people in the process. Cole awakens at ground zero of his beloved Empire City (I hope I’m not the only one to get the pun here) to see the city being quarantined off, drained of power and worst of all having several ne’er do wells and their gangs trying to take over. Lucky for him he picked up a few electric based powers from this experience – â€œGeneric Man Aâ€ wouldn’t last 5 seconds in this newly formed hell hole. Cole is stuck not only fighting for his survival but also helping his buddy Zeke, estranged girlfriend Trish and also a mysterious FBI handler Moira and ever mysterious-er undercover agent John.
So you set off around the city trying to uncover the mystery of who gave you that package and where it is now. A primary objective is to restore power to city sections so that you may fight more effectively there. Cole’s powers (with the exception of his basic zap attack) drain his electricity meter, Cole recharges this (and his health) by draining any electrical devices, so fighting in a blacked out area is pretty tricky. Once an area is restored Cole gets a new power which is upgraded with XP from killing enemies, completing quests and side missions and performing outlandish stunts in combat such as sticking enemies with grenades, killing them mid air, headshots etc
Combat in game is fluid fast and frantic, and while many people are right in saying that the enemies have an uncanny ability at sniping you from a mile away you are not exactly defenceless. Practically every surface is climbable and there’s always plenty of cover to hide behind and electrical sources to heal yourself, not to mention all the powers at your disposal. Once you get into the habit of not running headfirst into any situation you’ll start to survive for much longer. The gangs are The Reapers – rag tag drug dealers that are pretty low tech. The Garbage men – homeless denizens, they’re better armoured but slightly slower. The First Sons – super-badass and more importantly the key behind the whole explosion.
Enemies themselves come in standard flavours, machinegun, shotgun, grenadier and rocket-man, and also few unique super units that each gang has, be it the giant walking monstrosity of scrap metal, the invisible gits that are lethal at short range, or the robed men with powers comparable to your own. The standard and more advanced enemies can take quite a pounding but each have certain weaknesses you will have to exploit. Each gang has their own strengths and weaknesses meaning that your tactics change depending on the island you’re on, this may mean sticking to rooftop travel, watching out for booby traps or watching out for aerial bombs falling.
If story progression isn’t your thing then you can take territories back from the different gangs by completing some of the side missions in each of the three islands, doing this will permanently stop enemies from coming back to the area (don’t worry you don’t have to retake a territory once you capture it) and may offer up other benefits such as medical clinics (spawn points for when you die), restoring train services, etc. While not wholly necessary, these act as a nice, quick diversion from some of the story missions and some of these mini-missions are really fun. In particular I really like the missions you get from dead bodies, Coles powers allow him to scan the brains of recently deceased, sometimes this means you have to hunt down their killer by following their bio-electric imprint (yeah like that could work) or sometimes you get to see the location of a hidden package they’ve stashed and you’ve got to decipher where it is form the mental images. The side missions have been well thought out, sure some are generic where as others will see you in the middle of a shootout of epic proportions between the rival gangs.
Enemies sniping you with machine guns from three blocks away – that’s what pissed me off most about Infamous. It’s fine at first, but begins to grate more and more as you progress through the game. Maybe this was Sucker Punch’s way of balancing the game but it just becomes plain irritating. Given the electrical superpowers Cole has at his disposal you really should feel like a bad ass, but you are left feeling all too vulnerable at times. This leads to the difficulty curve being all over the place at times due to the cheap enemies, and the fact that you seem to take far too much damage at times.
Another thing that I was disappointed with was the whole famous/infamous morality system. While each path grants you some different abilities from the other, it has almost no bearing on how the story plays out.
However, at least exploring the city is fun, even though the tendency to grab on to scenery when you don’t mean to can become annoying. The run-down appearance city looks great and reminded me a lot of Dark Angel. I also loved the graphic novel-style presentation of thecutscenes, it’s a nice change from what you typically see.
Despite being a tad disappointed, Infamous is a good game. Once you get past the irritating enemies and the difficulty spikes, there is a lot of fun to be had. It just feels like the game could have done with alittle more development time to lift it from merely good to great.
One of the main features of the game is the Karma system. Certain instances will give you the option to be bad or good – Punch that bad dude, or kiss him. Like pretty much every other game that has a sliding scale of morality you feel somewhat nonchalant about the whole situation (I’d argue Bioshock did it well), but what is good is the difference it makes to your powers. As your karma drops to that of a scumbag your powers become more widespread and destructive â€“ such as electro-grenades turning into cluster bombs, likewise as you become more saintly your powers become somewhat more refined, still pretty badass but more precise, like suspending bad guys mid air while you attack them or grenades that pin attackers to the floor.
Karma will also affect weather you’ll be chased down by angry mobs, or if the cops will fight alongside you. Karma is also determined by any random combat encounter you come across. Kill the bad guys while they’re wounded, or better still jump on top of them and drain the bio-electric energy from them and that’ll put you in the bad books. Whereas knock them down and electrically pin them to the ground for the cops to deal with will make you a proper goody two shoes. Like I said, not very interesting on its own but they ways your powers evolve from your actions makes a big difference.
It’s a game that has a lot of fantastic things about it, a massive city to explore, challenging enemies that seem to adapt to your attacks and a main character that you don’t feel the urge to constantly kill. Despite the complaints that others are saying about the games length (it’s certainly not short) I have nothing negative to say on the subject. inFAMOUS is a stellar game by itself and is quite frankly is the best game I own on the system. Yes, I know you could say that’s not really compliment but I know you’re not that cynical.