mago's inFamous (PlayStation 3) review

User Review #92?!

I was one of the fortunate ones who actually hadn't acquired any of the games offered by Sony's Welcome Back program. Obviously inFamous is one of the games I chose, why else would I be talking about it? Infamous is the first game developed by Sucker Punch that I've played. That may be a shock to many, but I've never had any form of Playstation as my main platform until recently. Since this is my first date with Sucker Punch, I'm happy to say they've made a positive first impression, but inFamous has a few tiny things that needs to be ironed out.

So dude has lightning powers, okay? I'm sure you knew that already. Another big surprise, it makes for excellent combat abilities. I really appreciate that Sucker Punch choose to make this game a third-person shooter instead of a character action title you typically get when a developer is handed a character that is essentially a super hero (or villain). Better yet is the TPS feel is all justified because most of Cole MacGrath's powers are weapons you would see in any shooter (guns, grenade, sniper rifle, etc.), but because he has the power of Zeus he does get some exotic powers as well, such as a telekinetic* push or the ability to call down a lightning strike which looks devastating, making it a treat to unleash on big group of baddies.

These powers do have a cost that must be met. That cost is just Cole's own electric charge which is easily refilled because he can suck the energy out of anything that holds a charge which happens to be a bunch of things. Most likely when you run out of "ammo" you won't be far from something to suck a charge from. An adding bonus for absorbing the charge is that it will also replenish Cole's health which allows you to be much more active. This doesn't mean the combat is easy, you're put up against a fair amount of enemies at times and they are all about 95% accurate. Combat can definitely be challenging, but never feels unfair.

Throughout Infamous the player will earn XP by defeating foes and completing missions. Hold on to your hats for this one, you can spend said XP on upgrades for Cole's powers. Mind blowing stuff, right? The upgrades feel meaningful, powers can gain additional effects such as gaining energy when you block bullets with the shield power. Some powers have different effects depending on your moral alignment. Take the grenades, if you're a hero the fully upgraded grenades will restrain any weak enemies to the ground automatically. What's neat about that is if you hit civilians with the grenade it'll restrain them too, which makes it impossible to kill civilians with them. On the evil side, the fully upgraded grenades will split apart into several grenades causing mass destruction. Totally different powers and they both help keep the alignment you want.

Given that inFamous is an open world game, the feel of how you get around and how well it works is very important to the game. For the most part traversal is alright, except for climbing buildings. The player is effectively jumping up the building. Imagine Assassin's Creed, but the inability to move between grapple points by just moving the thumbstick. Even worse is the fact that Cole will grab onto buildings automatically when he gets near them. There was one instanced I made Cole jump over a wall and when he got pass the wall he turned around and grabbed onto the lip. This just so happen to occur while I was in a chase which, as you should be able to imagine, pissed me off. Situations like this happened a little too often for me to ignore it. Later on Cole acquires new powers to aid progressing across the map. Sonic thrusters gives Cole a slow fall, making his jump range much larger depending on the height from which he jumps. Cole can also grind along telephone lines and train rails, which makes his journey around Empire City a far more expedient one.

Of course there are collectables, this is an open world game after all. Only two types, Dead Drops and Blast Shards. Dead Drops are pieces of audio (think Bioshock) that give some insight into the plot. Blast Shards will increase Cole's maximum energy amount, so you'll definitely want to find these. Infamous does a great job of not making the collection process feel like a chore by giving Cole what is sonar but for electricity. It'll ping Blast Shards' locations on your mini-map for a second and point you in the right direction of a Dead Drop if you're close enough to one. Video games making it easier to find collectables are always good in my book.

The missions in inFamous have a fair amount of variety and rarely make you do the same thing twice in any of the main missions. I like the fact that many of the main missions become side missions. The reward for side missions is much greater than simply earning XP, enemies will stop spawning in certain areas of the city. The absence of bullets flying at Cole makes it a pinch easier to travel.

The story Infamous tells is the weakest part of the game. The characters are boring at best, with some being outright annoying (I'm looking at you Zeke). The events have no real impact on the player even though this is a game with moral choice in it and these choices are super contrived. When a moral choice is about to happen the game literally stops the action and lets Cole do an inner monologue about the choice. It's always things like, "I could help this people" or "I could be a selfish dick". The ending of this game feels very unearned and slightly improbable even for the world of Infamous, I'm just going to leave it at that.

The narrative isn't so bad that it's offensive, so I can easily ignore it. Infamous makes having electrical powers what it should be, fun. You are given the tools to exercise your freedom and plenty of things to keep you busy. Infamous will give you your money's worth especially since you don't have to pick it up for full price.

*not actually telekinetic

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