inFamous, just out of reach. (Warning: rambling ahead)

So last week, after IGN put out their review, I finally gave in and pre-ordered inFamous, the electric superhero game. (As I like to call it, "The Adventures of the Human Pikachu." It wasn't the number, it was the fact that the guy who wrote the review was totally stoked about it. He genuinely enjoyed playing through inFamous, and I got the distinct impression that he's going to go back to it. And I suspect I will love the hell out of this game for a long time to come. But how did it come to this?

I have to admit, for a while, I was leaning more towards Prototype, the other superhero game coming out this early summer. You see, when I first heard about inFamous, it was described to me by a friend as "It's like Grand Theft Auto, except you have superstrength and can fly." Think about it: watch the announcement trailer, the one that first used that epic phrase; "Save what is left, or destroy it all." At no point does Cole use his electric powers. You see him jumping around, you see explosions, you see a car flying at him, but not one spark comes out of our hero. So I was under the impression that it was going to be like Hancock, except without turning into crap halfway through. When I found out that all of Cole's powers revolve around him emitting electricity from his body, I was devastated. There's melee, yes, but it's just the strength of an ordinary man slightly enhanced by the lightning trailing behind his foot. Sure, you could move cars around, but sending out a static shockwave to flip it into the air just isn't as visceral as picking it up with your bare hands and smashing it into a dude's face. And yeah, you can climb all over the place and glide from building to building, but plenty of gaming heroes can do Parkour these days, and Batman's always been able to glide without having any powers at all.

So I turned to Prototype, where actual flight wasn't available, but at least the powers seemed more badass than electricity. Turning your hands into razor sharp claws? Transforming into your enemies? Hurling cars around recklessly? Hell yes! ...But the more I found out about the game the more something seemed off. I finally realized what it was when I showed a friend the trailer that came out a month or two ago. She described it as "trying too hard to be OMG GRITTY"; and I realized that none of the game's badassery really comes across as genuine. It's trying too hard to come across as vicious and angry, to cash in on the popularity of rage-fueled antiheroes like Kratos from God of War. Not to mention that the more of the game I learned about, the more I realized that the character was a supervillain, or at least an antihero.

Now, I'm not talking slag about Prototype for no reason here. I may actually pick that game up too, once I get my shit together and find a job, and there's nothing wrong with playing an evil character, or at least a ruthless one. But here's the thing: in Prototype, you play a government experiment with superhuman abilities who is absolutely ruthless in attaining his personal goals, and will gladly sacrifice scads of innocent people to do so. In inFamous, you play an ordinary man who is suddenly granted extraordinary powers who has the potential to become a monster like the man from Prototype... or he can fight against his baser nature and become a hero, selflessly fighting on behalf of the people.

It's this idea of choice that so appeals to me. Think about it: most superhero games force you one way or the other. In Superman games you can never kill anybody because that's important to the character. You can never say 'Oh screw it' and use your power to destroy Metropolis. In the new Wolverine game, Logan tears people limb from limb, but all of them deserve it for their evil ways. In inFamous, you decide whether to use your power to do the right thing or the easy thing. You make the choice. Sure it's the same kind of black-and-white choice between comic book villainy and saintly acts of kindness we've been seeing for years, but the choice is still yours to make.

So I went back to inFamous. It comes out in a mere five days, and the demo is available now. (Well, it would be if the Playstation Store weren't completely borked, probably due to lots of people going after the inFamous demo) The game is just barely out of reach, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by Deusoma

So last week, after IGN put out their review, I finally gave in and pre-ordered inFamous, the electric superhero game. (As I like to call it, "The Adventures of the Human Pikachu." It wasn't the number, it was the fact that the guy who wrote the review was totally stoked about it. He genuinely enjoyed playing through inFamous, and I got the distinct impression that he's going to go back to it. And I suspect I will love the hell out of this game for a long time to come. But how did it come to this?

I have to admit, for a while, I was leaning more towards Prototype, the other superhero game coming out this early summer. You see, when I first heard about inFamous, it was described to me by a friend as "It's like Grand Theft Auto, except you have superstrength and can fly." Think about it: watch the announcement trailer, the one that first used that epic phrase; "Save what is left, or destroy it all." At no point does Cole use his electric powers. You see him jumping around, you see explosions, you see a car flying at him, but not one spark comes out of our hero. So I was under the impression that it was going to be like Hancock, except without turning into crap halfway through. When I found out that all of Cole's powers revolve around him emitting electricity from his body, I was devastated. There's melee, yes, but it's just the strength of an ordinary man slightly enhanced by the lightning trailing behind his foot. Sure, you could move cars around, but sending out a static shockwave to flip it into the air just isn't as visceral as picking it up with your bare hands and smashing it into a dude's face. And yeah, you can climb all over the place and glide from building to building, but plenty of gaming heroes can do Parkour these days, and Batman's always been able to glide without having any powers at all.

So I turned to Prototype, where actual flight wasn't available, but at least the powers seemed more badass than electricity. Turning your hands into razor sharp claws? Transforming into your enemies? Hurling cars around recklessly? Hell yes! ...But the more I found out about the game the more something seemed off. I finally realized what it was when I showed a friend the trailer that came out a month or two ago. She described it as "trying too hard to be OMG GRITTY"; and I realized that none of the game's badassery really comes across as genuine. It's trying too hard to come across as vicious and angry, to cash in on the popularity of rage-fueled antiheroes like Kratos from God of War. Not to mention that the more of the game I learned about, the more I realized that the character was a supervillain, or at least an antihero.

Now, I'm not talking slag about Prototype for no reason here. I may actually pick that game up too, once I get my shit together and find a job, and there's nothing wrong with playing an evil character, or at least a ruthless one. But here's the thing: in Prototype, you play a government experiment with superhuman abilities who is absolutely ruthless in attaining his personal goals, and will gladly sacrifice scads of innocent people to do so. In inFamous, you play an ordinary man who is suddenly granted extraordinary powers who has the potential to become a monster like the man from Prototype... or he can fight against his baser nature and become a hero, selflessly fighting on behalf of the people.

It's this idea of choice that so appeals to me. Think about it: most superhero games force you one way or the other. In Superman games you can never kill anybody because that's important to the character. You can never say 'Oh screw it' and use your power to destroy Metropolis. In the new Wolverine game, Logan tears people limb from limb, but all of them deserve it for their evil ways. In inFamous, you decide whether to use your power to do the right thing or the easy thing. You make the choice. Sure it's the same kind of black-and-white choice between comic book villainy and saintly acts of kindness we've been seeing for years, but the choice is still yours to make.

So I went back to inFamous. It comes out in a mere five days, and the demo is available now. (Well, it would be if the Playstation Store weren't completely borked, probably due to lots of people going after the inFamous demo) The game is just barely out of reach, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I think the thing that started to bug me about the way Prototype was handled was that killing random people had zero consequences.  They get on GTA's case for killing cops and so on, but at least there seem to be some sort of consequences for your actions in GTA, even if it's mainly an inconvenience.  You have no reason to hold back in Prototype, and are rewarded with disguises and health if you murder people. 

To me, that's not cool, and not very deep on a game play side anyway.  Infamous, even if its choices are ham-fisted, feel like like it's at least rewarding that style of game play, instead of ignoring it completely.