By jukezypoo 3 Comments
Yesterday my copy of inFAMOUS came in, and while the demo had gotten me excited, I simply wasn't prepared for how well made the game is. The graphics are slick, the action is fluid, the platforming is well executed, and while it doesn't do anything revolutionary, every aspect of the game is polished to a mirror shine.
It's hard to put your finger on the reason why the game is as good as it is, but what struck me was how large the city felt, without actually being much larger than the average game-space. I am still on the first of the game's three islands, and while I can't say whether the gameplay will continue to impress, I find it hard to believe that the feeling of a large, living city will be destroyed.
This started me thinking, how did the developers pull it off?Games like Far-Cry 2, which focus on making the world as massive as they can, end up feeling empty, barring the few checkpoints and areas the developers focused on expanding. On the Other hand, there are games like Fable 2, with relatively confined areas, which are fully developed and expanded, which end up feeling smaller than the world of an open game world should.
What I have found with InFamous is that the developers managed to strike a happy balance between the two. The city is open and relatively large, while still maintaining the feeling that there is something happening in most sections of the city. The developers chose several areas, large squares, parks, and developed city-centers, that they decided to build up more than others, and these give the player a sense of familiarity with the city that they would not get without them.
However, the feeling of knowing certain landmarks is offset by the fact that I still can find myself getting lost in the city, if I'm not paying attention to my map and just frolicking about. The reason for that may be that several areas are relatively non-descript, but if I look around, I always get the feeling that "hey, next time I'm here, I'll remember it," even if It's not true.
Matched with this is the over-arching goal that games like Far-Cry 2 lacked. That game just said "here's you are, figure it out." While having an enormous sandbox to play around in is fun, developers are able to create much more dynamic scenarios when they manage to guide players along a pre-determined path. It is finding the balance between these two aspects that will ultimately decide which way the industry shifts.
In short, InFamous succeeded where so many games failed by creating a world that feels large, while still keeping it small enough so that it could be filled, from edge-to-edge, with people, cars, buildings, and enemies. It is by maintaining the balance between size, and content, that I feel the developers have created a city I'll be happy to play in for the next 12 or so hours until I beat the game.
What do you think? Do you prefer a wide open sandbox, a straightforward, linear game, or one that strikes a balance between the two? Is the trend of wide-open world games a good one, or would you prefer games that give the sense of an open world, while not actually having one?
PS: An update on content. I am just finishing up the massive game that is Persona 4. Along with this, I am completing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and of course, inFamous. I will have reviews of all three upon completion, so expect reviews of Persona 4 and X-Men Origins to be on the horizion.