Giant Bomb Review

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inFamous Review

5
  • PS3

Dynamic, pinpoint-precise combat and a sprawling urban landscape define this great open-world action game from Sucker Punch.

There's a lot of city out there to save.
Let's go ahead and get InFamous' short list of downsides out of the way. Technically, the game is a little rough around the edges; occasional frame rate and draw-in issues and some questionable character animation make it look slightly less impressive than what you'd want from a PlayStation 3 exclusive. It's a little on the hard side in the first few hours, before you start building up your wild electrical superpowers and you can really fight back against the large number of enemies the game throws at you. Oh, and I guess your portly sidekick Zeke is kind of annoying from time to time.

OK, now that those minor complaints are out of the way, I can spend the rest of the review talking about how much fun I had blasting, zapping, climbing, and flying around the big urban comic book world Sucker Punch created for this game.

InFamous really is a comic book transposed into the video game format. It even starts out with a quick, outlandish origin story: You're bike messenger Cole McGrath, delivering a routine package that turns out to be a mysterious, unusual bomb. After unwittingly leveling half of Empire City, you wake up in the smoldering crater with the sudden ability to control electricity and use it as a weapon. You'll need all the help you can get, because the city is placed under quarantine as a plague ravages the survivors and a bunch of gangs terrorize the populace. It's clear the government isn't coming to help anytime soon, so Cole has to step up and try to make a difference amidst all the madness.

In the wake of the bomb, there are a bunch of other comic book-style villains and supporting characters coloring up the ruins of Empire City. There's a frail, embittered old man with telekinetic powers; a freaky telepathic lady with some serious jealousy issues; your aforementioned chubby friend Zeke; your now ex-girlfriend who blames you for blowing up her sister along with half the city's residents; a mysterious Illuminati-esque organization which may or may not have engineered the blast; and, of course, the shadowy, hooded, mechanical-armed figure who's actually pulling all the strings.

The electric powers are a ton of fun to use.
I was worried the story would get a little boilerplate (it is a video game, after all), but it throws several major twists at you in the second half that really ratchet up the pace and make you want to keep playing to find out what the heck is going on. It helps that the cutscenes, which are presented like an animated graphic novel, are really slick and well-produced.

Even if the story was trite or nonexistent, though, the quality of the action would be enough to carry InFamous. The speed and feel of the movement, aiming, firing, dodging, climbing, and jumping has a looseness and fluidity that makes the game extremely satisfying to play. Navigating the urban environment is also a pleasure; Cole automatically grabs for ledges and handholds, allowing him to make his way up building faces, lampposts, and just about any other city feature with ease, so you can get around as easily as you can dish out your attacks.

The brilliant controls work with the array of superpowers at your disposal--which mostly mimic established shooter archetypes like grenades, rocket launchers, and sniper rifles, and a few borrowed from Star Wars like a kinetic push and a ground slam--to make it incredibly satisfying to use all your destructive tools against the game's many enemies. There are almost endless ways to combine the many powers together dynamically in a big firefight; it's enough to keep the combat totally engaging till the end of the game, especially since you get access to new powers at regular intervals right up to the last few missions.

Your decisions influence what kinds of powers you have.
You earn experience points for just about everything you do in the game, from stylish enemy takedowns to healing injured civilians, and you can cash these in on numerous upgrades for each power that follow one of two paths, depending on your moral alignment. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the game presents choices throughout the storyline that lets you play Cole as a good or evil character. Some of the choices seem a little contrived, while some make more sense in context; all of them are explicitly outlined to you by voiceover right before you get to decide, so there's never any mystery about what your options are. You'll probably want to stick to a single alignment throughout a single playthrough, since there are three levels of both good and evil karma to upgrade through.

Anyway, in practical terms your alignment primarily determines which upgrades you have access to. The powers all have three upgrades, one for each karma level, and each subsequent upgrade adds some kind of damage boost, extra effect, or modifier, making it well worth maxing out as many of them as you can. The good versions of the powers focus on restraining enemies without killing them and minimizing civilian casualties, while the evil powers are all about big, wanton destruction. Your alignment also makes your electricity blue or red, but it doesn't have much bearing on the storyline--other than a couple of minor points, and the way the populace reacts to you--so if you don't have any moral hangups, you can tailor your choices to the sort of weapons you'd like to use. Both styles are fun to play, just in different ways.

There are some crazy, bigger-than-life characters in here.
Empire City is a big open world with three distinctive islands, so like Grand Theft Auto or any of its innumerable ilk, you're free to approach the core story missions and a number of side activities with some flexibility. A few side missions are only available to either good or evil characters, and there are enough different types of objectives that I never got tired of doing side missions, until I reached the end of the game and realized I'd actually done all of them. (It helps that side missions net you a lot of experience points.) The same goes for the game's collectibles; I kept getting derailed from the storyline to climb around looking for blast shards (numbering in the hundreds) and "dead drops," or audio recordings wired into satellite dishes (around three dozen). These collectibles have actual purpose, since the shards increase your charge capacity (essentially your ammo), and the dead drops fill in background story elements by playing back the audio logs of a missing secret government agent who's been working the Empire City case since long before the blast.

Aside from the minor technical issues, there are a lot of good things to say about InFamous' presentation. The city is densely packed and nicely designed with a variety of different building styles (which is nice, since you see them up-close so frequently). In lieu of a repeating day-to-night cycle, I like that the story is broken up into specific days with preset weather and lighting conditions, so the visual backdrop can work to help set the tone of the story. The music is great and has a really gritty, urban feel to it with a lot of driving percussion; I just wish you got to hear more of it. It's a nicely produced package, overall.

But it's the quality of the central action in InFamous that I keep coming back to. Everything else would be fancy window dressing if Sucker Punch hadn't nailed the basic gameplay elements, the simple moving and shooting, as precisely as it did. InFamous feels like a game designed from the very ground up to be fun to play, so I guess it's no surprise that as soon as the credits finished rolling on my good version of Cole, I started up an evil one to play it all over again.
Brad Shoemaker on Google+
145 Comments
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Posted by InFamous91

just finishing playing the demo.....game is HOT!!!!!!!!

Posted by Smitatoe

awesome review Brad. kinda makes me wanna get a PS3 now.

Posted by Tovan

I'm really looking forward to this game.

Posted by Caddy

Great review. I played the demo earlier and loved it. I have pre-ordered it tonight, and can't wait for it next week!

Posted by CitizenKane

I still have to download the demo.  I'm pretty sure I'll just end up buying it anyways, though.  I have been waiting for this game since I read GI's article a few months back.

Posted by JDUB_XL

Dude!

Posted by Curufinwe

This review might cheer up the GAF kids driven to madness by the 7/10 score from Eurogamer.

Posted by LiveOrDie1212

MUST.GET.INFAMOUS

Posted by troyx

i knew brad would give it 5 stars ,great review anyway

Edited by FelixLighter

Your review pretty much matched my impression of the demo.  Good to hear that it stays fun throughout the full game.

Posted by LiquidPrince

Awesome!

Edited by AchievementRank

looks cool Wouldve bought this if it was on 360.


But pass i guess. ill have to buy Prototype instead
Posted by pirate_republic

Sweet, good review Brad.

Posted by rateoforange

I played the demo last night. This game is way cool. I haven't felt that kind of freewheeling, destructive elation since Crackdown. It's 70% Crackdown, 30% GTA IV.

Posted by RedSox8933

Love the demo, can't wait for the game.

Posted by REDRUN

Sweet review. This is already on my list of games to pick up.

Posted by SyphonFilter0

This game is truly amazing, go buy this when it releases may 26th. Easily the best open world game this gen.

Posted by ISmoochyI

can't wait to get this!  i was on the edge about it but when i played the demo it turned out to be awesome

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Damn I want to play this game bad, 

It's officaly the next thing I'm buying, ans as soon as possible. 
Posted by natetodamax

Time to start saving up for a PS3

Posted by Yagami

I had my deep doubts about this game, glad B-rad proved me wrong. Well written review as always Brad!

Posted by Coleslaw893

w00t!! Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Posted by ChrisTaran

Well, looks like I'll be playing the demo tonight!

Edited by Seppli

Jup. Infamous is the system seller for me. I am a big sucker for open world games. After the upcoming pricedrop, nothing will stop me from picking up a PS3 with Infamous. Also, I am very fond of Amon Tobin, who did the soundtrack. Great stuff!

Posted by lordofultima

Very nicely written review Brad, I'm sort of glad to hear the story is sort of set whether you're good or evil, but at the same time it'll make me feel like there's no incentive to do good...since I plan on going way evil though, I guess that's not too much of an issue.

Posted by tekmojo

Yay

Posted by Luthorcrow

No game will drive me to buy the PS3.  It just not worth it.

The sells on this game are going to hurt stay in the PS3 ghetto.

Good to hear the game turned at well.

Posted by JackiJinx

Certainly sounds good. Perhaps this is the game to finally push me to get the system...once I have a stable income coming in again, that is.

Posted by MetalGearSunny
@natetodamax: lol
Posted by MetalGearSunny

This game is amazing...at least the demo is. I can't wait for the full version.

And great review Brad!

Posted by Jared

Yea....I'm going to pick this up next week!

Posted by jakob187

Yet again, Sucker Punch proves why they are an amazing developer.  Between Sly and Infamous, it doesn't seem like they know how to make bad games.


This game makes me wish I had a PS3.
Posted by eternaLightness

This game has been getting some pretty good reviews. Played the demo yesterday and really enjoyed it. Can't wait to pick it up

Edited by Crono

The Demo was awesome - Can't wait for Tuesday!  Another great review from B-Rad

Posted by VegasAcer

Even the demo that I played last night was amazing!  Glad to see other people think so too!

Posted by Fei

Sad to say I wont be able to play this game as a 360 player but definately will miss this gem.

Posted by RHCPfan24

This game is going to be great. The demo was fun and Brad's review sounds stellar. Can't wait!

Posted by DavidSnakes

Brad, it's no GTA4

Posted by TomA

Wow lots of unexpected high reviews recently NICE!!!

Posted by giyanks22

great review

Posted by imayellowfellow

i was really indifferent about this game from the onset, but lately its been looking really promising and im pretty down to get it now

Posted by Heavenly_King

THIS GAME IS AWESOME!!!!

Edited by ivanbez

demo was really good. 

i think the PS3 is going to start rebounding and become more popular with all of its exclusives coming out. 
Posted by Under_Influenz

A couple of more days. I cannot wait. 

Posted by needforswede
Voxel said:
Time to start saving up for a PS3
exactly
Edited by Corpulate

Damn i can't wait till Tuesday at least i have Bionic Commando to hold till then.

I like my 360 but wow you have to admit PS3 is coming strong in a huge way beyond that its amazing how the GiantBomb crew always has a way to put a personal touch in everything from podcasts to videos to this excellent review just makes me really appreciate what they do here.

Posted by gimmysumcowbel

cant wait for tuesday!

why cant this come out before three day weekend

Posted by KaosAngel

Ordered mine from Play-Asia for $50 (go a coupon) and free shipping to Japan.  I hope it's good...the university started back up, so I can only play this in an hour burst everyday!  I hope it's as good as people are saying.  >_<

Posted by ReTarDedFisHy

Need. inFAMOUS.

Posted by SolidEyeSystem

Awesome review.  I am loving this demo, can't wait to get the full game.

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