inFamous First Impressions

Six or seven months ago a friend asked me if I’d heard anything about this inFamous game coming out for PS3. At the time I hadn’t (thank you World of Warcraft for so completely isolating me from the rest of the videogame world) so I looked a little into the game, interested to see what my friend was excited about (it takes a lot to get him hyped about a game). In inFamous I found a game with which I’ve had something of a love/hate relationship. I LOVED the concept of the game. I mean, c’mon, GTA with superpowers! A normal guy caught in a really shitty situation suddenly burdened by awesome powers taking on huge groups of evil thugs! That is my kind of game! That is my kind of story!

As I kept me eye on the project development, though, I found my initial enthusiasm somewhat dampened. The look of the game, while solid, put me off a bit; it looked good but not what I would expect from a PS3 exclusive title. The weird character movements during ingame dialogue scenes scared the hell out of me; they just looked weird and unnatural. More recently, the videos of the moral choice sequences annoyed me; couldn’t get excited about semi-contrived scenarios that pause for Cole monologuing about which is the nice choice and which is the bad choice. Despite these confidence shaking looks at the game I kept coming back because I still LOVED the concept and all the potential inherent therein.

So, now that inFamous is out, now that I’ve had a couple days with the game, what kind of First Impression does the game make?

After spending some hours over a couple days, I’m finding inFamous to be a mixed bag; though a bag where the good far outweighs the bad. The very first element of inFamous I need to address is the controls. Put simply, inFamous sets a new standard for controls in a third-person action game. Seriously, if the GTA games had this controls this good, well I would have a lot more to look forward to in GTA than the usual desire to see all the great stuff Rockstar puts in while trying to ignore the lackluster controls we all overlook in that series.

Everything feels pitch perfect. Running, climbing, shooting, dodging, switching between powers, it all happens smoothly and simply. Most impressive of all, as you’re doing all the aforementioned actions you feel unbelievably powerful playing Cole. My initial, knee-jerk reaction was actually quite opposite as, at the beginning, I felt like the game had a tendency to throw a lot of enemies at me before I’d gathered the abilities to deal with so much. But that’s another well done aspect of inFamous’ gameplay: it rewards you as you familiarize yourself with and experience the controls and Cole’s powers. Around the start of the second third of the game I was feeling comfortable that I sought out groups of thugs to see how much I could handle. I was surprised and satisfied to discover I could handle a hell of a lot before the masses brought me down.

Now earlier I said I was finding the game to be a mixed bag, so what makes it mixed? Well, at the point I’m at in the game, the story isn’t really doing it for me. Not a whole lot of character interaction going on except some phone calls telling me about my missions and the little bit of interaction there is has failed to draw me in like I hoped. And Cole’s best friend, Zeke? Yea I’m hoping at some point I get a choice to save him or let him die because he’s just annoying as hell and really brings nothing to the game at all. I really, really HATE Zeke. The animations in game are also pretty rough, though there are not a lot of them as the game uses a cool comic book panel format to show the significant events of the story. The moral choice sequences work pretty well in the context of the story and do well avoiding the contrived feel I got from the pre-release gameplay videos and trailers.

I’m really looking forward to finishing out of the rest of inFamous in the next couple days and I think Sucker Punch has the groundwork for a really impressive series of games on their hands. If the second half of the game offers a little more attention to story and hopefully Zeke’s murder, inFamous could easily become one of my favorite games in recent memory.