inFamous

It's not obvious why, but a question that might pop up while you play inFamous is: can electricity keep a person clean? The reason this might come up is that, as Cole, hero or villain in Sucker Punch's action adventure, you instantly die the moment you make contact with water, electrocuted by the very ability that makes Cole special. Well, it's better than an invisible barrier, having a game world that is actually a series of islands, from which only one man would fail to escape. Why so negative though? Not for any good reason really. Put aside daft questions like how and why, and what's left is a superb adventure for the Playstation 3, with dazzling moves, plenty of missions, some vague ability to direct the plot, and a cast of characters that, oh, okay, forget that last bit, they should mostly be shot, but the rest stands: the game is actually superb, and this review discusses some of the reasons why, as well as keeping in mind the few flaws that prevent the game from achieving true greatness.

inFamous

Cole, or generic alpha male to give him his full name, is in a proper pickle. After some sort of mysterious incident, he has some pretty spectacular powers, but a lot of fingers are pointed at him for having caused all the problems in the first place. It's pretty easy to blame somebody when the result for them is the ability to shoot lightning bolts from their fingertips. With death and destruction spreading throughout the city, and all residents quarantined from the rest of the world, people are getting desperate for food, shelter and an escape. Cole can offer the solution, but the gamer is offered the choice whether this escape will be alive, or at the hands of a maniacal, electricity-wielding psychopath that thinks small furry animals should mostly be toasted with blue bolts of what the game often refers to as 'juice'. Throughout the game, players are offered the choice to venture down either of these paths, with sign posts so bold and bright they will almost blind you with their excessive dichotomy.

But why so negative? After saying that there were many positives! The reason is that a lot of the surplus pap is actually irrelevant. It doesn't matter that some of the characters are a bit annoying - many of them fit with the survival situation. It's not a problem that the moral decisions have flags the size of a small moon - it's just nice to have them. It doesn't even matter that the main hero is a bit generic, since he has a cool yellow jacket and a boat load of super powers, including the ability to slow his descent with electric thrusters, grind on electric rails, summon lightning storms and recharge himself from any available electric source. Though it takes some time to build up your powers, you're essentially unleashed on the city, powers at the ready, with a whole host of enemies and innocents to tangle with. The missions waste no time getting you to try out your powers too. Some might feel a tiny bit repetitive, but they're each an excuse to think up a new way to kick enemies butts off bridges, slam them into walls or cast them into the ocean.

inFamous

The central plot revolves around Cole trying to catch the person responsible for the incident that gave him his powers, and when a little federal persuasion comes his way, missions unfold as you might expect, with bad guys needing to be shot, trains destined for saving, electricity to be restored and that sort of thing. Other characters, such as Cole's friend Zeke, add a little flesh to the story, with some reasonable enough dialogue that keep things ticking along. Really though, it's all about leaping through the massive cities, scrambling up buildings, zapping enemies and generally doing cool stuff you probably wish you could do in real life (except that getting electrocuted at the first sign of water bit). With a plot and missions that last upwards of 15 hours, things would get repetitive were it not for the solid combat and feeling of freedom. There are plenty of side missions, which can be tackled in virtually any order, which further adds to the sense of scale and free choice.

Helpfully, the game looks pretty good too. As a Sony exclusive, the developers clearly had time to spend designing the game specifically for the chosen console, and it certainly looks sharper, more colourful and imaginative than close rival [Prototype], which appears to have taken on a little too much. inFamous has the resources available to make a polished adventure, and by avoiding the frontiers to technology and imagination, the game succeeds in being one of the year's more enjoyable action games - even though some of the voicework grates in a few places. It's not that it's particularly bad, it's just that there are a few unnecessary things said, and some of the dialogue just feels a little forced and uninspired. The voicework in Oblivion might have been chopped together by a clumsy, hyperactive baboon, but it was at least enthusiastic. inFamous sets most characters up to be gritty throughout, then adds Zeke as a 'comedy' sidekick, when perhaps a few more dimensions per character might have been nice.

inFamous

There's generally not a lot of music, except in cutscenes, but it's fairly decent when featured. More impressive are the various sound effects, particularly the explosions and lightning sounds, which were clearly the focus of a fair bit of attention. It all serves to maintain a good level of immersion in the game, even when the boss fights, of which there are a reasonable number, verge on the slippery side of crazy. The game isn't particularly hard, especially in the featured boss battles, but the trophy collection will increase the lastability by demanding that you play through the game for good and bad, as well as collecting items in the way that nearly every modern adventure does. After 30 hours or so of quiet enjoyable gameplay, the score below seems perfectly justified, despite the ease with which complaints might flow. inFamous is best enjoyed with your thinky brain switched off, and your action-adventure mindset programmed for 24-hour use. With that in mind, inFamous is well worth a go, and arguably outdoes the summer competition.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Sucker Punch

Players:

1

Online:

None

Release:

2009-05-29

Trophies:

50

Review summary

Gameplay:

Thoroughly enjoyable, if not as powerful as Prototype

Graphics:

Electric visuals and immersive comic-book scenes

Sound:

Solid voicework, reasonable music and good effects

Lastability:

Lots to find, and good/evil replay value

9.0

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Not even I was designed perfectly. I was designed with too much empathy for human suffering. I overcame that problem, true story.