Review by kefka989

"Thomas Eddison's Dream come true"

It seems more and more that the concept of good and evil is being included in video games. Black and White was probably the first hyped game to include this system but now most games seem to include it as a means of extending gameplay. Well, now we have another game that focuses on the choices rather then adding them in as a simple design ploy, InFamous for the PS3.

InFamous stars Cole, a delivery boy who happens to be assigned to ship a package that blows up in his face when he checks it out. It nearly destroys an entire city, killing many, except for Cole who manages to escape. The result is that not only is the city devastated, but it's also cut off from the outside world, as a plague shows up not long after the blast. The city ends up going to hell in a hand basket as law loses control and a new gang of plague infected maniacs, the Reapers, gain control of the city and launch a campaign of terror and control. Cole is left the only one to do anything about it, as the bomb not only left him alive, but with new powers, namely electricity. He can absorb energy into his body like a battery, and can discharge it in the form of lightning bolts from his hands, blasts of electrical force from his body, and many other powers that manifest as he goes along. He attempts to find out why he was set up with the bomb in the first place and find out the source of the plague as well as who is running the Reapers.

Right away you might imagine that the game is rather straight forward. You are electrically powered, which has the side effect of water causing you extreme pain and even death if you stay in it too long or fall too deep, providing a perfect excuse as to why you cannot swim from one place to the other. Your basic electrical attack, the lightning bolt, uses no energy, while all your other powers, such as the energy shove or the electric grenade, use up bits of your energy. You can replenish this energy by absorbing electricity from near by objects such as lamp posts and cars, though many will only offer so much energy before they run dry. Sucking up electricity also heals you, which is important because you will take damage from all sides often, the Reapers working on the ground, sometimes calling in reinforcements up around and behind you, and always seeming to have patrols on roof tops that rain bullets down on you from above.

Moving about is probably the best thing about the game. The city is an open world, so you have to run, jump, and climb from one spot to the other. This is done fairly well evidently because Cole was into urban exploration before he took his job as a delivery boy, giving him the ability to climb nearly anything and jump from roof top to roof top fairly effectively. He can get up buildings rather fast, using a system like the one in Assassin's Creed, Cole grabs onto every ledge he can get his fingers on, jumping up windows and drain pipes and over hangs and just about everything else. What really makes the jumping and movement so intuitive is that the game judges where you are going and predicts what you're trying to do. Say you are jumping onto an electrical cable connecting two buildings. Any other game would probably require you to land dead on the cable or miss it utterly, and once your on force you to run straight or run right off of it if you deviated left or right at all. This game instead figures out that your running for the cable if you start correcting yourself mid-jump to aim at it or it's the only thing to jump too, and automatically aims you towards the cable at the last minute (just in case you were not trying to jump down to the street), and once you are on it you cannot fall unless you jump off or drop down. This makes running and jumping so easy and fun that it's a wonder other games have not done this before.

Lastly, lets look at the karma system. The game offers you the chance to play the super hero if you like or choose to be a super villain. The story eventually has you accused of being a terrorist that intentionally set off the bomb and caused the plague, so people generally distrust you and despise you early on. As you play, you are given options on what to do. For example, one part has you needing to deal with some guards protecting a path. You can either run up and assault them and have them drop the hammer on you, or go the evil path and shoot lightning at them from inside a crowd, making the guards attack the crowd in response and letting you to sneak by unnoticed. These choices will determine mostly if you will end up good or evil, though general actions also help. Taking out Reapers, healing people on the street, doing good missions, and capturing enemies alive helps keep you on the path of good. Killing civilians, draining the life from others, doing evil missions, and such help make you more evil. Do good things and the people will respect you more and the cops will even help you out when they are around. Being evil tends to be a bit easier as trying to avoid damaging civilians when Reapers are buzzing around them is hard to do, and eventually you can even have the Reapers following you around if you are evil enough, though the people and police will sometimes attack you on sight. Being good or evil also allows for further upgrades, so you generally have to commit. Being a little bit of both means you won't be able to upgrade your lightning or push attacks at all and you cannot unlock the extra powers. Good characters can learn a power that lets you strike enemies behind and around metal objects if they are using them as cover, while the evil side can gain an attack that chains lightning to living thing standing near the first target.

The game is particularly fun and has a lot going for it but it's not perfect. While the jumping mechanic works well, it can hinder sometimes. There are collectable ‘shards' that are located all over the place, mostly on the walls of structures. They are usually between jumps or ledges, which means you have to move across or jump down. You can drop down but if you have to jump to it, since there is no ledge, the game often steers you towards a ledge and makes you miss the shard. Some worse ones are shards that are tucked between two walls, and trying to jump down and across often just makes you jump to the other ledge. Another problem is purely annoyance, the range of your enemies. They seem to use AK-47's, not exactly sniper rifles, yet they attack with amazing accuracy from vast distances. Sometimes you will be hit multiple times by an enemy a city block away that looks like a scurrying dot, well out of the range of your own attacks. Eventually you can learn a sniper skill but that uses up huge amounts of energy for each shot. The worst was a mission where you have to defend a spot and you are being attacked from all sides. I killed all the enemies within range but there were two on opposite sides of me too far away to attack, and I could not leave the area, so they peppered me with accurate cross fire since their high angle meant I had no cover regardless of were I was and I was cut down. Lastly, there are a few glitches here and there, such as enemies that sink into the ground when you hit them, enemies that repeatedly clip into objects and are out of range, and characters that have their behavior's screwed up, such as one where I was supposed to be led by a character but they were knocked aside by a screaming civilian and stopped leading me on, leaving me stuck.

Besides these few faults the game is incredibly fun. The jumping makes travel easy, the powers are fun to use, and the ability to choose your path makes it more personable. I mentioned earlier that some games use this feature to extend play, and that's somewhat true here. The game is fairly decent in size but it's doubled by the fact that the game has two distinct paths you can take based on your karma, even offering two entirely different endings depending on your alignment. Though rather then making the game feel artificially lengthened it seems to work, offering you a chance to try both sides and allowing for more fun to be enjoyed. It also seems that the game avoids the problem that was in Fable, where regardless of if you were good or evil, the game still had a choice at the very end that determined your final alignment, which meant that you could have been good the whole game and have that mean nothing if you chose the evil choice at the end. This one has you generally commit in order to gain the powers you need to succeed later in the game. Hopefully this game will give people more reasons to get a PS3 as this game is definitely worth playing.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/09

Game Release: inFamous (US, 05/26/09)


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