|By Charlie Goodrich||Friday, 3 Jul 2009|
In a burst of light Infamous sparks to life. I mean this quite literally. There is no start menu or title screen. Your only option is to press start and watch as a giant explosion rocks Empire City. You then take control of Cole who is in the middle of a lake of fire. This is one of the most memorable ways a video game has ever started. Your goal at this point is to guide Cole to safety while completing tutorial actions. You are then left with some questions. What caused this explosion, why is Cole still alive, and what will become of Empire City? If you choose to play Infamous you’ll have a good time answering these questions. After the explosion, Empire City is placed under quarantine by the United States government. Crime sky rockets as gangs take control of the streets and the city plunges into a cesspool. Cole discovers that he has electric-based powers soon after recovering in the hospital, and that he is growing stronger. He must now choose whether to use his powers to save the city or use his power to take control. This means you get to make karma choices throughout the game. If you become a hero the people will cheer you and throw rocks at your enemies. Becoming evil causes Cole’s skin to turn a pale white and he is the one being pelted with stones. Each path has unique powers for Cole to unlock and missions to complete, as well as, subtle storyline changes. As Cole progresses through the main story he learns more about what caused the explosion and who is responsible. The supporting cast of characters is nicely refined as well which adds to the plot. You learn the backgrounds of those around you and your relationships with them change. Overall the story is fairly good. It won’t win any
awards but it gets the job done and keeps the game interesting. Later parts of the game have some twists and turns but they are fairly predictable. Luckily, that doesn’t take away from the quality of the story. One of the best aspects of Infamous is that you feel like a superhero. Infamous does a wonderful job of turning Cole into a superhero/villain, and I’m not sure I have ever played a game that did this better. His powers are a main reason Infamous is a fun game and add to the superhero atmosphere. The first missions of the game are used as a way to explore Cole’s powers. He starts with three base powers. First is the ability to shoot an electric bolt from your hands. This serves as Cole’s standard attack. He can also summon a shockwave of electricity. Shockwave knocks objects and people out of your way and sends them whirling through the air. Third is the thunder drop power. When jumping to the ground from a building, Cole can execute thunder drop to become a comet of electricity. Upon impact, electricity shoots out in all directions. As you complete missions Cole gains new powers. The experience points you receive by finishing missions and killing enemies can be used to upgrade your powers thus adding new effects and strength. By the end of
the game Cole can throw electric grenades, shoot electric missiles, suck the life out of enemies, revive pedestrians, glide through the air, shoot out lightning like a Jedi (think the Emperor in Star Wars), concentrate a bolt of lightning to achieve sniper rifle precision, charge electricity for a powerful blast, and conjure a lightning storm that travels along the ground and destroys anything that touches it. He becomes a powerhouse that makes you feel like a superhero.
The game play in Infamous is what primarily makes this a fun game. This sandbox style game stands out because of Cole’s agility and easy access the highest buildings and go from one side of the city to the other in mere minutes. When jumping towards a building or telephone pole or almost any kind of upward structure Cole will latch on and quickly begin his accent. There are many times when playing that you’ll grab onto a ledge or tree that you did not want to. This is the only downside to the climbing mechanic. Cole has a magnetic pull that will guide him when falling or jumping and it can be frustrating. Other than that the controls are simple and easy to get use to. The combat is awesome because of the simple controls and variety of powers. Every power is useful and I found a practical use for all of them. Infamous is a game that requires exploration and encourages it. You will want to complete side missions for two reasons, and the first I already mentioned, quick experience points. Secondly, when you compete a side mission you clear out a section of the city and enemies won’t respawn. This is very helpful. The only negative of completing side missions is their lack of variety. You either kill some bad guys, protect people from bad guys, help destroy surveillance equipment on their building, or race from one point to another. They become repetitive fast and lack originality. The karma specific missions are similar. If you have good karma you will mostly protect people and if you have bad karma you will kill them. Both the sound and graphics in Infamous are nothing special. The sound effects and background noises do help Empire City come alive. The lightning attacks and crushing enemies with cars also sound great. However, the music fails in the music department. There is a severe lack of music throughout the game. Many situations could have benefited from a soundtrack of some kind but there is silence. Infamous’ graphics fail to impress on a whole. The city is broken into three districts but each looks alike. The character models are dull, and the pedestrians have only a few different appearances. The only standout part of the graphics are the cut scenes. They are done in a comic book style with parts of the background or foreground in motion to give the illusion of three dimensions. I was impressed with how good it looked. Infamous is a must buy for any PS3 owner. The story is decent, the game play is fun, and there is a lot of replay value. There are a few issues like the mission variety and Cole grabbing everything in sight while falling to the ground. These flaws are worth overlooking and hopefully they will be addressed in the sequel.