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Review for Infamous (PS3)

by: Rob Kentworth ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

This is a review for Infamous, the prequel to Infamous 2 that was recently released. It's a Sony PS3 exclusive title, made by a company called Sucker Punch. It's also an open-world type game, which sees you controlling a new super-hero by the name of Cole McGrath.

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    What is InFamous? The Birth of a New Super Hero

    One of inFamous' early comic book cutscenes. InFamous is a Playstation 3 exclusive title. The game has an open sand-box world for you to play around in while completing missions. In addition, the game can be looked at as being the origin story for a new super-hero. Only this hero doesn't wear tights and he's blessed (or cursed) with electrical powers.

    Also, the story is quite gritty and some scenes are presented in comic book form. There's quite a lot to like about the game, but there are also some flaws, which'll be detailed.

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    Story

    The game opens with a bang. A big explosion occurs and Cole wakes up to find the city devastated. He's also injured and he needs to get to his friend, Zeke. On his way to meet his friend, he finds that he is able to channel electrical powers. Eventually, he collapses and the game continues after he's recovered, with him trying to master his new-found powers and also deal with the gangs that have taken over the city. He also discovers that a package he was carrying was the actual bomb that went off.

    There's more to the story than what's been mentioned, but to say more would be spoiling things. Needless to say, this only covers the very beginning.

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    Gameplay - Electrifyingly Good

    Cole McGrath hanging from one of the rooftops, with some enemies nearby. As mentioned above, inFamous is an open-world, sand-box game that has you controlling a super-hero by the name of Cole McGrath. As you play the game, you'll work your way through side missions and main story missions as in other open-world games. The game does have a few differences however.

    So, what are the differences? Firstly, the game uses a morality system. Some missions are labelled as good missions and some are labelled as bad missions. If you choose to tackle a good mission, this locks out a bad mission. Also, the other side-missions you can go on allow you to cleanse some territory of enemies if completed. They may still spawn on occasion, but they'll be very rare in those territories, though it could just be that I encountered those enemies as part of an event. Before moving on though, it does need to be said that the side-missions can be repetitive but this is a flaw shared with all or most open-world games.

    Outside of tackling side-missions and story missions, you can upgrade Cole's powers. Whenever you complete a mission or defeat an enemy, you gain experience points. These points can then be spent to upgrade the powers you've unlocked. They're unlocked by going into the sewers and powering up sections of the city from there. The ability to upgrade your powers though is tied into the karma/morality system. You need your karma at specific levels to upgrade them. In addition, good characters have a different set of powers than evil characters have. So, if you want the best abilities, you'll need to focus on acquiring good or bad karma. Also, while on the topic of powers, travel powers allow you to get around the city quite quickly even though you can't use transportation like taxis (trains do go around the city though, at least past a certain point).

    The morality/karma system itself is somewhat flawed as well. During missions, you'll sometimes be prompted to make a choice and it is quite clear what the good choice is. So, the choices aren't difficult at all for the most part and it would have been nice to be faced with choices that often force you to think. A nice touch related to the karma system though is that Cole's disposition dictates how the police and citizens react to him.

    At the end of the day, the gameplay can be fun, especially as you get more powers (like travel powers).A look at the powers menu in inFamous.  Also, until you can clear the side-missions in the city, the enemies will keep bothering you which may annoy as they tend to spawn on the rooftops and they can be hard to target if you're on the ground.

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    Replayability

    In terms of replayability, there is some. Firstly, after you've beaten the game, you can continue after the game's end to find all of the hidden items and there are quite a few to find. Granted, extra energy for Cole to store is pretty worthless once you've beaten the game, but there are also the dead drops to find that shed further light on the game's story.

    In addition to the above, you can replay the game to try out a different set of powers. They're variations on the same power, but you will still find they operate differently.

    Apart from that though, unless you really enjoy the game and the story, there isn't much reason to replay the game.

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    User Interface/Controls

    The user interface is designed pretty well. When you press select to open up the map, it's clear what each label/icon means. On the subject of the game's menus, they're also pretty well designed. You can watch the comic book like cutscenes you've previously viewed from the menu, listen to the dead drop messages you've found and also view the powers menu. The power's menu is also nicely designed, with it being clear what each power and upgrade does. You can also see what upgrades are for a good character and what are for evil characters.

    Control wise, everything's mostly fine. My only gripe is that while it's fun to traverse the city and climb up city buildings, Cole can sometimes grab onto ledges etc. when you don't want him to as he attaches himself to the nearest grabbable object when you jump or fall.

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    Graphics - Needs An Extra Jolt

    Cole wakes up to a devastated city at the start of the game. The graphics at the time of writing this review aren't the best out there anymore, but they're still not bad. The comic book cutscenes are especially nice, which helps with the game's overall visual appeal at times. Granted, some people may find the comic book scenes to not be so appealing because of the colours used and such. However, if you've read comic books and enjoy them, then you will probably really enjoy the static scenes ripped right from a comic book, with Cole narrating what's going on.

    Outside of the comic book like graphics, the world may look a bit drab and unappealing to people. The city's devastated, so it's in ruins and the colour is rather bland. There is a nice touch that's been implemented though when it comes to the city. If you're a good character, then you'll find that as you progress through the game and complete side-missions, the city is actually cleaned up.

    When it comes to the enemy designs, there are three different gangs for you to face and each has a distinct look. Within each gang, there are also different types of enemies who again have their own look in keeping with the gang's visual style.

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    Sound

    The game's sound is pretty decent. When you pass people by on the streets, they will say things to Cole and this can differ based on his allignment. There isn't a great deal of variation, but it's still nice that it was implemented. In addition to the citizens of Empire City having their own dialog when Cole passes them by. The guns sound different as well. Then there's the city noise itself, like the noise of cars passing by.

    As you'd expect, Cole's electrical powers sound... well, electrifying. When he crackles with electricity, the noise is appropiate and when you fire a blast of electricity at enemies or throw a bomb that explodes in a torrent of electrical currents, it sounds great. Music isn't played often at all however.

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    Overall

    Cole struggles to control his newfound powers at the start. The game's really pretty good. Even if you only play the game once, you'll find that the game lasts quite a while, when compared to the first-person shooters released these days. This is just tackling the main stories as well, because if you try and do everything, it'll keep you busy a while longer.

    In addition to the above, the game is genuinely enjoyable even if the side-missions and such can get repetitive at times. Of course, the key question is 'what game doesn't get repetitive, especially when it comes to open-world titles?' The only real downside is that apart from collecting blast shards that boost Cole's energy storage capacity and dead drops that fill in the game's story, there's not much else to do after the game's complete.

    At the end of the day, if you fancy playing a super-hero game that lets you roam a city freely while dispatching enemies, then this title is the one you want. However, it's not as good as the sequel, which is to be expected. Still though, if you play this first, you get to see the beginning of Cole's story and you will be able to get small gameplay bonuses in the sequel should you get it thanks to the sequel examining your trophy data.

    You may also find these links helpful:

    Infamous Unlockables Guide: Blast Shards

    Infamous Stunt Guide