What makes a great game truly great? Is it the story? The graphics? The gameplay? Or is it the fact that when a company makes a game the right way, the combination of these three produces something that is all-together new and interesting?
Let me start off by saying that inFAMOUS has made it to my top ten games list – a list that is filled with such classics as Ocarina of Time, Super Metroid, and Bioshock. It may not have scratched the top 5 (as those are in a league all their own), but this game does something tremendous; for the first time in a while, I’ve actually had fun doing a game’s side quests and have put off the main quest because of that.
So, let’s get down to it – what makes inFAMOUS so special?
You can tell when a game is lovingly crafted because its mechanics work so overwhelmingly well. In inFAMOUS, I never once had to think about how to move my hands to achieve a button combination to take down an enemy – my hands might as well have been Cole McGrath’s (the protagonist) own hands.
The electrical powers all feel unique and useful in their own way. Even though I’ve heard from friends who’ve played the game as evil that I’m not getting even a tenth of their power, the game was challenging in the way that Bionic Commando SHOULD’VE been. Rather than be a frustrating controller-throw-fest, I was always ready to get back up and try again when I died. One mission in particular took me 10 tries, but the abundance of ways to complete an objective make it so that the game is never frustrating, only a thrill to discover what the best way to dispatch enemies is.
Throw into the electrical powers a mix of melee and close-range grapples, and you’ve got a combat system that feels like a third-person shooter without ever needing you to pick up a gun. The most thrilling times in the game are those where you channel electricity from an unlimited nearby source (like the railways) and dispatch enemies without worrying about your power running out.
Jumping across the city also needs to be mentioned in this section. Never once did I have to go toe-to-toe with the controller to get me up a building (nor down it, unlike the Kotaku reviewer who seemed to have some issues). The parkour moves felt spot-on, something that both Mirror’s Edge and Assassin’s Creed failed to achieve in this sort of style.
Electrically Charged (Part 2)
Apart from being one of the most intuitive games to control in recent memory, inFAMOUS also sports some gorgeous visuals that shouldn’t be underappreciated. No offense to the guys at Rockstar, but even GTAIV’s Liberty City doesn’t feel quite this varied and interesting. Often times, using the map is only a formality because you can get from building to building with ease just by looking at the architecture and following the electrical lines that go across them.
The electrical powers offered another visual treat that I hadn’t seen in a long time – the arcing of the thunderbolts and the zaps Cole performs is perfect, as if he were really zapping and electrifying enemies. The greatest fun you’ll have during the game is watching the splendor as you send an electrical missile or grenade into a large crowd of enemies (or people). The explosion is multi-colored and the enemies go flying in all directions – this is something you can see from the demo, which is on PSN right now.
The graphics in the animated cut scenes are phenomenal as well – featuring what appears to be an HD drawn style of animation, these integral scenes play out the best part of the game, the actual storyline.
Having played the demo, I was expecting a fun little romp through a cool-looking city without too much substance – I couldn’t have been more wrong. Unlike other games where I suddenly find myself wondering how exactly I got to where I am, inFAMOUS always keeps you up-to-date with the story and doesn’t just skip pivotal parts that you then later have to remember for yourself.
The story is a great piece of fiction, and meshes particularly well with the rest of the game and Cole’s powers. As a protagonist, Cole isn’t too expressive, but you get the feeling that he’s a regular guy who’s been thrust into the situation – he is insightful, but not to the point of getting noticed; which is why the idea that he used to just be a simple delivery boy plays out so well in the game.
Featuring supervillains that can only be described as Marvel-esque, the game also weaves a great tale of morality into the fiber of the story itself. Yes, it boils down to a binary “good” or “evil” game in the end, but the choices you make along the way are much more trying than those that you’d have to make in a Bioware RPG. Rather than it showing you that the good path is always the best choice, you’ll often have to decide between food for yourself and your friends or food for others, or even whether or not to save the very people who denounce you as a terrorist. While the moral choices aren’t going to rock the gaming industry with their depth, they are rather interesting for those that try to occupy a moral gray area.
If you own a PS3 and still haven’t bought this game, you are missing out on something special. You owe it to yourself to play an excellent game on your PS3 this year – and with the advent of summer, you’re not going to find a better choice out there than this one. The game is fantastic and the developers deserve your support on this one if we’re ever going to get them make games that start with the word “Sly” and end with the word “Cooper”.