“With time, I’m learning to control it. Master it. Just hope it’s not too late.”
— Cole MacGrath
inFAMOUS is a game exclusively for the PS3, which was developed by Sucker Punch Productions in 2009. The game follows Cole MacGrath, a bike courier living in the fictional Empire City (based on New York). A devastating explosion in one of the districts takes thousands of lives, leaving Cole the only survivor. The thing is, he also acquired electric superpowers in the process, and he must choose wether to use these powers for good, or evil. Cole must go up against a variety foes and challenges to discover the answer to the greatest question of all, why did he survive?
inFAMOUS has one of the most captivating and interesting stories ever written for a video game. The first thing that happens is a massive explosion, and if that doesn’t interest you right from the get-go, then I don’t know what will. A short way into the game you meet a woman named Moya who is looking for her husband John, who was working to infiltrate the First Sons, the organization who created the Ray Sphere, the device that caused the explosion which gave you your powers. It’s an elaborate series of events that keeps you asking questions the whole way through, right up until you reach the end of the game.
The main character Cole is essentially just your average guy until he gets his powers. He becomes quite an elaborate character, since the gift of receiving superpowers becomes a burden which turns his life into a mess of questions to which he is far from answering. Cole’s growth into a hero, or a public enemy is brilliantly thought out. The game pauses and gives you glimpses into Cole’s head, where you hear his thoughts on a situation, and are then given a choice between two options of how you would like to take action. Although these decisions are sometimes very black and white, some of them make you really question which choice is the right one. Seeing how Cole thinks, and how he handles this difficult life which has been handed to him gives you a good idea of how strong he is as a character, and when you reach the conclusion, he’s become so elaborate that you just want his story to keep going forever.
Cole’s best friend Zeke is a character who is always trying to help out as best he can. He is a bit irritating at first, since his dialogue is pretty boring, and he relies on Cole for almost anything. As the game progresses however, he becomes much more interesting, as it becomes clear that he is envious of your powers, and he proves to be a very well thought out character. Cole’s girlfriend Trish is quite a static character, and Cole is in love with her all throughout the game, even though she hates you most of the time, and she seems only to exist so that Cole can feel bad about himself. The character Moya is really only there to give you missions and to seek out John, but as you discover her true intentions you start to wonder who she really is, and why she wants you working for her. Kessler is the character who is most shrouded in mystery, as he seems to be the mastermind behind the whole game, and he does everything he can to make Cole’s life a challenge. The game is worth playing through simply to find out who he is, and what his motivations are, and the answers will make you think about this game for quite a while.
Overall, the story of inFAMOUS is full of well written characters, and captivating plot which will keep you glued to the game for hours.
There is only one word to describe playing inFAMOUS: Fun. Cole’s electric superpowers make you feel unstoppable. Until you run out of electricity, that is. The game gives you just enough power to keep any story or side mission fun, but not too easy. The game has a few minor bugs, but such blemishes occur so rarely that they do not detract from overall gameplay. You’ll have fun upgrading Cole’s various abilities, which change depending on which karmic path you take. Electricity is not hard to find in a city, but you’d be surprised by how quickly you use up energy, and it adds a realistic feel to the atmosphere. There are also abilities that can only be unlocked if you choose one path or the other. Cole’s physical appearance also slightly changes as you progress though the game, as well as the colour of his powers. As a hero, Cole gets an all around cleaner look, and the colours of this clothes are much more vibrant. As a villain, Cole’s clothes become dirtier, his skin goes pale, and he starts to get dark marks on his head. It makes the character feel more real.
The variety of enemies and weapons that you encounter keep you on your toes, as you have to be ready for any number of different attacks, and how to combat them. You may come across a common enemy with a rifle or an RPG, or the much more difficult Conduits, which pack a lot more punch. The game’s three boss battles are very entertaining and fun. They are all very different, and make the experience difficult, yet exciting. Frame rate drops rarely occur, and remedy themselves within seconds. There are even a few missions where it seems like the bad guys just won’t stop being thrown at you, and while difficult, these missions are insanely fun, and let you really let loose all of your most powerful attacks.
Travelling around a huge three island city could have been boring, and time consuming, but Sucker Punch truly mastered this aspect of the game. Cole is an absolute master of parkour, and can literally climb ninety-nine percent of the buildings and surfaces you come across. Almost all buildings are connected with electrical wires which allow for easy traversal above ground. After you unlock the Induction Grind, which lets you slide along these wires and train tracks at high speeds, you feel like you can get anywhere in moments, especially after you unlock the Static Thrusters, which allow you to glide in midair. There is never a dull moment when you are climbing buildings, or grinding to your next mission.
The inhabitants of Empire City also add to the realistic feeling of the game. When using your powers for good, pedestrians will run up to Cole to ask for assistance, and will throw rocks at anyone hostile towards him. As a villain, the people will attack you instead. You also find injured pedestrians on the ground all over the place, and can use your powers to heal them. When you hear the people’s cries of how they haven’t seen their family for weeks, you really start to feel bad for them, and can’t Leo but go and help them. When evil, you can drain the energy out of injured men and women, or downed enemies to fill up your enery meter, earning evil karma.
In the end, no matter how much I describe to you, the only way to really understand just how amazing this game feels, is to play it. Like I said, the only word to describe the gameplay is “fun”.
The visuals of inFAMOUS are fairly well done. The city has a dark, gloomy look to it which really makes it feel like a city that has gone through hell. The game doesn’t look amazing, and definitely is not that realistic, but I’m willing to cut Sucker Punch some slack because it was their first game based in the real world. Let me be clear though, the game looks great, it’s just not the prettiest game of 2009.
Many points in the game have comicbook style cutscenes, which look truly incredible. It’s literally like watching a graphic novel brought to life, and is a brilliant way of storytelling.
The only complaint that I really have about the game’s graphics is that they didn’t use motion capture for any of the in-game cutscenes. Watching Cole and Zeke standing rigid while their jaws flap away is a bit disconcerting, and most of the body movements look quite mechanical. Gameplay looks smooth and real, but the in-game cutscenes leave something to be desired.
inFAMOUS is a masterpiece of a game. There is truly no experience quite like it. Sucker Punch created a perfect beginning to their franchise which will keep it’s fans interested for generations of gaming to come.
inFAMOUS 2 Review – Coming Soon
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