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inFamous Review

June 6, 2009


If you told the average Playstation 2 platforming fan a few years back that the developer of the Sly Cooper series, Sucker Punch, would create a super hero open world game that left behind the kid friendly cartoony characters, they would probably laugh in your face.  Well that is exactly what Sucker Punch did.  Following in the foot steps of Insomniac & Naughty Dog, they chose to make their first Playstation 3 game more realistic.  So how goes their first attempt rack up with the Resistance & Uncharted series?

Pretty damn well I must say.  inFamous (or inFAMOUS) starts off with a massive eletrical explosion that destroy a mighty hefty chunk of Empire City.  After this blast, Cole McGraph wakes up in the middle of giant crater, badly injured.  From here you are given limited control over Cole, acting as the games tutorial into the platforming aspect of the game.  After this you wake up a couple of days later with, you guessed it, Electric Super Powers!!  From here the game introduces the karma system, a system that weighs in the moral choices of the players.  mostly this is affected by “Karma Moments” that have large, medium and smaller versions.

The larger karma moments arrive key parts of the story, resulting in a good or “evil” repercussion.  I put evil in quotes because none of the choices are necessarily evil, more in the line with selfish or other bad morals (more into that later).  Medium moments are played out in the game’s many side missions, such as the Dark Water missions that will play out pretty early in the game.  Finally the small moments are comprised off actions taken against the citizens of Empire City, whether you heal them or fry them to death.

What I especially enjoyed about the karma system is how not one sided it was.  The moral choices are clearly explained between the good and “evil” choices, but as I said, there are no really evil choices.  For example the very first Karma moment in the game is to let a giant group of people take food that was air dropped into the city, or attack just one and keep the food for you and your friends.  Many of the other moments will play out in this manner, with the “evil” choice being a morally wrong decision but not a necessarily bad one.  The simplest way to put this is, your choosing to be more like Spiderman (good) or more like the Punisher (bad).  They are both good heroes, just on separate sides of the morality ladder.  Course this sharply shifts in the game epilogue esque cutscene.

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Your karma is tracked by a 6 level guard that goes from inFamous (The highest form of a baddy) to Heroic (Self explanatory).  This guarge directly affects gameplay as depending on your current rank, you have access to certain moves and blocked access to others.  The powers & the story are both affected by the Karma system, and I’ve got to say the story is pretty good.  Major plot points are told in a graphic novel type style which completely suites the story as it is meant to be a super hero one.  These cutscenes are fabulously well done and are just great.  The story is also told within the in game engine during missions & while collecting Dead Drops (Audio recordings of a man named John).  While the story isn’t perfect, the duality of the karma system creates an interesting scenario on just how different the two sides can be, and just how your morality affects the story.

Your morality also affects the city!  Empire City & its citizens will gradually change as your progress on one side of the karma latter or the other.  Play as a heroic hero and the city gets cleaner, the skies clearer and the people will cheer & help you out.  Become a bad hero, the sky turns red, the city looks worse than it did before and the people hate you.

Now I think i’ve spent enough time on the story so lets get to the gameplay!  The game feels like an open world Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  Like Nathan in said game, Cole is very acrobatic with supreme animation detail.  Climbing up buildings, racing ac cross town & riding trains is a real joy and plays flawlessly.  Sucker Punch took a very good direction with how the super powers work and evolve.  The various powers & how they are used are all grounded in how you’d think electricity would work.  His electricity reacts to the metals & people around it and outside of your inability to be damaged from a fall, all seem logical which only immerses you in the world more.

Earlier I said the karma system allows or denies access to abilities based on the karma rank.  The powers are divided into three upgradeable forms, 3 for the good guys, 3 for the not so good.  Then it is split more into the 3 ranks on each side.  For example In order to received the second upgrade on the evil side, you need to reach Outlaw Rank (Goes from Thug to Outlaw to inFamous).  This allows the powers to stay within reason of the story and how that progresses (don’t want a super powered hero right from the start).



The powers also behave differently depending on your karma, good guys have more precision with their attacks and also get abilities like the default lightning bolt healing your energy reserves & even health, while the bad guys get more splash damage.  The combat system blends seamlessly with the combat and you can be fighting on the ground, then climb a building to use a bomb from up above and then drop down with a splash of thunder to eliminate the rest.

The game just plays fantastically and the audio & visuals compliment that.  The voice acting and sound effects are top notch with the visuals looking great as well.  However there are more than a few glitches that appear from time to time, nothing that will crash the game, just certain spots of the city causes animation glitches and there can be pop ins from a distance, however it doesn’t detract from the game at all, and is actually pretty amusing.  Should they be in there? No.  Are they a problem? Not at all

It should be obvious by now that I am in love with inFamous.  While not a masterpiece like Metal Gear Solid 4, it is one of the best games I’ve played this generation, why?  Simply put it weaves an engrossing & entertaining story with great combat, platforming and open world gameplay.  inFamous is just a blast to play and anyone who wants to have fun should pick this up.  To put this into perspective, I am NOT a fan of open world games, but I AM a fan of inFamous and it might have sold me on the genre.



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