Returning from their long time absence, Sucker Punch Production finishes up their first next-gen project, the electrifying inFAMOUS... Diving straight into the sandbox action genre, inFAMOUS is nothing short of spectacular, an instant must for all Playstation 3 owners. Step into the insulated shoes of Cole McGrath as he shocking discovers his path in life is larger than he ever expected.
'inFAMOUS' sucker punches the current line-up of open-world action games with an innovative twist on the super-hero market. Exclusively on the Playstation 3, Sony has another winner on their hands that could possible turn into another strong franchise for the Playstation 3. Kick starting straight into the action 'inFAMOUS' doesn't hesitate by throwing the player directly into the mouth of madness. In a city that has been partially destroyed, a government with a hidden agenda, and secret organizations seeking great power, all fingers point towards Cole McGrath, the hero, the everyday man turned into an electrical super-power. 'inFAMOUS' unique twist on a super-hero story is interesting, fresh and must have for PS3 owners looking for something new.
I hope Cole has good insurance!
The storyline behind 'Sucker Punch Productions' super-hero tale starts with a bang... literarily. The opening sequence featuring a massive explosion that rips apart a major section of the fictional, Empire City. Standing unharmed in the center of the blast is Cole McGrath, a messenger whose explosive parcel grants him the power to control electricity. As the government quarantines the section of the city that has been distrusted, Cole is marked as a terrorist by the inhabitants of the city as he struggles to understand the nature of his situation. Keeping the plot line as a close to reality as possible, 'inFAMOUS' is grounded with a morality choices throughout the game where you have to choose between becoming the saviour of the people, or a malicious villain who represents everything man has come to fear.
For an original character inFAMOUS does an excellent job pulling from the gaming and comic book world to create an interesting story that shares both sensibilities. Better yet, Cole still feels human even though has gained the ability to control electricity. Unlike, Wolverine, or a character like Super-Man, Cole treads on the side of someone like Spider-Man. I really liked how Sucker Punch stuck with one power, and didn't make Cole to strong. Cole can be defeated, and keeping the peace, in Empire City isn't as easy as it sounds.
Putting the FAMOUS in, inFAMOUS
Unlike other sandbox titles, inFAMOUS feels like its storyline is always impacting the world. This connection immediately pulls the player in once you see how the dynamics work with the inhabitants of Empire City. The choices you make won't divert the main storyline, but they will adjust how people perceive your character. The stress of morality, good or evil choices are always dangling over your head and come up in almost all the missing within the game. Even the minor side-missions can test your resolve. Staying in the Neutral zone isn’t an option in inFAMOUS so you’ll have to make a few hard choices along the way.
Evil choices are often the quick route to success, while being good involves a little more struggle. Choosing the good path, the humanitarian puts Cole in the shoes of the Empire City's emancipator. Starting from the perspective of the Terrorist, Cole will earn the trust of the city and be praised as he travels the streets. These citizens will also plaster posters of him around town, and ask for help as he carries on for the greater good. On the Evil side of this, the city will turn on Cole, and take up physical actions by throwing rocks while you scale a building, or even putting up the hambones for a fight. Being Evil definitely makes Cole’s time in Empire a little more annoying, however the upside to this is that Cole can simply fry everyone who dares question your power. inFAMOUS isn't the first game to flirt with this mechanic, and it definitely won't be the last. However even though other games change with the player, Empire City seems to adjust with a natural ease that is rarely perfected.
Speaking of powers, they take on a slightly different path depending on the Karma level. With Good Karma Cole’s powers will be tilted towards doing more damage and not causing so much, which is the opposite of Evil which is tends to be a little more powerful and destructive. Neither side has a major advantage over each other, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about missing out on what the other side has. Best thing is that you can fire up two games, or replay inFAMOUS as the evil twin, or a goodie-two shoes.
Waldo's Holding a Blue Shard
Thanks to 'Crackdown’s Orbs collection games have been going crazy with collecting little objects. In, inFAMOUS the orbs are 'Blast Shards'. More then an simple object these shards help improve Cole’s battery power... basically the amount of electricity you can hold. Unlike Crackdown, Cole can pinpoint their location with the click of the thumbstick which illuminates their position on the mini-map. Locating the general location of the shards is is one thing, finding them hacked into the random structure is another challenge altogether. To help you along the way is a light blue aurora that illuminates from the shard making it more easier to spot in the wreckage of Empire City structures. If you’re the collector type be ready for a hefty run because inFAMOUS boast a whopping 350 “Blast Shards”... yea, 350, better get a early start! Other than the shards there are also Dead Drops that are signals that can be found in a similar way. Instead of blue shards, they are located in selected satellite dishes scattered around the city. Theses are a little harder to find, and give you a deeper inside into the lore behind inFAMOUS.
Tourism isn't What it used to Be
Empire city can afford to space out 350 shards because it is rather large. Split up into three sections you’ll feel like you’re in a rundown version of Spider-Man’s NYC. Visually Empire City is bleak and uninspiring compared to some other the other open-world environments that we have seen. More variety, a little bit of colour and some stand out landmarks would have been nice because Empire City can feel awful closterfobic. From one section to the town to the next it will feel like you’ve been going in circles. This is one of inFAMOUS firsts negative points, however a little bit of repeated architecture isn't enough to deter you from having fun in Empire.
Slip and Slide, Groove and Grind
The controls in inFAMOUS are handled with a perfect blend of looseness and precision. Following the footsteps of 'Assassins Creed', inFAMOUS has its own latch on mechanic that allows Cole to scale buildings with ease. Assassin's might have started the auto-climb trend, but inFAMOUS takes it to a new level. Sucker Punch’s work with animations and fluidity is startling and nothing short of amazing. Along with the ability to climb and use his powers off any surface, Cole can grind on electrical wires, glide across spaces that makes traversing the visually bland empire city a blast.
The fluid movement mechanics are matched with intuitive offensive controls that unleash Cole’s powers with the touch of a button. Holding L1 brings up Coles arm the is the conduit for his lighting powers with the face button representing the different flavours. As seamless as leaping off a building a grinding on a telephone wire, Cole gets some shockingly awesome results. Gaining experience points through you actions in the game will allow you upgrade Cole making him a more dangerous force. The common adjustments are present along with karma upgrades to your powers. Cole doesn’t have any big surprises up his sleeve, but you'll get by with the use of Cole's arc lightning, sticky grenades and pulse cannon shots.
One Hundred Man Army
Even with Cole unnatural ability to control electricity, inFAMOUS can be very challenging. The enemies are as generic as they come. However they have the numbers. From casually investigating the city to all out wars, the enemy always wins the numbers game, and adding to this is the fact that the enemies occupy both the ground and the rooftops. inFAMOUS has a few big monster fights that you will need sharp wits, but for the most of the time you will be frying hooded baddies by the dozens. Each group, there are three in total, have their own levels of special units, foot soldiers, and heavily armoured units. None of which pose a real treat to Cole, unless they are in a group. When dissecting each group they actually seem like re-skinned copies of each other, minus a few unique units. The artificial Intel isn’t ground breaking, but they know how to avoid and give chase at the right times. It would have been a little more interesting to have more diversity in the evil forces in empire city. Although the fast action, a numbers game, keep you thinking about a quick escape, or what to do next, rather than new units, or the lack of variety in your opponents.
Fade to Black
Given the odds it’s likely that you’ll have the screen fade to black a number of times during your adventure. Save points are automatically generated, so you won’t have to worry about restarting a mission. Sucker punch did a great job a pacing of the levels, the overall difficulty of the game and how the missions follow each other. You can tell a lot of time has gone into balancing and crafting the flow of the game to keep the momentum running while giving the player the freedom to explore. The only negative point towards the mission structure is that you’ll be doing the same activities over. Jumping down into the sewers to restore power to a grid section of the city is fun, but after the fourth and fifth time it can become a little tiresome. A few of these are expected while using the open-world formula. All in all, inFAMOUS is creative enough to have a good balance between strong, stand-out missions, and the old tiresome rinse and repeated jobs.
Sparkling Good Looks
Graphically inFAMOUS looks spectacular. This is how Playstation exclsuive titles should look. inFAMOUS is a vibrant standout title with an exceptional lighting engine that really pops when put against a dark background. In the light of day, inFAMOUS is still impressive; it’s just not as noticeable. Along side the amazing lighting effects are top-notch animations that turn Cole into a fluid moving Spider-Man. The only dip in quality comes only when you get up-close, then you see the graphics start to loose a touch of their quality.
Moving away from the realistic look of the in-game action is the alternative look to the cut-scenes that pop up between selected missions. The quick bursts of storyline in inFAMOUS are told in the same style as an animated graphic novel. The art style in the illustrations is over-blown with a direct sense of style and purpose. I found myself more drawn to the characters represented in the graphic art style more then the in-game engine. It is too bad the in-game graphics didn’t borrow more attitudes from the illustrations. If inFAMOUS can get another run, I hope it can adapt a more "comic-book" aesthetic.
Crossing over to the sound, inFAMOUS is even more riveting. Immersing the gamer into Empire City is DJ/Electronica musician, Amon Tobin who puts his hypnotic beats behind inFAMOUS with the same sensibilities as when he tackled the 'Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory' soundtrack. Along with Tobin is composers James Dooley and Mel Wesson add their own personal touch that helps decertify the audio in inFAMOUS. The music's moody overtones build on the atmosphere of the dammed Empire City with the right tones bringing up the suspenseful moments.
Beside the music, which is the highlight of inFAMOUS, is excellent production gone into the sound effects. The electricity pulse is nailed right along side the clanging jingle as Cole runs through the city. A few moments might be a little overdone like the amount of reverb used in the sewers, however as a whole the music and sound effects are dynamite. While I nitpicking, I wasn’t too fond on Jason Cottle version of Cole because it seems like he wanted to be too much like Christian Bale's Batman tone, or Zeke’s hacked up southerner accent. These characters could have been voiced with a little more originality. I guess having a deep gritty voice makes you a tough guy.... strange no one told Tyson!
inFAMOUS takes everything you’ve come to expect from a well done super-hero tale and presents it in the shell of a video-game. inFAMOUS will have you enthralled in its world as you scale up and down the ruins of Empire City. Even after you’re finished the main quest which runs upwards to 30hrs will keep you entertained with its Blast Shards and side missions. For those who don’t play multiple games at once, you’ll likely be interested on how the other side of the karma plays out. inFAMOUS is one game which gamer’s wont mind running over one more time. Sure, inFAMOUS has a few flaws, but it never hurts the games performance. inFAMOUS truly stands out as one of the most electrifying titles so far this year. If you own a ps3, you need to check out Sucker Punch’s next-gen debut in inFAMOUS.