- Story: 3.5/5
- Game Play: 4/5
- Graphics/Design 3.5/5
- Extras: 2/5 (play in evil or good mode, but no online elements)
One of the wonderful things about the first season of the US TV series HEROES was watching the characters grow as they discover their powers. The audience is in the backseat, watching while the characters learn more about themselves along the way, and realize there are others in the world who also possess equally marvelous abilities.
The first Spiderman movie also captured this sense of youthful awakening, as the young Peter Parker learns to scale walls and swing between buildings.
The is the one of the key motivators of playing INFAMOUS on the PLAYSTATION 3, from game makers Sucker Punch. As the player, excited by the thrill of acquiring bigger and better skills, you are driven to gain more experience and activate special powers that are waiting to be unleashed.
INFAMOUS is a great super hero story. As the bicycle courier Cole you are responsible for having delivered a package that takes out a whole city, plunging its inhabitants into illness and despair. Driven by a kind of guilt, you’re left to explore what’s left of Empire City and its people. But the explosion that devastates so much of the urban environment also triggers the powers that you now have at your disposal.
The government responds with its own form of intervention to save people from disease and the thugs that have taken over the city. There are competing factions to work around, including allies and enemies, such as your friend Zeke and the head of a secret society who is responsible for the explosion. Meanwhile, you gain in experience, power, and an understanding of who was behind the massive blast. Among this chaos, your own values are constantly challenged by dilemmas pushing you to do evil or good.
INFAMOUS has been well received by the PLAYSTATION 3 community. Achieving consistently high rankings for a game in 2009; story and characterizations, game play and environment offer a lot of entertaining elements to explore.
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Key missions push the story along, exposing you to greater challenges while giving you more insight into the explosion. You begin on a mission to restore power to various sections of the city and to rid bad guys from each sector. Running as tangents to the main story are side missions for both good and evil players. These add a lot of variety and a bit of humor to the game. Like all the actions you take, many also impact on Cole’s Karma Rank. Yet an excessive way of calculating the number of side missions required to gain new powers could be more easily tallied, instead of having to group similar (and what seems repetitive) tasks to create one complete mission.
350 energy fragments called Blast Shards left over from the explosion are wedged all over the city. These give Cole more “battery power” for his abilities. As you discover more shards you get to leverage more energy to fight or defend with. Luckily as the city gets back on the grid, Cole has more places to recharge, simply by extracting the power from anything electrical, including street lights, cars, air conditioning units, train lines, and more.
Meanwhile, recorded messages called Dead Drops are located around the city’s three islands. They are situated in some fairly obscure locations, and you either need your Radar Pulse to find them or have to listen carefully for the audio signature as you approach them. Each offers a little more insight into the mystery of the explosion and Cole’s own powers.
Main player complaints about the game relate to the quality of the graphics, which are adequate, but offer nothing to “wow” about. Certainly, the grey and often gloomy cityscape offers nothing against the beauty of the world depicted in Unchartered II, as a comparison. Yes, the city has just suffered a huge atomic explosion, but the design aesthetic is more gloomy than apocalyptic chic. Having completed the game as a “Hero” the sun comes out as if the brightness and contrast levels have been pushed up a notch.
Some bugs make it difficult to interact with certain environments. A few objects that seem to allow climbing don’t, and some solid surfaces allow Cole to fall or pass through. Accuracy with distances between objects, and consistency in judging them, can provide a few hassles too. At times the baddies are very accurate in shooting at you, while you seem a bit out of reach to get them back. Some reviewers have commented on the way Cole “clings” to buildings and how this gets in the way of moving up and down the sides of buildings. It is a bit clumsy at times, it just takes a bit to get used to. All these are relatively minor issues for a game that keeps the focus on using an array of interesting powers to get you through the adventure.
The comic-like sequences linking key story plot points, at times appear to labor forward with stilted dialog that could do with an edit. Some lines could have been reviewed for their annoyance factor. For women, the gender roles of the main characters might seem to have been written by a 13-year-old male (or is this the only target market?). Bad-ass sex-crazed women, a nagging girlfriend nurse that needs to be rescued, not to mention that you can only play a male super hero, is a bit of a cliché.
The main wow factor of the game is in exercising powers like flying, shooting electricity, pushing, or shielding from gun fire. And like the characters in Heroes, and for the young Peter Parker, half the story is in exploring new super powers. INFAMOUS lets you play the hero (and villain) as the story unwinds. What kind of hero you become is mainly up to you.
Check out the official INFAMOUS site for videos, wallpapers and other goodies.