What happens when you’re gifted extraordinary powers? Will you go down the path of righteousness or choose the path of evil? These are the questions you’re confronted with when playing Sucker Punch Production’s first title for the PS3, inFAMOUS. Set in Empire City, you play as Cole McGrath a bike messenger who’s sent to deliver a package, which unbeknown to him leads to a cataclysmic explosion that destroys part of his hometown. With the city under quarantine, lawlessness prevails. Common criminals and gangs have become superhuman and now rule the city. After two weeks in a coma Cole awakens to find that he’s been infused with electricity-based powers. What he does with his powers will dictate the direction of the game.
The Karma system hugely affects the entire experience, through a series of scripted events, you can choose whether Cole goes down the Good or Bad path. You’ll be forced to decide whether to protect a food shipment and let the general populace benefit from it or to scare them away and horde the food for yourself. Should you prevent a mob from beating someone or allow them to hang the man. The decisions you make will factor into your characters powers. Your actions are taken into account, so it’s possible to finish a mission with bad karma, despite being a good guy. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, since other developers have explore the arena before, it certainly adds an interesting twist to the game.
You start the game with a few basic powers with the ability to shoot electric bolts from your hands and your primarily weapon. As you progress through the game you can unlock new powers and upgrade each power with experience points, which are gathered from completing various missions and through combat. By game’s end, you’ll be grinding on telephone wires and train tracks, flying for short distances cutting down on your travel time within the large city.
Speaking of a large city, inFAMOUS is a sandbox style game and a rather large one at that. There are three sections to the city, the Neon District, Warren and the Historic District. Moving between the three can take some time if done on the ground, but thankfully you can use your powers to make the trip a little shorter. As with any sandbox game, inFamous presents the standard offering of main and secondary missions to undertake. Unfortunately the secondary missions are very repetitive and become somewhat boring. You can only rid so many building of security cameras, escort so many prisoners or chase down so many couriers. Sadly, many of the main missions aren’t much better. Heading into the sewers to restore power back to the city can only keep you entertained for so long, having to do it numerous times gets boring. For all the complaining about Assassin’s Creed’s repetitive missions you’d think publishers would have learned, unfortunately Sucker Punch didn’t. While they offered a few varying missions, especially towards the end, you’ll find the repetitiveness becomes tiresome.
While you might think that the secondary missions may be unnecessary it should be noted that by completing them you take back parts of the city and drive out the enemy from within the district. Plus you can earn the valuable experience points which allow you to boost your powers. And you’ll need them boosted because the further you get into the story the more difficult the enemies become. As the story progresses you’re drawn deeper into the mystery of why the bomb exploded, who’s behind it and who stands to profit from it. It’s a story that kept me pretty entertained for the most part. And the approach Sucker Punch took to it was novel, major plot points occur during comic book-style cut scenes with a narration from Cole.
Going back to the Assassin’s Creed quip earlier, one thing you’ll notice immediately is how Cole moves along the buildings. The way he climbs, jumps and runs looks like it was taken directly out of Assassin’s Creed. Although one of his powers later in the game allows him to glide, it’s still too similar. You’ll never find difficulty in climbing the buildings or jumping from point to point, instead your frustration will lie with the games AI. The enemies have ungodly accuracy, you’ll have five simultaneous headshots from five guys on five different buildings a half a mile away. And the worst part is you can only reach one of the enemies with your powers. There were times I was on a building roof and somehow gunfire was reaching me from the streets below. Never mind the fact that I couldn’t see the enemies from the angle I was at, they were able to lock on to me easily.
The boss battles, of which there were only three, were uninspired and tedious. All you had to do was dodge their attacks and rapid fire all of your powers. Recharge and repeat. There was nothing satisfying about beating a boss. They felt like a more difficult foot soldier instead of a boss. They didn’t present a real challenge.
Visually, inFAMOUS is a good looking game with a large playground to explore. Unfortunately there are a number of noticeable flaws, from character detail on some of the enemies to sloppy textures. Objects pop into view on an alarmingly regular basis and there’s a discernible pop of textures. Far too often you’ll be running down the street and have objects pop into view. There are some framerate hiccups occasionally, but they’re not too common and never affected the gameplay. For the size of the game, the city looks good but there are a few minor issues.
Overall, while I may be harsh on the game it’s still an enjoyable experience. The premise and powers are interesting and fresh, I just wish they put more time into planning the missions and cut down on the repetitiveness. For PS3 owners this is a fun game that’s at least worth a rental, if not a purchase. While it’s not a must have system seller, it’s a fine addition to your gaming catalog.