Open world games have come a long way since the Grand Theft Auto series first introduced the idea in a big way. The notion that there is a game without levels, without a straightforward, linear premise was unusual. To some extent, the world of Zelda sort of pioneered the concept, but then there were those dungeons to visit. Spider-Man tried to duplicate it, but with a superhero spin to it.
Indeed, it can be argued that many games have tried to cash in on the notion of an open world game, but very few have been successful. Now we have inFamous.
Let's begin by looking at the story. You play courier named Cole MacGrath, who wakes up just after a catastrophic explosion that decimated the city...and he was the one holding the bomb. He wakes up with the power to control electricity. With that, he ducks various other guys with super-powers, works to deal with the government conspiracy, and dealing with the mysterious organization known as the First Sons. The story is impressive, actually. Cole is one of those fun characters who has a unique personality. Give him amazing super powers, the ability to shoot lightning and zap people to death, and he's most impressed by the ability that lets him glide along. He's a unique persona that really makes the long play interesting. He's not the only one, though. The villains are each very curious and psychotic in their own individual ways. Zeke is an especially entertaining sidekick. The storyline uses each character well, with Cole finding himself the center of a titanic power struggle which only seems to grow as time goes along.
Gameplay follows a tried and true method for controlling Cole. One of the complications is that everything on the controller does something. For those of you who hate the Sixaxis (and I can't blame you), don't worry: it's only used for one thing of little importance and it is actually done well. No, my worry was that I actually forgot some powers existed at times. It didn't help that I got the bonus power from the GameStop pre-order and thus had one more thing to fiddle around with. Cole has two modes to deal with: running around mode and shooting stuff mode. The buttons change depending on what you're doing. After about half an hour of play, I had a good feel for the basics of running, gliding, shooting and dodging well in hand. The free running system bears mention as well. Cole is quite the acrobat. He can climb buildings, run on wires (when he's not just using the electricity to grind on them), glide on static thrusters, and hang from ledges and shoot lightning. Despite this, it never feels clunky or repetitive. Scaling buildings also offers the advantage of height and ready cover.
The game itself follows a simple routine of main quests and side quests. The main quests are varied, but the most repeated quest is going into the sewer to connect the power, thus giving you a chance to recharge from the electrical outlets around the city, as well as granting a new power. Otherwise, you're going to be doing everything from acting as a third rail and turret for a train to taking down others who have inherited super-powers from the explosion. A lot of the game is going to focus on combat, even in those non-combat missions. Long time game reviewer Yahtzee once commented on how many games feature grunts who seem to have telescopic x-ray vision and the ability to shoot you when you weren't even aware of their existence. inFamous suffers from this malady. Baddies will be sniping you with everything they have: rockets, machine gun turrets, AK-47s: you name it, they shoot you with it. They'll shoot you from forever away, too. Added to a fairly intelligent AI, and you will find yourself frustrated a lot. However, I do want to put in a plug for the baddies called Conduits. These are like Cole in that they also got powers from the explosion, but to a lesser degree. These are some of the more unique baddies that I've come across. You have some that teleport around and hit you with eerily familiar lightning powers and others that can make giant suits of armor out of junk. These are really quite awesome to behold and have taken the place in my personal baddie hall-of-fame.
Cole is, of course, not defenseless. The controller scheme isn't full for no reason. Cole can use the default shock at first, and quickly gains access to electrical grenades, a force push-esque wave, some missiles, and a wonderful lightning storm ability late game. It's a lot to stay occupied with. Powers are generally upgradable and feature a nice spread of features.
Powers are very closely tied with the morality system of the game, called Karma. A few major events through the game are the biggest determiner of what happens, and for the most part, they are rather obvious. However, it's also important to note that doing things like harming civilians is also a bad thing. So it's all well and good to finish off the bad guys, but using grenades in a crowd will net you some negative karma. While there is no reason not to remain neutral, the game encourages you to continue toward one path. Your powers change in upgrade depending on whether you are heroic or infamous. Good powers offer some odd ball tactics like instantly restraining enemies or floating them in the air. Evil powers can be summed up in their rather terrifying area of effect. The basic shock upgrade, for instance, grants you the ability to recharge by shooting foes while the evil power electrifies enemies, damaging foes around them. The higher you want to do these upgrades, the more heroic or villainous you have to be.
The game as a whole really needs to be taken into account. The world is sprawling and very open ended. Cole is the center of it, and you really feel super powered toward the end. The stunts adding extra experience encourages experimentation. Just for kicks, I would string together different combos of powers and melee attacks, and I was pleased to note that it stays fluid. I completed the game, but I still had to get dozens of blast shards to increase my battery cores and dead drops for more background information. There is a lot of exploration yet to be done and I still needed to liberate some of the city, but I felt satisfied by the end. By the time I was done, I was kicking ass and taking names, exploring the city and having fun just grinding along the train tracks, finding new routs along the high wires, and causing minor havoc.
This game rates among my top for the PS3. Amazing game and a good premise. If you have a PS3, go out and get it.
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