Have you ever had a game just lying around that you’ve just never picked up and played? Just sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust until you either decide to give it a spin, or trade in hoping to get a couple of bucks off a game you were really looking forward to? Me too.
A few weeks ago I was just coming off of playing through Assassins Creed 3, and was looking for something new to play. Not necessarily a retro title, but something I could just sink into and enjoy for awhile. I went through my collection, thinking to myself do I pick up where I left off in Final Fantasy 13 a year ago? Should I hop back into Battlefield 3 multiplayer (Which I think holds the record for FPS that’s kept my attention the longest), or do I attempt to work up to attempt to play ICO again(which I really couldn’t get into) . They were all decent options, but none of them really excited me.
Then I remembered that when we were given our PS3, we received a controller bundle with InFAMOUS, a game about a bike courier turned electrically charged superhero. I hadn’t read much about it, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I loaded it up, started a new game, and was instantly blown away.
InFAMOUS is a free roaming action adventure game that takes place in a city affected by a mysterious and devastating explosion. Cut off from the rest of the world, the survivors are left to fend for themselves against the gangs that have taken control of Empire City. Enter Cole MacGrath, a bike courier at the centre of the explosion who managed to not only survive the blast, but gained the power to wield electricity. InFAMOUS is a comic book style origin story, with a Machiavellian twist. You make the choice as to whether it is better to be feared than loved since you cannot be both.
The game progresses by completing a series of missions across 3 islands that make up Empire City. Each area has its own unique feel, challenges, and enemies to overcome. The more you progress, the more abilities you unlock to use against your foes such as electric sticky grenades (a personal favourite) or missiles made of pure energy. As well, your powers will be augmented based on your choices. Should you choose to play as a villain, your lightning will turn a menacing shade of red, where as if you want to play hero, your abilities give off a stoic blue pulse. The side missions within the game also give you lots of extra opportunity to build your Karma in both directions, and wrest control of the city from the gangs to either save or destroy. There’s also blast shards to collect to gain extra energy for attacks (350 of them scattered across the city) and ‘dead drops’ found on satellite dishes to help flesh out the backstory. The game feels full, without feeling crammed with too much.
The Karmic system also gives the game some decent replayability. Choosing one path may not necessarily lead you down the same road as another, and by completing “Good” side missions, you lock out other, “Evil” ones. This means that taking a spin through a second time is just as enjoyable, since your powers will also be different.
The voice acting in InFAMOUS was superb. The main characters Cole and Zeke were both excellently played by Jason Cottle and Caleb Moody respectively. Coles low growl can be at times both menancing or encouraging, and has a neutral yet anti-hero feel to it. You get the impression that Cole doesn’t have a clean history, and depending on your choices is either trying to right his wrongs, or revel in his new power. Zeke is a perfect sidekick to this, providing the majority of the humour, and is a plucky upbeat guy with a glass half full kind of demeanor.
Electricity was an interesting choice as a power. It ties in with the urban feel of the game, as well as provides a great system for health regeneration. Cole is also limited in how many attacks he can make before he needs to plug in for more juice. Using your lightning to glide, slide and electrify over obstacles makes the game lots of fun as you sail around the cities currents. Abilities like electric sticky grenades were just fun to watch as enemies ran around before the explosion tossed them like rag dolls. Using power plants as superconductors to build Coles powers was an excellent decision as well, as it provides a logical place for him to be harnessing the power needed for more powerful skills. Overall, electricity was a nice departure from the standard super strength, flying, telekinesis, that seems to be the standard.
The few issues that I had with the game were mainly physics based. Sometimes with climbing (especially ladders) the pathing seemed to force you to either the left or the right of objects instead of exactly where you wanted to go. Also climbing poles presented a similar issue, as maneuvering them sometimes lead to a fall and a restart on your climb. Over time this became pretty frustrating, especially when racing against the clock to complete missions that were timed, or based on distance from target. Secondly, the game can be short if you decide to just beeline towards the end instead of completing side quests along the way. There’s nothing to really force you to side quest, but some pretty cool powers are locked up until you do. While this isn’t really a complaint, its more a compliment that I wished that I could be immersed in the game for much longer. Guess I’ll have to wait for InFAMOUS: Second Son.
In the end I loved this game. I’m a big fan of both comic book origin stories, as well as open world exploration games mixed with parkour style obstacle scaling. InFAMOUS is fun, engaging, and full of enough extras to warrant a second playthrough, which is rare for many games to boast these days especially in their single player campaigns. Sucker Punch Studios did an excellent job putting this title together, and its sequel only expands on the fun. If you’re looking to check it out, you can buy it on PSN for $30 (or around 20 second hand in any EB Games or Gamestop locations) and I can guarantee you’ll get more than your money’s worth.
Have a game you think I should play? Disagree with something I’ve said? Throw it in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org