First Impressions: Infamous
[May contain spoilers]
As uninterested in the game as I was, I still had to give it a try since a friend let me download the inFamous demo from him. Getting to play a demo a few weeks before the greater public is always a bonus. So I did.
Upon first entering the game, I was greeted with a nice cutscene. The opening scene starts off from the main character, Cole’s, perspective. He’s sitting on a bench facing his bike, taking a brake from delivering messages when suddenly a few explosions sound in the distance and a large blue explosion of electricity, like an EMP, starts relentlessly tearing its way though the large industrial city. Civilians scream and scramble around as everything metallic or electronic explodes. It then switched to the view from a helicopter above the commotion. The scene is ended when an airborne bus takes out the helicopter. Following that is another cutscene, not rendered in the game’s engine. It was a series of moving images which had a gritty, yet graphic novel style to them. Narrating it was Cole as he described what was happening and how he came about having his electrical supernatural power. In a few moments you are Cole, standing atop a building, ready for action.
The first mission asks you to move a train carrying hostages being held captive by the Reapers, the gang which took over the city after the disaster. One of the first things I noticed was how visually stunning the city is. The graphical style is very similar to GTA4, just a bit darker, enhancing the despondency the creators were going for. I immediately hopped across to the next building over, but before I could jump down to the track I was already being shot at by the Reapers standing there. A few jolts of lighting from my hands took care of the pests. To move the train required some electricity. Who would’ve guessed it? Basically the rest plays out like this – You have to rescue the hostages on the train by moving it to a safe point somewhere down the line. In order to get there, you have to power the train by standing on it, but it’s blocked by a pile of smaller vehicles, like cars. Once you move the cars and hop back on, the train starts moving again. That is, until you reach a disengaged feeder box under the track which you have to power up. After doing that a couple times, repeat.
There are some other playable parts of the plot, but I avoided those in favor of introducing myself to the nice people of Empire City. By “introducing myself",” I meant blowing up cars with my static bombs, pinning people down with electricity and executing them, shocking ponds full of people who like to walk around in them, and absorbing the life of people. I also had a bit of fun playing god by zapping innocent victims to kill them and then bringing them back to life with another shock, like a defibrillator. With all the power at hand, this game really feels a lot like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Movement in the game is extremely fluid and requires very little thought to climb and jump around the streets and buildings. When you want to jump to a window, the game does a great job of predicting if you were trying to jump to that window or the ledge just beneath it. While climbing sideways or standing upright, you can always do exactly what you want. Cole’s body will find a way to contort to allow you throw that static bomb while climbing on the underside of a beam. Did I mention you can fly? All you have to do is jump from something and hold a button and away you go!
After creatively killing about ten-gazillion people,I noticed the gauge in the upper left portion of the screen had moved to the bottom, signifying that I had lost my “Hero” status, and became “infamous.” With the title, came an even darker view and red lighting flowing through Cole’s body. The powers were also a bit different. For example, the grenades now scattered into smaller bombs after exploding. Another thing that can be affected by Cole’s actions is the way people will behave around you. If you are nice to people, they’ll return the favor by helping you with gangs. If you’re evil and destructive, people will try to fight you. Of course, none of that really matters when you have all the power of lighting at your disposal. Though, the look of the city will change.
While exploring the city, I also noticed citizens doing all sorts of activities, like lighting cigarettes, getting in fights, stealing, dealing drugs, and even depressed people who sit down and cry. Seeing all of that and even groups of people interacting with each other definitely adds a lot of depth to the environment and gives a sense that the city around you is actually living. According to Sucker Punch, the game’s creator, inFamous is able to greatly and efficiently use the power of the PS3 to make this world as lifelike as it is. Similar to how Insomniac used the CBE their resistance games to enable an almost endless amount of different processes at any given point – like needles ricocheting from a hedgehog - inFamous thrives off of it as well.
I have to say my initial thoughts of this game are quite different than they are now. At this very moment, while writing this, I’ve become extremely hyped for this game. Overall, I think this game will definitely be a game worth picking up and it’ll be something to envy for all the haters out there. It doesn’t replace my hype for Prototype, but it sure does come close. I guess they’ll have to battle it out for my money.