inFAMOUS - Review
By Dillon - June 16, 2009
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A shockingly fine tuned adventure.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to control electricity? Enter inFAMOUS, the latest game from Sucker Punch Productions. Sucker Punch is the team behind the excellent Sly Cooper series on the PlayStation 2. Instead of continuing that franchise on the PS3, Sucker Punch decided to create a brand new IP with elements of platforming, combat, and exploration. Oh, and the supernatural power of manipulating electricity thrown in for good measure. All these aspects come together to form one the best games of this generation so far.
inFAMOUS is an open world game, and with that in mind it looks very impressive. Textures look great overall and character models get the job done well enough. The lighting is superb, especially with all the electrical effects you'll be using. Animations all look smooth and fitting for the actions you will perform. From a technical standpoint it all impresses, but not much astonishes. From an artistic point of view it manages to stand out as a gloomy world in despair. This sense of dread looms over every street corner, and while it may lack variety it gains immersion.
Who needs webs?
There are a few problems that hold the game back form truly shining. The framerate is not perfect and you will notice it dipping every once in a while. It's not horrible but again it's something you'll definitely notice. Pop-in also happens every now and then but like the framerate it's nothing too serious. The main problem is the lack of variety in the environment. There are three major cities in the game and all of them have roughly the same tone to them. Like I said, while this is something that could have been avoided, it also adds to the sense of the world's restless state. Perhaps it was done on purpose to accompany the story but some people may just get tired of seeing these run down cities for too long.
The audio in inFAMOUS is great overall. The sound effects are excellent, with grand explosions caused by crackling lightning. The voice acting is good with lines delivered realistically without sounding too over the top or cheesy. The dialogue is not outstanding but it will make you laugh occasionally and nothing will make you cringe. If there was any complaint to make about the audio is would be that some of the citizens repeat their dialogue on side missions. This is barley worth mentioning though as you'll likely not notice it more than once or twice. It all sums up to a great, competent audio experience, that won't blow your mind.
The story of inFAMOUS is that of a hero... or a villain. You get to choose the way you want the story to unfold. As Cole McGrath you will get to choose to be a savior of the citizens in a time of need, or to hold them at your knees as a god. The basic concept of the story is well done and the execution works great. It won't blow your mind or bring a tear to your eye but it is a fun and well thought out ride. The choices you make during the game affect the manner in which it unfolds and that mechanic works perfectly in inFAMOUS. You can see the impact of your choices everywhere from the way the people react to seeing you or the way the city cleans itself up or eats itself apart accordingly. The game does a great job of making you wonder what would've happened if you chose the other option, making great incentive to play it again.
I don't think that's what he meant when he asked for a light.
If there's one thing that stands out the most in inFAMOUS, it's the gameplay. Out of all the games I've played so far in this generation of gaming, inFAMOUS plays the best. That doesn't necessarily mean it has the best gameplay mechanics, or game design, or even that it's the most fun to play, but overall everything comes together like a well oiled machine. The controls are absolutely spot on and every action you take is as smooth and precise as one could imagine. Sucker Punch knows how to make a game come together and it shows brilliantly in inFAMOUS.
So while you may forget you're holding a controller when playing inFAMOUS, what will you get to do in the game? A recurring theme in the gameplay of inFAMOUS is control. You control Cole's choices and you control Cole's actions. Those choices vary from "do I save these people or let them die to make things easier for me" to "save one life, or save many lives". The actions you can perform are the means in which you go about making these choices. By actions, I of course mean superpowers. Cole is basically a walking battery. He can absorb electricity for health and shoot lightning from his fingertips, as well as many other surprises. You gain new powers by progressing through the story missions, and while those can be fun, they're only half the game.
[Insert Sly Cooper joke here.]
Side missions play a major role in inFAMOUS because not only do you gain experience points to upgrade your various powers, but you also alleviate enemy activity in a small portion of the city. Eventually, you can complete all the side missions in one of three major islands and by then only a few foes will dare show up. This gives great motivation to do all of the side missions which are all quite fun. They range from clearing an area of baddies to escorting a group of civilians to safety. Some side missions will be repeated a few times but they never really get tiring.
As for the story missions, they are all pretty unique and satisfying in their own way. No matter what you're doing in inFAMOUS, it all feels great due to the great controls and just the simple joy of using all of Cole's abilities. There is a ton of area to explore and the progression of this game is very rewarding. Just when you really want a new power, the game throws one at you, and the pacing of the story fits perfectly with the gameplay. Bosses come up once in a while and they are extremely fun to battle. As with the rest of the enemies in the game, the bosses feel challenging while not getting to the point of frustration.
Combat is wholly satisfying, but what about the exploration? Well, did you ever wonder what Assassin's Creed might play like on crack? That's pretty much what you get here and the result is very enjoyable. Like Assassin's Creed's Altiar, Cole can pretty much climb on anything that sticks out more than two inches and then some. However, inFAMOUS is much more lenient on the player giving it the feel of the platforming in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Cole seems to know exactly where the player wants to jump to and this makes exploring the game world that much more gratifying.
No need to be calm before this storm.
So, while both of inFAMOUS's gameplay elements are great, it's what happens when you combine them that make the game stand out. Jumping from the top of a building firing in slow motion at the enemies across from you only to slam a group of foes below with an electrical drop is amazingly smooth and enthralling. With these components so remarkably blended together, the playability of inFAMOUS truly becomes magnificent.
Infamous looks good, sounds great, and plays like a dream. The story will keep you playing and there are plenty of reasons to explore the world. The game will last you upwards of 20 hours on your first run if you decide to do all the side missions. Once you beat the game you'll certainly want to play through again to see what the opposing choices would have resulted in. If that weren't enough, there are 350 collectible blast shards hidden around the city. These will increase your power level making them worth scavenging for. In addition there are 32 dead drops which reveal the backstory of inFAMOUS. As you can see, inFAMOUS is a very complete package with more than enough content to warrant a purchase. If you own a PS3 and enjoy anything fun, do yourself a favor and pick up inFAMOUS.
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