Iíve recently joined the Dark Side, after years of griping about the PS3 I thought it was about time I finally got the console, what better way to Christen it too with a copy of inFAMOUS, yes, I love sandbox games and it seemed the perfect one to cut my PS3 teeth on. Story
If youíve been living in some unenlightened age or under a rock, then youíre going to miss out on the latest gameplay gimmicks that seem to have jumped into the game industry both feet first. One of them being the resurgence of the anti-hero, that troubled soul who has been made responsible for the events that are about to unfold or is indeed the cause. In the case of Cole, the main protagonist for inFAMOUS, itís the former and a bit of the latter. Cole wakes up after the big explosion and finds that he seems to have developed lightning based electrical powers.
Whatís excellent about the storytelling in inFAMOUS is that itís done through simple comic-book cut-scenes that are laced with a lot of atmosphere and a good deal of dark humour. Itís through these scenes that we find out more about Cole and what drives him, what the city is like and who Coleís enemies really are.Gameplay
Troubled hero (check) and now for the next great gameplay gimmick I canít get enough of, the sandbox environment. Coleís adventures are completely free roaming and set in a fairly large city. Cole begins with a smattering of powers but very quickly as he completes story based missions, puts the power back on in Empire City and solves problems for the inhabitants his power suite grows and he earns Experience Points (another cool gameplay gimmick) which he can use to buy new abilities and upgrade his powers.
Coleís movement and combat controls are a cinch to pull off, thereís a nice context sensitive parkour (free-running) system that brings to mind Crackdown more than Assassinís Creed and Cole can easily navigate his environment. Later on in the game youíll unlock a Static Shock style rail-powerline grind that allows you to zip around the city a lot quicker and Cole also gains the ability to glide using static electricity.
There are numerous side missions in Empire City, some good and some evil. Once you complete a good or evil side mission you lock out the opposing mission for that playthrough. Coleís life can take two directions, heíll come across Karma moments in the game where he can directly affect an outcome and change the way the city and its people view him. Do you want to use your powers to help others, or help yourself? These moments help you head towards the Hero or the Infamous path and unlock a set of new powers depending on your Karmic alignment.
All missions and combat earns you XP, doing cool moves like blasting a guy into the air and then shocking him in the head earns you a bigger reward. At the end of a mission the game indicates what you did as your best stunt and gives you a bonus. Your actions in a mission also lead to a heroic or villainous path: kill too many civilians or police officers and youíre likely to head down towards the Evil side of things. You also get XP if you heal civilians or restrain bad guys (once you can use that power) and there are lots of hidden things to find in the game. Blast shards unlock more battery cores (Coleís energy reserves) and finding enough gives you a new point of energy.
The health meter works on a recharge system and replenishes outside of combat as long as you can hide for a while. You can also recharge Coleís powers as well as his health by draining electrical sources of their power. You can use the left stick (clicked in) to send out a psychic ping and pinpoint certain elements in the environment (amongst other things) such as power boxes and rails. The controls for inFAMOUS are tight, Coleís powers are easy to select and use...there are numerous powers for you to unlock and upgrade and using the parkour system is intuitive and easy. The camera can sometimes get in the way of things but itís only a minor niggle.
In addition to the main story quests that lead you across the city and have you doing a variety of tasks, there are the ever present side missions that are spread around a few different types, none of them are mandatory but they do bring in nice rewards and some bonus experience points. Empire City is a pretty big place and there are at least three distinct zones with gangs in each one. Doing the side quests will capture an area of the city and prevent enemies from respawning.