inFAMOUS Review

Posted on July 2, 2009 by


What the PS3 desperately needs at the moment is good, exclusive titles, and this is exactly what it’s found in inFAMOUS.

One of two free-roaming super-hero games out this summer (The other being Prototype), inFAMOUS puts you in the role of humble cycle-messenger Cole McGrath. One day he’s given a device called the ray sphere to deliver, and when he arrives at his destination, he is told to activate it. The device blows up spectacularly, killing thousands and devastating Empire city. Cole is the only survivor, waking up smack in the middle of a huge, smoking crater.
The game then informs you that as a result of the blast, things have gotten very bad for the city. The whole place ends up quarantined, and a plague breaks out. Gangs run rampant through the streets, terrorizing the locals and taking over, with the cops overrun or dead or in hiding. Cole in the meantime, has developed the ability to manipulate electricity, which he can use to either bring the city back from the brink of ruin, or send it further into hell.
The game is very big on this moral dilemma. Will you save them or destroy them? WHich is all well and good, but frankly a little broken. You see, if offers you the big thing of the moment, a karma Meter. The problem is that there is one choice early on that pretty much sets the route you take for the rest of the game, because it’s actually quite hard to do a karmic u-turn, and there’s absolutely no incentive to do so, as the levelling system for your powers is based on how high you are up the either side of the karma meter. (Which also means that trying to play the game as ‘neutral’ is pretty much impossible above easy difficulty)
I wont go into the story from there, as anything I say would be a spoiler and I try not to do that, so, onto the other stuff. The graphics quality is top-notch, with textures looking smooth and well defined, even at high frame-rates. Character animations are solid, but Cole has so much more to his animations that he tends to stand out from the general population, who look a tad bland in comparison. On the other hand, there are always a lot of civvies wandering the streets, as you would expect from a big city. The game makes a big deal about how it’s a ‘living’ city, whose population ‘react’ to Cole ‘realistically’. What they do is one of two things- If your good, they take pictures and say nice things. If your bad, they insult you and throw rocks at you.
The powers are all electricity based, and the developers clearly spent a lot of time thinking ‘what else can we do with this?’, because along with stuff that makes a certain amount of sense, there’s also some downright bizarre abilities. For example, zapping people to heal them. Or using the ‘arc restraint’ to cuff them to the floor. There are sticky grenades that can, if good, restrain your foes, or if bad, act as a cluster bomb and wipe out a crowd in a matter of seconds.
Without giving too much away, the story is good, if a touch predictable in places. While not patently obvious, I was able to work out the final twist quite early on. The main jist of the story is thus- The ray sphere gives people powers at the cost of other peoples lives, lots of people wants the ray sphere, so Cole must get the ray sphere and either destroy it or use it again to make himself even more powerful.
Enemies come in a variety of forms, from machine gun wielding hoodies, to psychic trash monsters (Think of the mini-boss from the Raxxus Prime level on the Force Unleashed) but real bosses are thin on the ground, meaning that while you amass a ridiculous amount of power, and a variety of ways to expel it at stuff, you never really get to find out what Cole is really capable of. That’s not to say fights are easy, as basic mooks get tougher as you progress, and only five or six of them can present you with a real problem. However, there are some mini-bosses, scattered about, in the form of ‘conduits’. Basically, the mook elite, who possess powers of their own for no adequately explained reason, and tend to put up a decent fight.
Chances are you’re going to play the game twice in order to experience both sides of the story, but you wont be missing a huge amount if you do. Two whole cutscenes are all the difference between hero and villian, and it’s more fun to be a bad guy. Or maybe that’s just me…
In conclusion I would have to say that this is an excellent, well made game. There are a number of small annoyances, like the inability to start a new game from a completed one (Though you can continue playing it after the story is finished). It’s a solid, worthwhile piece, and well worth a look.
Posted in: Games, Review