Tech News on G4
'inFAMOUS' is exCELLENT
June 22, 2009
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
Having superpowers does not always a superhero make. At least, that's what inFAMOUS proves.
The newest game from Sly Cooper developer Sucker Punch, inFAMOUS is the latest game to take on the sandbox genre, and from beginning to end, does so quite successfully.
inFamous starts mysteriously enough. Set inside the fictional Empire City, the game begins with a massive explosion that levels the entire city. The main character, Cole, wakes up with electrical powers that he has no idea how he got.
Cole is as in-the-dark about what's going on as the gamer controlling him is, and it's only by playing through the game that the mystery surrounding the blast and Cole's past begins to unravel.
Though the plot itself is passably compelling, it's the gameplay that will have you coming back to inFAMOUS over and over again. Though he doesn't wear blue and red tights, the superhero that Cole can most easily be compared to is Spider-Man. He may not shoot webs from his hands, but Cole can climb just about any vertical structure in Empire City. He will latch on to just about anything, so getting to the top of buildings is a piece of cake.
Climbing stuff is one thing, but taking advantage of Cole's powers of electricity is something else altogether. Though he starts off with little more than the ability to shoot electric charges from his hands, Cole will slowly but surely earn experience by downing enemies and completing objectives, allowing him to open up new powers, each one cooler than the last. Thunder drop allows Cole to land from up high with a thunderous earthquake that can take down anyone and anything nearby. Bio Leech lets him steal the energy of any living creature (friend or foe) to gain back energy and health. Shock grenades, meanwhile, are as self-explanatory (and awesome) as they sound.
There is one small catch here though. After being blasted to smithereens, Empire City is for the most part left in the dark, and Cole's electrical powers aren't unlimited. He has to make his way through different sections of the city, restoring power so that he can drain energy sources to recharge his energy meter. Fear not though, because though Cole's energy meter tends to run out quickly, it isn't difficult to find an electric source to recharge him. If done differently, this could have been a very tedious aspect of inFAMOUS, but luckily, Sucker Punch managed to pull it off successfully.
A sandbox game is only as good as the missions it provides, and the missions in inFAMOUS are assuredly downright addictive. Though some side missions are recycled quite a bit, there's enough here to keep things fresh throughout. These missions include activating rooftop satellites in a limited amount of time (almost Mirror's Edge-esque), taking out a series of surveillance cameras on a target building, clearing areas swarming with enemies, and even stealth missions where you have to follow an informant carrying a package without being seen.
Though you can choose to focus only on the main story missions, finishing side missions allows you to gain more XP, which means the ability to open and upgrade more powers. The other thing this accomplishes, and the other big aspect of the game, is how you live your life now that you have the powers of a superhero. Everything you do in inFAMOUS has an effect on your karma meter. Are you the kind of person who heals injured bystanders on the street and runs to the rescue of those in need? Or do you take out anyone and anything in your way and ignore those who plead for help?
You'll not only be 'judged' on simple actions like healing (or stealing energy from) hurt civilians, you'll come across several karma moments while playing inFAMOUS. In essence, these moments force you to complete an action of some sort in either a peaceful way, or in a more unsympathetic way. These karma moments are very black and white though, so don't be expecting to sit there for very long debating what to do. If you're playing as a good guy, you'll quickly opt for the good choice and vice versa.
This is the one real aspect that gives inFAMOUS some replayability, since there is no multiplayer to speak of (not that that's necessarily a bad thing). Though the plot is generally the same depending on if you're good or bad, there are still different 'good' only or 'bad' only missions to play through, and once you finish one, the other gets locked completely and the only way to attempt it is by playing the game through again differently, depending on whether you were good or bad the first time.
The level of interaction with NPCs isn't nearly as complex as something like Grand Theft Auto, but luckily there's still more to do in inFAMOUS to keep busy. There are hundreds of blast shards scattered in out-of-the-way places in Empire City to be collected (similar to Crackdown's coloured orbs). Besides the fun of simply collecting these shards, they also allow Cole to power up his energy meter. There are also satellite 'dead drops' that can be found on the rooftops of buildings that give the player a deeper look into the history of what made Cole the way he is.
The only other real issue with inFAMOUS is the controls themselves. For the most part they're quite good, but Cole can be a little too 'sticky' sometimes, and pulling off a simple act like hopping off of a lamppost can become a lesson in frustration. You'll press the 'X' button once to jump off, but Cole will often latch onto a nearby window or ledge. Then you'll try to jump off that window or ledge, and Cole will latch onto something else nearby. It's not a game breaker, but it can be frustrating.
All-in-all, inFAMOUS makes being a hero a ton of fun (surprisingly not often the case in superhero video games). There's a ton of stuff to do in Empire City, and the quick missions and constant upgrades give inFAMOUS a truly addictive quality.
inFAMOUS may not be rocket science, but it doesn't have to be when it's this much fun.
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.