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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Impressions: inFamous

Ever since playing Sly Cooper on my PS2, I've been a huge fan of Sucker Punch Productions. They just seemed to "get it" with the Sly Cooper games. It was with this in mind that I decided to visit my local Microplay and shell out $69.99 for inFamous. I downloaded the demo from the PSN Store and liked it. I also had some cash laying around so why not, right?

Is inFamous - a game which combines superhero-fueled action with urban exploration - worth buying for full price?

Yes! inFamous is easily worth $70 and probably worth much more given the game's incredible size and replayability. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

inFamous is a superhero-themed game that takes the very best offered by many games out there and combines them all into one supercharged package. If I were to break inFamous down, I'd say it plays like:

  • Crackdown with a better story and more focus on the end-user experience

  • Spider-Man 2 with more mission variety and tighter gameplay

  • Assassin's Creed with more side-quest variety

  • Sly Cooper with more lightning, fewer talking animals, less thieving...but just as much climbing and rooftop-to-rooftop cityscape traversal!
I've got a couple lists of pros and cons that I've put together for inFamous. Please keep in mind that unlike many professional reviewers, I have not had the chance to sit down and play the game over huge, uninterrupted gaming sessions. As of my last saved game, I'm roughly five or six hours into the game. I still have very few electrical powers, though I was able to unlock the electrical grenade power before shutting down last night. My current focus in the game has been on playing the role of city saviour. I've divided my time mainly between city exploration, finding blast shards (hidden packages), dead drops (more hidden packages), and clearing the streets of the roving gangs of Reapers (bad guys).

Let's start off with the "bad" that I've found in my short-time with inFamous.
  • The game is pretty challenging when first starting out. Reapers attack in numbers and they carry guns. The game's protagonist, Cole, starts out with extremely limited electrical ability.

  • I guess inFamous could become a little repetitive given time...but I've not yet reached this point.
As you can see, the downside to inFamous is very minimal to non-existent. Complaining about game difficulty is stupid as is worrying about a game's possibility of becoming repetitive. I really wish I was playing inFamous right now...

Here's what inFamous gets right:
  • The game's voice-over is great. Everyone sounds believable and seems to get into their roles. Cole sounds like Christian Bale in the Batman series. He comes across as tough and gritty without being over-the-top or disingenuous.

  • There are no load times after the game starts (more or less). And I'd estimate that it takes about a minute from the time I put in inFamous disc to the time I actually start playing.

  • Game controls are tight, responsive, and intuitive. I also know that Sucker Punch put a lot of work into having the game figure out what you're trying to do based on the tiny adjustments made by your thumbs. This form of mind-reading on the part of the game makes controlling Cole easy and extremely fluid as he moves from walls to ledges to rooftops to power lines.

  • Empire City feels truly alive and quite busy despite having suffered from a major disaster. I've also noticed citizens calling out to me to say something nice as I pass by, making me feel much more like a true superhero. Of course, there are still many more citizens who are unsure of my intentions or afraid of me.

  • inFamous does a great job of making you feel powerful and in control of every situation you encounter. I can only imagine how the game will play once I've acquired all of the powers available and upgraded everything to its fullest!

  • Empire City's size is both impressive and a little daunting. I'm looking forward to exploring every square inch!

  • Unlike other sandbox (or pseudo-sandbox) games, inFamous' story is quickly becoming compelling. I figured the game would head in a good yet well-tread direction. But based on some of the things that I encountered last night, I may be in for a few unexpected and very welcome surprises!

  • I love the fact that all blast shards and dead drops can all be found without the use of a guide. One push of the L3 button is all that is required to have Cole send out an energy pulse that will briefly locate any nearby enemies, blast shards, or dead drops. This is a terrific idea and makes 100% completion a distinct reality for many more gamers looking to get the most out of the game.

  • I'm also digging the concept of liberating the various districts of Empire City from Reaper control. Districts are liberated by completing a variety of side-missions. And best of all, a liberated area is free of any enemy presence. If Far Cry 2 had incorporated a similar system, I might still be playing it.

  • Finally, inFamous is just plain fun! Sucker Punch really put their hearts into this game and you can really feel the love. Have I mentioned that I can't wait to start playing again?
inFamous is a true modern day re-imagining of the superhero genre. This game flat-out smokes any other superhero game out there, especially when compared to other "sandbox" style superhero games such as the Spider-Man series, the Incredible Hulk series, or the borderline terrible Superman Returns. If you haven't yet bought a PlayStation 3, inFamous is reason enough to get shopping.

I'll leave you with inFamous' trailer and a couple video reviews! Enjoy!