Thoughts on Infamous

This weekend I played Infamous. From 4pm yesterday to about 9pm today, with a quick 6 hour nap in the middle. I think it's somewhat sad that a single near 30 year old decided to spend his free weekend playing a video game almost 23 hours... But shut up. I haven't had a free weekend in a while, and Infamous is pretty fun.

Infamous is a new Playstation 3 exclusive game which came out this week. It's made by Sucker Punch, who are the development team behind the Sly Cooper franchise on PS2. Last week, they released a demo on PSN and I liked it quite a bit. So I cleared out my Gamefly queue, and got it in the mail rather promptly.

You play as Cole McGrath, who's been given Super Powers from the epicenter of a massive explosion that has killed 10,000 people in Empire City. However, the military has labeled you responsible for the explosion and its up to you to find the real culprit. Throughout your journey you'll restore order to Empire City, which has been taken over by street thugs. Blah Blah Blah...

Cole has the power of electricity and can fire lightning bolts, create shockwaves. He also has super-strength somehow because he can climb up the side of a building then leap all the way back to the ground without being hurt.

In Empire City, you can go anywhere and do anything, pretty much. It's a free roaming sandbox sort of game. Much like Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown, Assassin's Creed, etc... There are story missions and side missions throughout the map and you can do them whenever you like. The twist is the added morality gauge! You decide whether Cole will be a Hero to Empire City, or its next up and coming Villian.

That's Infamous in a nutshell. On the surface it seems like just another game, but Sucker Punch has carefully studied what's wrong with this sub-genre. Infamous does a lot of things right, but still forgets about some fundamental problems..

Liked! Recognized Difficulty.

At the very beginning, after you escape the crater, you get in your first fire fight with the Thugs. This is your first mission, Spoiler! You pull out your lightning hand and begin zapping all the bad guys. When I completed this mission, the game automatically bumped me up to Hard Mode. "Ok, you're way too good at shooting dudes. Normal will be way too easy, you deserve Hard."

And the game was right! For me, Hard Mode has worked out great. It's still been pretty easy. But there's never been a time when I've been so frustrated I couldn't eventually handle it. Great Feature!

Liked! Hidden crap shows up on the radar.

In any of those games mentioned above, there's a whole lot of stupid crap hidden through out the world. Grand Theft Auto has 'em. Assassin's Creed has 'em. By gull, Infamous has to have 'em. Infamous has Dead Drops and Blast Shards scattered throughout Empire City. They don't show up on the map, but if you click L3 to do your Spidey Sense, if you have one within range of your Rader, they'll appear! Searching for this stuff has never been easier.

Liked! Hidden crap actually means something.

What real incentive is there to locate anything of this hidden stuff, anyways. They only things collecting all the packages in Grand Theft Auto gave you was an Achievement. In Infamous, the hidden stuff is actually useful. Blast Shards are a means of leveling up your electricity gauge. When you collect a certain amount, your capicity for holding electricty increases. Dead Drops are encrypted transmissions that will give you further insight into the background of the story. Collecting them all also gives you Achievements too.

Liked! Every side mission helps you.

In most games, side missions are usually just excuses to level your character or provide some aspect of the story that's not important. The side missions in Infamous do that too, but when you complete one the territory that Thug's control begins to diminish. More people return to the area and enemies retreat from the area. When you go back to the area later for a story mission, it's a lot easier because the amount of enemies have lessened.

Liked! Magnetic Physics makes platforming easy.

Cole can climb walls, street lamps.. basically anything with a patruding space can be grabbed and climbed. Which is a lot like Assassin's Creed or Mirror's Edge. What's the point of running around a city, if you can't run around on rooftops! The most annoying part of those two games is when you miss the mark just ever so slightly when you feel you totally nailed it.

Sucker Punch added a little bit of magnets into the physics so when you're climbing or falling, if you're near something that can be grabbed, Cole will naturally move closer to it. It makes the hit box much larger, and platforming isn't really that annoying.

Liked! Being totally good has its subtle benefits.

No, It doesn't change the story at all. It probably changes the ending, but the overall story is still the same. What I really really like is when you're morality gauge is complete filled to good, the citizens of Empire City will actually help you fight the Thugs! They'll start throwing rocks at the bad guys which makes them easier for Cole to kill! That's awesome! They'll cheer you on when you kill Thugs. They'll cheer you on if you help them out.

Though, I'd wager that if you were totally Evil, the people would probably throw rocks at you.
___

These are pretty small things, but they make Infamous incredibly solid. They removed the more annoying aspects of the annoying parts on the game! Like searching for hidden crap and platforming. It ends up making the game less annoying and increases the mileage tremendously.

After 23 hours, I haven't been pissed off at the game once. If I die or screw up, it's usually my fault and not the games. That's quite an accomplishment because most games are stupid and annoying and Infamous really isn't. (<--- Box Quote)

Playing Infamous is definitely where Infamous shines. If people talk about Infamous, it'll be about some they did in the game. Not something that the game did for them.

Hated!

But unfortunately, that's where Infamous' legacy falls apart for me. There is nothing special about the Sound, the Music, the Story, the Characters... Playing the game is great, but everything else falls flat and makes it rather unmemorable.

All I care about is my morality level, how many blast shards I still need to find, and the other side missions I have left. I don't care about Cole at all. I don't care about the climax of the game, nor what Villians I've killed. Boss Fights have been anti-climatic because who cares? They're just a bigger version of dudes I've fought earlier.

Grand Theft Auto IV was repetitive and way too long, but I cared about Niko and was sad when bleep died. Niko is a great character, and that's what I remembered most from the game. The other characters too. "Cousin!" There is nothing memorable about Cole or Zeke or any other character in Infamous.

So, after playing Infamous for 23 hours, I really haven't gotten anything out of the experience at all. I wonder if its really worth while for me to take another 5 or 6 hours to finish the game.




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