A few weeks ago I did an article on playing the bad guy in a game, and my inability to play the bad way. This last week, however, that changed when my missus bought me a couple of games for our anniversary. One of the games she bought me was inFAMOUS, and it was amazing to see how easily I slipped into a evil gaming persona. Because of this, I decided to do a review of the game in question.
For anyone who doesn’t know, inFAMOUS is a sand box game developed by Sucker Punch for the PlayStation 3. It is a third-person action game where gamers take on the role of Cole MacGrath, a dude inadvertently turned into a superhero or supervillain, who starts the game as a courier in Empire city. While delivering a package, he gets caught in a massive explosion. After dusting himself off and getting to safety, our guy collapses, only to wake up with the ability to wield electricity. After the usual tutorial missions, you’re let free to do what you like, whether it’s completing story or side missions or hunting collectibles, in the form of “blast shards” and “dead drops”.
The first few missions are your standard tutorial ones, easing you into the game and setting the scene while introducing you to the “karma” system, allowing you to take your first steps towards a good or bad alignment. Acting either the good Samaritan or evil-doer will be reflected in the characters appearance and powers, and is a constant factor throughout the game. Outside of missions, you help heal citizens for a small contribution toward your good karma and xp, or drain their energy, killing them in the process while raising your energy levels and boosting your bad karma and xp.
Your karmic levels are divided into six (three good, three bad), so your powers are “buyable” depending on your karma level and how much experience you have to spend. Because of this, staying as a neutral karma just stumps your character growth, so once you’ve made your karmic choice, your best bet is to stick with it to the end, which is a good idea in one respect, as it makes sense to play through the game twice. The problem with this, though, is that I don’t think there is enough variation in the games missions to warrant a lot of people playing through twice. The main missions involve restoring power back to the city and saving people from various predicaments (why would I want to save some citizens when I’m the bad guy?!), or escorting a vehicle from point A to point B, while a lot of the side missions are simple tasks involving clearing an area of enemies or races across the rooftops.
While there might not be much variety in the missions, the game does zip along at a fair pace, and even if you’re not actively involved in missions, but just finding collectibles, you’re constantly moving. That’s not to say you can’t slow down once the enemies are cleared from an area, but it feels logical to restore power to the area, then clear the area of enemies then collect the blast shards and dead drops then move on to next area. In fact, that’s how I’d recommend the game be played.
Story-wise, I couldn’t really take to inFAMOUS. It never gripped me in any way, and the characters weren’t likeable enough for me to give a damn about. That’s probably the reason it was so easy for me to act as the bad guy. As a person, I don’t care about Cole. I don’t care about the plight of the citizens. I don’t care about any of the characters. When the comic-book style cut scenes come on, I just switch off. I don’t tend to listen to the phone conversations, either. While I know that I will replay the game a few times (I’m a bit obsessive like that), I know it’s not the storyline that’s going to bring me back to this game.
When it comes to sound and graphics, both are solid, but not ground breaking. With regards to both graphics and sound, they both appear to be functional, doing the job they need to, but never going beyond the call of duty, just being dependable. The city itself is a wrecked shell with citizens milling about, with attention never really directed at either of them, instead, your attention will be focusing on enemies and collectibles, with the sound never really being an overly important factor.
Overall, I really enjoyed playing this game. It gave me a good opportunity to explore my darker side, and I look forward to replaying as the good guy, but I certainly won’t be playing the game for the storyline.