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inFAMOUS (PlayStation 3) review

"I was always a fan of the Ultimate Spiderman game. Even after I finished it, I would start it up simply for the purpose of jumping off high buildings and web-slinging away at the last minute. It was pure, unadulterated fun. I could not wait, then, when I heard of inFamous. Having invested roughly thirty hours in the game, I can say those comparisons are warranted in some respects and not so much in others. "

I was always a fan of the Ultimate Spiderman game. Even after I finished it, I would start it up simply for the purpose of jumping off high buildings and web-slinging away at the last minute. It was pure, unadulterated fun. I could not wait, then, when I heard of inFamous. Having invested roughly thirty hours in the game, I can say those comparisons are warranted in some respects and not so much in others.

Let's get this out of the way: inFamous is an absolute blast to play. Empire City is a wonderful place to romp around. It plays like pretty much any other open-world game: you have basic story-line missions that propel the main plot along, and at some point in the game, you are let loose with several miscellaneous missions around the city. You can attack these in any order you wish, or go straight through the story. There are missions where you must use stealth to avoid detection while you track down an enemy courier; racing missions where you must restore power to various satellite uplinks; retrieving missions to get back stolen medical supplies, and missions where you simply must kill/detain a certain number of enemies. These, for the most part, offer varied options that do a good job of mixing up the gameplay and keeping things fresh, overall.

Along the way, you'll restore power to sections of the city, and in doing so, gain a new power. These range from throwing electric grenades, to healing people, to my personal favorite: gliding along electric wires and rails. Using these powers is great fun, but one of the problems with the system is that there are not really a lot of specific instances where you need to use certain powers. Plus, your very first power you receive, the lightning bolt, never drains your energy. Even if your energy supply runs out, you can still use the bolt. What's the point of having a power-limit system if you can still use your most basic power when you're empty? It makes your energy drain ability pointless, especially when you upgrade the bolt to the point where it restores certain amounts of energy. That's just bad design.

Visually, inFamous looks very good for the most part. It's always fun to look out at a gorgeous game world and realize that if you can see it, you can, go there. Affording that freedom to a gamer is never a bad thing, and Sucker Punch executes it well. There are certain things the A.I. characters do that will really impress you or catch your eye. I saw on numerous occasions people die in the crossfire of a fight and the person they were with would fall to their knees in shock and despair. One of the things that also caught my eye as I was running behind a person was when they stopped and started going through a dumpster, presumably looking for food. Little things like that really add to the ambiance of the urban setting.

However, there are several glitches in the game; some are A.I. related and some are a result of development oversight. In either case, there are many more instances of it than are acceptable in an open world game such as this. In fact, I ran into one as soon as I started playing, as the main secondary character glitched into a building and prohibited my progress in the very first mission. I had to restart the game. However, the worst place in the game glitch-wise, by far, is the maze of storage containers you find on the second island when you're attempting a rescue operation. I cannot say how many times I glitched through a fence or a box, often at fairly crucial points in the mission. I ran straight through a chain-fence at one point; instead, you have to jump over it in order to trigger the next set of enemies. However, every time I tried to jump on top of a box to make that jump, I glitched through it back to the ground. There was no way for me to move on through the mission! I must have spent ten minutes before I actually landed on that box on the exact spot to be able to jump over the fence.

One of my complaints with the game is that karma moments often don't make sense. The first and second one are pretty well-thought out, but then there are ones such as, "Do I kill this person and take their stash, or do I let them live?" These are just straight-forward occurrences designed to provide a basic morality system. There are often no gray areas in the game where you actually have to put the controller down and ponder what you will do and the possible repercussions. Infamous merely dresses them down into a red-or-blue decision. Real life often happens in shades of gray, not obvious black and white. However, the game provides you little decisions that aren't as obvious, such as whether to heal fallen pedestrians or drain their life energy. I love this mechanic, because it gives the gamer a chance to invest in the city and in the persona of Cole they are establishing. It lends much more weight to some of the more major decisions you run into down the line. The karma system has its flaws, but the rewards or punishment it provides you are very good. For example, if you're good, civilians will throw rocks at enemies to help you. If you're evil, the cops will shoot at you, providing yet another enemy to keep an eye on.

The writing and character development suffer at points in the game. However, the storyline actually did a fair job of pulling me in. I went into this game only expecting to enjoy the open world and the super powers, but instead found myself increasingly yearning for the next development in the story. However, I have to say that Cole is completely miscast. I don't know why they decided to make Cole sound like Christian Bale's Batman, but I almost expect him to shout out "Swear to me," or "I'm not wearing hockey pants," every time he opens his mouth. Most of the characters are pretty one-dimensional. Cole is raspy and rugged, Trish is the helpless dame, at times, and Zeke is the wise-cracking sidekick with no fashion sense. Dialogue can be campy sometimes. You'll pass a civilian who will say, "Death, death, why do you stalk me," or "All you need is a butterfly bandage and you'll be fine." They're cringe-worthy at points. Basically, the game could have definitely used at least another three or four months in polish. Some of the side missions are repetitive and a handful are downright awful (the worst show up in an evil playthrough in my experience). Why do I need to do stunts for a photographer? Why, when I am just starting an evil character, do I have a side mission to murder a random person? I haven't yet established my character as evil enough to commit an act like that. Additionally, it's almost impossible to sneak up on enemy characters from rooftops. As soon as you start falling through the air, they scatter, even if they had no idea you were there in the first place. It was like an omniscient A.I., at times reminiscent of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

When it came time to write my review, I wrote down all the good things about the game as well as all the bad things. Much to my surprise there were several more negative things I noticed during my time playing inFamous. It surprised me because I had a fantastic time playing this game; however, there were far more things that caught my attention in a negative way than a positive and actually made me pause the game in order to take note of them for mention in my review. When contemplating the score to give this game, I settled on a 7 while looking at my list of inFamous's pros and cons; the mean part of me wanting to bestow a 6 upon it because a game of such high billing like inFamous should not have the number if hiccups, glitches, and oversights that it has. That being said, this game, despite its obvious and, at times, glaring flaws, is still so much fun to play that it that it is possible to start playing it, look up after a few minutes, and then realize you've actually been been playing it for four hours. Let's face it, games like that don't come around every day, and when it comes down to it, that "fun-factor" a game possesses can have substantial repercussions.

Despite the flaws of inFamous, Sucker Punch managed to make an incredibly fun-packed title. And in the end, isn't that exactly what we want in a game?

Infamous is rated "T" and is available to purchase from all major retail and online stores.


CptnMayhem's avatar
Community review by CptnMayhem (November 16, 2009)

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randxian posted November 22, 2009:

This looks like a potentially good review that needs some polish. I like how you draw in your reader by discussing how you can explore any area you can see and by explaining the karma system. The aforementioned system seems intriguing, as it seems you can be good, evil, or a shade of gray.

However, there are too many red flags in the review. First of all, I was a bit disoriented by the Ulimate Spiderman comparison. In the second sentence of your review, you talk about how you can jump off buildings and
whatnot in that game. So is inFamous similar in that regard? Or do you mean both provide the players with free reign in terms of tackling objectives? I deduced from the rest of the review you more than likely mean the latter, but it's still not perfectly clear, especially when the sentence following the Ultimate Spiderman plug discusses Spiderman's abilities.

Also, I was put off by the opening sentence in the sixth paragraph that reads "One of my complaints with the game is that karma moments often don't make sense. The first and second one are pretty well-thought out, but then there are ones such as, "Do I kill this person and take their stash, or do I let them live?" By saying "One of my complaints" it makes it look like this is the start of a list of complaints, but the paragraph above goes into exquisite detail about various glitches. This makes the review read a bit clumsily.

Finally, the conclusion is a complete mess. You say you settled on a 7, yet the review is officially scored an 8/10. Also, you plainly state that you listed more negative details than positive, yet you had fun playing the game. Granted, you do list some good qualities in the early paragraph, but even some of those are laced with negatives. I'm still not convinced this game deserves a 7 or an 8, or whatever score you intended to give it, given more than half of the review contains several reprimands.

I don't mean to come across too harsly; I do appreciate how you honestly reported what you felt were key elements in the game. The explanations pertaining to the game mechanics, story, karma system, and glitches were all well done and informational. What this really amounts to is you have a lot of things working for you, but the review doesn't come together as a whole. To me, this is like having a tall glass of egg nog along with a big heaping plate of deluxe chicken nachos. I love both, but wouldn't want to have them together during the same meal. Also, if you really believe this game deserves a high score, then you need to sell that to the reader.

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