inFamous PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sucker Punch Productions
One of my personal favourite series on the PlayStation 2 was Sucker Punch Production's Sly Raccoon. The games were quality action platform games, with a good dose of stealth. The games had an endearing charm about them which was mostly created by the likeable characters that featured in the games. inFamous sees Sucker Punch take a slightly different approach. There is no cel-shading or charming characters here but this is still a quality game that most PlayStation 3 owners are going to want to get their hands on.
inFamous is a game that gives you the choice of either being a superhero or a super villain. You'll play as Cole, a delivery man, who unwittingly delivers a bomb. If that wasn't bad enough, it's a bomb of incredible power and its explosion manages to take out a good chunk of Empire City and a good portion of its inhabitants. In fact the city is now a disaster zone with a plague spreading like wildfire and gangs running riot and causing pandemonium. The city has been quarantined and this essentially means that no law enforcement is even going to attempt to bring order to the chaos. One of the more interesting side effects of the explosion is that Cole now has the ability to shoot bolts of electricity and it's up to you to use Cole's power's to find out who was really behind the explosion. You'll also have the option of either helping the people of the city or making the situation a whole lot worse. Cole's help certainly is needed however as there are others who have super powers and they certainly don't appear to want to make the situation any better.
inFamous could be described as an open-world game where you get to roam at will shaping the storyline in a way that suits you. There are many missions to undertake in the game. There are the story missions which help to move the main storyline along and there are those optional missions that you are free to take or ignore. There are times when there are decisions to take. Do you take the easy route and endanger lives or do you do the right thing in not endangering the lives of others but generally make things more difficult for yourself? You'll earn good karma for good actions and evil actions will result in evil karma. Your actions will have an effect on how people react to Cole and over the course of the game you'll see his appearance change to suit the choices you've made which is a nice touch (and reminiscent of games such as Fable of course). Your actions will earn experience points (XP) and you can use these to upgrade the good or evil powers you have access to.
Sucker Punch deserve a lot of praise for the tightness of the game's controls. Both the platform game elements and the action sequences are enjoyable because the controls feel right. The action sequences in particular are impressive and one of the main reasons for this is that the controls are so responsive. Yes there will be times when Cole will fall and you're taken back to the last checkpoint (you're never asked to backtrack more than a few moments though which is excellent) but you'll know it's your own fault and not because the controls feel too loose and suchlike. You won't even be frustrated by the camera angles in the game because the camera is generally excellent and rarely leaves you with a less than ideal view of the action. The platform game elements feel spot on but given Sucker Punch's experience with the Sly Raccoon games this is no surprise.
inFamous is definitely one of the better looking PlayStation 3 titles to date but that's not to say there aren't any problems. There are some frame rate issues, glitches and graphical pop-up which help to take some of the gloss off the game. However, the game's presentation is deserving of high praise. The graphic novel style cutscenes are impressive and really help to deliver the storyline in an interesting and stylish way. The game world is about as different from the Sly Raccoon games as possible. There's no bright colour palette here. In keeping with the mood of the storyline, the game has a dark and gritty look and Empire City looks as if it's played host to a world war with the amount of destruction that it has suffered.
The Sly Raccoon games were not as deaf gamer friendly as they could have been and initially I thought there were going to be some serious problems with inFamous. When you first play the game you'll simply press the start button and go straight into a new game. Unfortunately, whilst subtitles are available in the game, they aren't enabled by default. What this means is that you're going to miss out on a small amount of dialogue before you can get to pop into the options menu and enable the subtitles. This seems a rather clumsy way of going about things but at least you're not missing out on anything of great importance. The subtitles have no character names or portraits so it's not always clear who is saying what. However if anyone is contacting you, you are made aware of who is talking to you and a character portrait is shown. Tutorial messages are in text. Objectives are shown in text too and the location of both the story and optional mission objectives are shown on the mini-map.
It would have been a comfortable option for Sucker Punch Productions to have created a Sly Raccoon sequel for their first game on the PlayStation 3 but instead they made the bold decision to give us something completely different. It's a decision that's really paid off as inFamous is a great game and easily one of the more interesting ones on the console to date with excellent controls and top notch action. In fact it's arguably the best action game on the PlayStation 3 at the moment.