At first, I was a little put-off by this PS3-exclusive. Why just lightning powers, I asked. What about the other elements? Do I really want a Static Shock-style video game hero? But as time went on the game started looking pretty damn cool, like it had taken some of the best elements from great games like Crackdown and Assassin’s Creed.
You play as Cole, some poor schmuck with a Batman-growl voice who wakes up in the aftermath of a massive explosion. He soon discovers that he has sweet electricity powers, and that the city has been quarantined, with his only hope for escape being finding the mysterious device that caused the explosion. In the days immediately following the blast, the city fell into ruins, with drug dealers and other unsavory characters taking over. If you want, Cole can try to save the city too.
Yes, Infamous has a karma system. It’s ultimately not that great a system, you basically choose between becoming an acrobatic Emperor Palpatine or electric Jesus. You know, either a total dick or crazy selfless, without a real middle ground. Be sure to pick a side quick, because the game’s upgrade system is dependent on your karma, giving more precise attacks to goody twoshoes and area of effect powers to assholes. It’s not that interesting, but the mechanic works well enough that I want to play the game again evil.
The story as a whole is pretty intense, which I really appreciated. Shit goes down, suckers die. Cinematics play out in a decidedly comic booky way, and it nails that kind of super hero drama. There are roughly 40 missions, along with tons of side quests to keep you busy. The variety of those optional missions is enough that most of them did not get old, and I actually wanted to complete all of them, so that I could fully upgrade my character and liberate the city. There are also colletable battery shards scattered around the city that thankfully appear on your radar. There’s more than enough here to keep you busy for quite a while.
But the single thing that this game nails is the controls. Cole has a ton of powers available to him, and all of them are easy to pull off. Infamous is a shooter. It might not look like it at first, but it totally is. You get grenades, rockets, and other thrid person shooter equivalent weapons, which will be your main way of dispatching enemies. The only control trouble I ever had was trying to shield myself whilst hovering in the air, an admittedly complex maneuver. There’s a strange magnetism in the air that pulls Cole to the nearest ledge, wire, or whatever he can grab onto. This lets you pull off some crazy cool acrobatic moves, although occasionally it gets a little annoying, like when you are trying to climb down a building and he takes every stop he can grab.
It also should be addressed that Cole’s electronic blasts cannot travel through chainlink fences, which would not be so annoying if he could actually climb over them. Anything else in the world, from massive skyscrapers to bizarre piles of rubble, is no problem for Cole to summit. But fences, something pretty much everyone can climb over, those are just too much for him. This is the most common complaint I’ve heard of the game, and I think that shows you just how great the rest of it is.
If you ever had fun with a game like Spider-Man 2, this is the game for you. Hell, it might just be the best super hero game yet. But I’m not that far in Prototype yet, so the jury’s still out on that.