|Genre||Electric sandbox 1.0|
|MtAMinutes to Action||1|
|Buy from Amazon|
There's something fun about playing catchup on a console like the PlayStation 3. I already know what most gamers think are the best games, and I can pick and choose from the rest that appeal to me. The games are cheap, the library huge, and the experiences brand new.
So here I am with Infamous (also known as inFAMOUS, but that's just awful), Developed by Sucker Punch Productions and released in mid 2009 on just the PlayStation 3. It didn't leave much of an impression with me at the time except that it was going head to head with a game called Prototype, which from afar seemed like a relatively similar gaming experience. Both games were successful in their own right, Infamous 2 landed last year which Nate reviewed, and Prototype 2 shipped last month.
Infamous is my fourth PS3 catchup game this year, following Batman: Arkham City, Heavy Rain, and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I've enjoyed them all, and am currently very fond of the PS3 experience. Of course, I'm limiting myself so far to games I know are pretty great, so I may be biased. Here's my first hour review of Infamous.
00 - I press Start on the title screen and everything immediately goes to hell. A bomb goes off in the middle of a city, people are running and screaming everywhere, debris is flying all over. The bomb looks electrical in nature. A man says Cole is “looking good” after checking his vitals. Cole wakes up in the middle of the warzone bruised and battered.
01 - The camera pulls back, showing the carnage. I’m told to push the right joystick around to look, this is probably setting my default camera settings. Inverted forever! I take control of Cole and start running through the debris field. Stuff is exploding all around me.
02 - Some guy named Zeke calls. Somehow Cole’s phone still works even though he was in the middle of a terrorist attack. Okay, somehow Cole is still alive, that’s probably more important. I run past an exposed circuit breaker and get zapped. More timed events causing stuff to crumble all around me.
03 - My first death! It wasn’t obvious where to go so I... jumped. Whoops. This time I turn the corner correctly and trigger a cutscene of Cole getting zapped again and then setting off a chain lightning attack around him. There’s some police, and there’s Zeke. More electricity zapping around me... whooo! Lightning strikes!
04 - “Oh no! It’s the terrorists!” Cole makes it to Zeke and blacks out. A comic book cutscene kicks off to explain the next few days of horror.
05 - Tons of people dying, a plague hits, “civilization committing suicide.” This is a pretty effective way to quickly explain what’s happening, a wordier game would probably spend the next 20 minutes catching me up.
06 - Cole is mastering his new-found powers. “Empire City. Day 14 of the Quarantine.” I charge up Zeke’s rooftop car batteries so he can watch television. Using the radar in the corner of the screen seems very important in finding pertinent objects.
07 - Next up I fry some of the dummies around the roof with my electrical zap.
09 - A plane has flown over with a food drop. Some guy on the TV tells us we’d all better get there before the Reapers show up. Reapers is way overused in fiction. Cole jumps off the roof, knocking a ton of people off their feet. That was weird.
10 - Before the food, we’re off to pick up Zeke’s new gun. Cole blew up the last one when his inner electricity set off the gun powder.
11 - After quite a bit of running, we find some cars where Zeke’s gun is hidden and I learn a new shockwave move. After a bunch of zapping, my powers are drained so I go suck some juice out of a nearby breaker.
14 - After more running, we arrive at Archer Square where the food is stuck hanging from a statue. I’m sent to climbing and retrieve the food. Apparently I’m the only superhero in town.
15 - I drop the food but then the Reapers show up. A comic book cutscene tells the Reapers’ story: former junkies turned militant hooligans. They start shooting me with their rifles so I start shooting them with my electricity. Infamous follows the now ever-present shooter trope of reddening your screen as you take damage.
17 - I’m offered my first karma decision! I can either zap people and take their food, or let the citizens eat. I let them eat so I gain some good karma points and reach the karmic state of Guardian.
18 - The TV hacker from earlier says that I’m the terrorist! More comic book scenes of Cole describing how he delivered the bomb that went off and that people are starting to recognize me as the proposed scapegoat. After the scene some random citizens try to beat me up. I leave them be.
21 - Zeke wants to meet across town so I hightail it out of there. Reapers are constantly sniping and taking potshots at me from the roofs. So annoying. We’re going to try and escape off a bridge. Of course, Empire City is a perfect island city.
22 - Another karma decision, can either fry the guards from within a crowd or... do nothing and be good again. The riot police go down easy with my shockwave attack. Time to bust across this bridge with hands blazing. These cops actually have guns, so I take cover behind barricades.
23 - There’s also some heavy machine guns that I’m forced to flank, nothing too complicated.
26 - At the end of the bridge, a ton of guards mow down the protesters that stupidly followed me into the warzone. Zeke and I manage to escape. Well, I escape right into the clutches of an FBI agent.
27 - Moya wants to give me a deal: find her husband and this mysterious device and she’ll wipe my slate clean. Cole accepts it no questions asked.
28 - I’m underneath the bridge now making my way back into the city. A few Reapers shoot and me and I fall to my watery death a few times, but nothing too complicated for a third person platformer.
32 - After making it back to land, the game automatically increases my difficulty to Hard. Umm... all right, that’s interesting. I’ll give it a try. Cole meets back up with Zeke and they head home.
33 - An Abraham Lincoln quote flashes by on the screen while loading. What?
34 - Cole heads out and I check into upgrading my powers. There’s a few karma specific powers, and some are locked, so I put my experience into reducing damage and my primary lightning attack.
36 - There are three side missions available to me so I pick one at random on the map and start running. It’s annoyingly on the roof of a building so I climb up. There is shimmying (I hate shimmying), but Cole moves pretty dang quick.
38 - First task is to investigate some satellite dishes scattered around the city. At each dish is an audio message from Moya’s husband, hopefully with clues about his whereabouts.
46 - The next mission sends me off to a makeshift medical clinic that needs help defending itself from the Reapers. Sounds simple enough.
47 - Just in case you forgot the Reapers were bad guys, they show one shotgunning a civilian right in the chest. Subtle. After clearing out the area I actually won back some territory from the Reapers, cool!
50 - The next mission hooks me up with one of Moya’s contacts who has gone dark. I check out an alley and find the dead body of a woman, suspicious.
51 - Even more suspicious is Cole’s sudden ability to tap into the memories of the dead woman. That doesn’t make any sense at all. The Reapers have kidnapped Brandon and Cole follows the “echo” of someone running away. Ridiculous.
54 - The mission brings me to a big Reaper battle where I’m killed a few times. There is a lot of craziness when you can blow stuff up with your hands. There’s also an advanced Reaper that can like shoot a ground shockwave at me.
57 - An entire substation blows up from the battle and I lose all of my electrical powers, requiring me to steal some juice from cars and breakers.
58 - I see that stupid Echo go in the sewers so I follow. I manage to power up Cole with some sort of machinery, and a bunch of cutscenes play showing off my new abilities. I can now Heal injured people, put electrical handcuffs on Reapers, or suck the life force out of people, killing them. I guess this all feeds into my karma.
60 - The first hour of Infamous ends with me jumping through the sewers.
Minutes to Action: 1
Bias: None, really. I like sandbox games, I like karma-based decisions, I guess I like shooting electricity out of my hands too. I've never played Prototype, so I have no built in fanboy bias against Infamous either.
Would I Keep Playing? Yes, I'm enjoying the fast-paced, get-to-the-point action of Infamous. I love how when you press Start to begin the game, everything immediately blows up and the story gets right to it. Cole moves around quickly, if a bit floaty, and the comic book cutscenes that break up the action move at a breakneck speed. Honestly, the slowest part of Infamous is actually the gameplay and that moves at a great pace.
So I guess I can declare that this was a pretty good first hour, top 10% that I've played. Most of the plot points are absolutely ridiculous such as the Echo person, Cole immediately agreeing to work with the FBI, and just the fact that Cole is alive after a bomb going off in his hands. I'm assuming the bomb was actually the device that transferred power from everyone around Cole to him, but still, kind of stupid stuff. But it does make for a fast-paced and fun first hour.