sunnuntai 25. syyskuuta 2016

REVIEW - inFamous

GENRE(S): Action-adventure, Third-person shooter, Open-world
AVAILABLE ON: PlayStation 3
DEVELOPER(S): Sucker Punch Productions
PUBLISHER(S): Sony Computer Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 26, 2009

inFamous is a game I've wanted to do ever since I first started doing this thing. It's easier to go over the reasons why, before going into the couple of why-nots.

1. It's an open-world adventure game currently laid smack in the middle of the history of action games set in an urban, open world. Long after Grand Theft Auto III, right before Assassin's Creed II, and long before Grand Theft Auto V came, saw, conquered, and destroyed all hope for future developments' (such as Watch_Dogs) chances to really succeed in the open-world genre. Plus, unlike Grand Theft Auto or Assassin's Creed, this game was set in a post-apocalyptic world. Post-apocalyptic is kinda like my middle name. I never seem to lose interest in the different possibilities of a post-apocalyptic (open) world.

2. It was the second time a dedicated Sony developer went out to break loose of their family-oriented image. Naughty Dog did it first with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and we all know how that game fared, not to mention what kind of stellar franchise followed that game. Sucker Punch were known for Sly Cooper, and inFamous was their ticket to young adult land; being a PS3 exclusive already meant a lot when inFamous came out, so all in all it was a widely anticipated game.

3. The overpouring similarities between the story of inFamous protagonist Cole MacGrath and the story of Peter Parker - which, no doubt, are intentional, and have even inspired some critics to establish a spiritual connection between this game and the classic sixth-generation Spider-Man titles. "With great power comes great responsibility." Peter Parker has embraced that as a rule. Cole MacGrath, however, is given a conscious choice. Will you choose ultimate power, or will you choose responsibility? Like in any good karma-based game, you won't be able to grasp the underlying greatness of inFamous without trying both sides.

Which brings us to the question: is the game good and interesting enough to endure multiple playthroughs? Back when I got this game as a present having not the balls to risk the invest myself, I thought it was quite good, but I couldn't possibly muster the energy for a second playthrough - which the game needs to unfold, there's no escaping that. Also, inFamous didn't have a franchise backing it up, so I kept pushing it forward 'til it would have at least one sequel to make me want to go for a marathon. I tried, both times that a major sequel broke through, to get motivated for inFamous again, but on both occasions, I found the game heavily outdated by its peers. Even moreso on the second try, of course. Well, now I'm finally on that one final crusade to find out if inFamous truly is as outdated as it seems, and if evil's truly the only way to go if you want to succeed in this game.

Electric Funeral

The sprawling metropolis of Empire City is caught in a massive EMP blast, which results in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, and a total, city-wide power failure. Caught in the center of the blast is deliveryman and urban explorer Cole MacGrath. Instead of succumbing to the blast, Cole becomes a human battery, a walking electrical conduit who is able to take advantage of any trace of electricity in any way he pleases. With these new powers constantly growing stronger, Cole is faced with the ultimate question: will he use these new powers to help Empire City back to its feet, or reduce what's left of it to mere ash?

A superhero with his villainous fits.
inFamous was released at the perfect time for a PlayStation exclusive. At first, no one really knew what kind of a game it was to be, except for the core story element of being able to play the superhero or a supervillain in a superhero game. Stick that in a PlayStation exclusive, one made by such a revered developer, albeit one who had only made games for kids or early teens at that point - remember Naughty Dog - get blessed with a couple of damn fine early reviews, and you've got another PlayStation classic right there. Well, inFamous did never reach the massive popularity of Uncharted; Uncharted 2: Among Thieves came out some time later - hell, they might even have picked up a few climbing points from inFamous - and once it did, people hardly remembered this game anymore. The Uncharted franchise became the new cornerstone of the Sony PlayStation family, something inFamous was always intended to be. Bad advertising, or a good game that just wasn't good enough? I guess there's a bit of truth to both claims. inFamous is a great game that had all the potential to be a great franchise. There are just a few things really off about it - the game, I mean. I'll have to take a rain check with the rest of the series. Let's talk inFamous.

The cutscenes are more than a little detached from the game,
but in themselves they look quite damn good.
inFamous is an open-world action game, a third-person shooter with some RPG elements. Your secondary objectives besides the story are to help out the people of Empire City on either side of the law to gain territory; collect different stuff to either boost your maximum shock energy, find out more about the game's (very nice) backstory beyond what the twists in the main storyline lay out in the open; and finally, no game of inFamous is complete before amping your abilities up to eleven, whether you're the hero or the villain of this story. It's not just about a few key decisions at a few key points of the game how your character develops - everything, and I do mean everything, you do in inFamous is tracked to determine your karma. When you're attacked by a horde of enemies in the middle of the street, when an electrified grenade or a gigantic hammershock to the center of the crowd would prove the most effective option, you should remember that any civilians caught in the blast become food for your karma meter. If you're generally playing it nice, you could try to compensate the situation by going over to and healing any surviving civilians, and capturing surviving enemies for the police to handle. Or, if you're playing rough, just unleash the mayhem. Throw in a few more bombs to make doubly sure they're ALL down.

Of course the storyline missions and the big decisions, which are thankfully thoroughly explained by short cutscenes to avoid making drowsy mistakes with and for your character, have the most impact on how the game plays out for you. The final battle and the ending are both pretty much the same for both karmic outcomes, with some differences in the final monologue of the game, just to ensure us that a sequel was always coming. Which is good, 'cause inFamous can get quite tedious towards the end - here's hoping they fixed the most major mistakes with the sequel.

Running out of juice

First and foremost, inFamous is all-around repetitive. For the first few hours, the side missions have a fine abundance of variety to them. Towards the end, they're starting not only to repeat themselves by a long haul, but they're also repeating elements from storyline missions that weren't that fun to begin with. Collecting stuff, now that's what I'd advise you to do all the time instead of saving it all for later - you have this kinda "Spider-Sense" that shows the collectibles readily available to you on the minimap. There's a whopping total of 350 Blast Shards hidden all over Empire City's three districts, and only 300 of them have any actual use in gameplay - the remaining 50 are a disappointing gift to all Trophy Whores out there. The rest of the collectibles aren't nearly as much of a nuisance in total than going after the 50 Blast Shards that don't have any use, and could be anywhere in this sprawling pile of a city. Empire City ain't exactly the most interesting sandbox there is - it's kind of like a post-apocalyptic HD remaster of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III. Just without the cars. And the distinctive landmarks. And the different layers of terrain. And the hoes. Each district is supposed to be distinctly different from the next in style, but to be honest, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the districts if not for distinctly different enemies occupating each one. Yeah, regular enemies come in three types. There are some variations to each type of enemy, but not enough to carry an open-world game.

His delivery service just got a whole lot faster.
Finally, the story, as unique and exciting it basically is - it's a God damn open-world superhero game of completely original design! - is not told very well. Most of the voiceover work is fair enough, but the dialogue itself is clumsy, and somehow even aggravating, I can't really describe it any better. The cutscenes that are stylized after classic superhero comic books look really nice, but they're detached from the game and occasionally, they even seem to go against the karmic settings of your character, and the rest of the cutscenes are just bad cinematics. The exchanges between Cole and his ex-girlfriend, or his fat, dumb, jealous and arrogant (read: clichéd) best friend are painful to watch and listen to. There's just no emotional charge there of any sort.

My second round through inFamous was certainly a nice one, but that's only 'cause six years had passed. There are two people I know to have played this game through twice in a row to get to the Platinum Trophy, but I simply could never have done that. In all its length and size, not to mention how boring and repetitive a true open-world adventure in this game can get, and the crappy dialogue, in my opinion inFamous is not a game to be thoroughly completed at once. But, back to the original and more important question, is it outdated? No. General gameplay mechanics are actually way better than I remembered, and Cole's climbing ability is superior to any assassin's in the Assassin's Creed series, as far as gamer's comfort is concerned at least. So there, a very essential complimentary point before I wrap this up and delve into the sequel(s) for the first time.


inFamous is full of both superficial pros and superficial cons, a fairly even splice between good and bad karma. But, focusing on what's truly essential about an entertaining action game, inFamous excels in a whole bulk of it. The controls are fluid, the core mechanics of the game work fantastic. The new abilities are easy to grasp, and easy enough to execute with this terrific control scheme - except for the final ability which is another example of how useless the Sixaxis always was. Although it's not always carried that well due to the monotonic and clumsy dialogue, the story is fascinating and unique, and the resolution, regardless of your choices, paves an interesting path to a very interesting sequel. So, if you're on the market for a fairly entertaining open-world action-adventure apart from the more high-profile must-haves of its kind, inFamous is quite a solid choice for you.

+ Near-perfect controls
+ Fantastically delicate karma system
+ Great story...

- ...Brought down a tick by average voiceover work and frustrating dialogue
- Repetitive side missions
- Monotonic world and enemy design

< 8.1 >

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