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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Infamous Sony PS3 Review


Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Designer: Nate Fox
Version 1.00
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release date: NA May 26, 2009

EU May 29, 2009
AUS June 4, 2009
Genre: Third-person action, sandbox
Mode: Single-player
Rating: BBFC: 12
ESRB: T
OFLC: M
PEGI: 16+
USK: 18
Media Blu-ray Disc
System requirements 1303 MB
Input methods Sixaxis, DualShock 3

At one point in time every guy and maybe girl wanted to be a superhero. Well the video game industry has also been trying in vain to recreate a superhero experience but has made great strides in getting it wrong. One of the best superhero games to date is Spiderman 2 for the Sony PlayStation 2. The game had citizens packing side missions, enemies roaming the city, and more. Of course, it also had a bunch of problems, but it at least gave the world a glimpse of what a superhero game could be. Now fast forward five years later add a Blu-ray player a Sony PlayStation 3 and throw Sucker Punch into the mix and Infamous is born.

Suckers Punch Production has managed to released an instant classic in Infamous for the Sony PlayStation 3. Suckers Punch, better known for the Sly Cooper series for Sony PS2 has branch off and created an incredible new exclusive world with Infamous.

Infamous put's you in the shoes of protagonist Cole MacGrath, a bike messenger caught in the epicenter of an explosion that devastates several city blocks of the fictional Empire City. Though the game's story follows Cole using his new abilities to restore some semblance of order to Empire City, the player is given several opportunities to use these powers for good or evil purposes in the game's Karma system, ultimately affecting character growth, the reaction of the City's populace towards Cole, and finer elements of the story.

Empire City is broken into three islands, and the player must work through main story missions on each island before being able to access the next one, though future missions may require the player to return to an earlier island. Each island is divided into a number of sectors, at the start of the game controlled by three different gangs. The player can undertake a side mission in each sector, once certain main story requirements have been met, to free that sector from gang control, reducing or eliminating the presence of the gang in that sector. Other side missions may also unlock medical stations where Cole will re-awaken should he fall in battle.

Cole's best friend is a fellow courier named Zeke, who takes initial refuge from the chaos on the streets at a rooftop pad and becomes both impressed and jealous of Cole's newfound powers. Trish is a medical student and Cole's girlfriend at the start of the game, but rejects him after accusing him of causing her sister's death. Shortly after the explosion, Cole meets with FBI agent Moya, who assigns him missions to complete in Empire City in hopes of finding an agent named John. John was trapped in the city while investigating a case for another agency when the quarantine was enacted and has left numerous encoded messages on satellite receivers. A rogue DJ, "The Voice of Survival", manages to broadcast his conspiracy-laden, panic-provoking messages across the city from a TV station.
Once you take control of Cole the former urban explorer, you will notice that your controls for Infamous is very fluid and responsive. Cole is very "sticky" he easily grabs onto just about everything that is laid out in Empire City. What makes Infamous different, you have the ability to easily transverse any building, any light pole and virtually any vertical/horizontal surface. Now unlike most superhero games Cole has some rudimentary and very cool modes of travel, they is travel by foot, an static electric glide, grind the railroad tracks & power cables or hop on top of the trains and take a tour of Empire City while executing some electrifying moves. Most open world games gives you the ability to commandeer cars or vehicles to transport you around town. Infamous ditches the car jacking for a more engaging experience that forces you to discover and explore Empire City. There is a great satisfaction hopping onto the train tracks and power lines and grinding around they city as you pick off the Empire City's garbage.

Empire City is a lively and gloomy place all at once, Sucker Punch does a great job of breathing life into the infected city. Sure, there are bystanders waving their arms to signify side missions, but how many times was I searching for a blast shard only to have someone run up to me and beg me to come heal a friend?. If you get caught up in how fun it is to zap bad guys and glide around town, it's these moments coupled with the out of control fires and destroyed vehicles that remind you that you're living in a city that has just gone through its darkest hour and doesn't know how to get back on its feet. Infamous visual level of chaos brings the seven year old out of you.

Once you press start you have to decide if you are going to be the savior or if you can reek total havoc and chaos throughout Empire City. And this is where Infamous get's very interesting, I choose to be a savior of all things good. Infamous karma moments system works very well, when you're faced with a good/evil decision it's very clear there are real world consequences that affects Cole and the rest of Empire city. Now some of your decisions may not seem down right evil because of the current circumstances. That evil decision at that time may make all the sense in the world depending on where you are at in the game. When a bunch of food gets dropped in Archer Square, Cole can let the masses get their fair share or zap the people so he and his friends are taken care of; etc. What I liked about the Karma Moments is that most of the time Cole justifies why he'd pick the bad option, which makes it not seem that bad; I mean, why wouldn't you want to zap the police from a crowd of protesters so that you have more people fighting alongside you rather than having it be one-on-12? Depending on your decisions you make as a savior or conqueror of Empire City the citizens will either love you or hate you. The citizens will put posters up increasing your visibility as evil or good, some may take picture of you while chanting and cheering or other may throw rocks at you because you are a low life scum sucking evil bastard.
Outside of these events, which are littered throughout the story and side missions, your actual actions feed into the morality meter as well. When you see a person writhing around on the sidewalk, you can be good and heal the person with a quick defibrillator burst or you can suck the bio-electricity from the person's body and kill them. That's an extreme example, but the smaller stuff matters, too. When you're out on a mission, the game keeps track of everything you do. When you complete a task, the game shows your stats as a pop up letting you know the task is done, how many experience points you've earned, as well as how your actions have influenced your Karma. See, if you're trying to be a good guy, you can't run and gun it through the game. You need to make sure you're only taking out the bad guys and not beating the hell out of the citizens of Empire City -- the citizens who love to get in your way.

As you're completing missions and taking out Empire City's trash on the streets, you're earning XP. This can then be exchanged for upgrades to most of your superpowers, some of which have three upgrades of sickness. As you upgrade Cole's powers it's becomes evident that Cole is one bad ass shout your mouth. If you are playing on the side of all things good your upgrades will allow you non-lethal take downs. For example as you upgrade and do good deeds, your shock grenades will also tether your enemies to the ground giving you a non-lethal way of submission. As you do more evil deeds and cause havoc your powers causes more damages over a wider area. Your same shocker grenades spreads out into multiple grenades over a wider radius destroying everything around them.

As Cole explores the city, he comes across three others with super powers like himself. Sasha is a scorned lover, trying to earn Cole's romance, and has the ability to use a tar-like plague-inducing substance to control the minds of others. She controls the Reaper gang of the Neon District. Alden is a wizened old man with powerful telekinesis abilities that leads the Dustman gang in the Warren District as well as mechanical golems under his control. Alden and his forces fight the First Sons, an ancient fraternal organization that works out of the Historical District. Kessler, a man with many super powers, controls the First Sons, using them to seek out Cole and the Ray Sphere, the device that caused the explosion in Empire City. These characters and events are beautifully driven home via cutscenes that play out as moving graphic novels

Playing Infamous for the very first time made me feel like I was Cole trying to find all the answers to my freakish powers. Sucker Punch does a great job with infamous game engine allowing for spectacular explosions, great lighting effects and pure chaos with minimum drop in frame rate. One of the most impressive things about Infamous is the draw distance, you can see for miles and beyond. You can find broken pieces of blast shards by just looking into the distant for a faint blue glow. Infamous also boast some of the best explosions in video games to date. A great example of the perfect explosion, was when I first blew up a gas station, the joy of unnecessary destruction and total human collateral damage overwhelmed me glee.

I do have a few criticisms about Infamous, one being that it felt short it took me about 30 hours to complete the entire game completing all missions as Good Cole. After I was done with Infamous, it left me wanting more now and soon in the future. I am very surprise there are no DLC available yet for Infamous such as a new city to explore or maybe new powers to find and unleash. Another minor flaw with Infamous was that at times Cole felt way too sticky. This does not take away any moments from the game but there are a few instances that it can be slightly annoying. My last complaint are the spawning of bad guys, on normal this is not bad at all but on hard it can be a slight pain in the ass. When you finished the first wave move a few steps and then all of a sudden the enemies are re-spawning in troves. This adds to the overall chaos of Empire City but I was never a fan of unlimited spawning enemies.

Infamous has virtually no load times only when the game starts and no pre-installs, but this does lead to some pop-in here and there. It's never anything major, but don't be shocked to see cars sprout up and building textures drop in as you rocket into areas of the city. Beyond the engaging story chockfull of interesting characters, there are a bunch of side projects for you to tackle. An undercover agent has hidden 32 audio recordings throughout the city, 84 districts need to be liberated from gang rule, and there are 350 Blast Shards scattered around Empire City. What I find interesting about all of these collectibles is the fact that none of them are hidden from you -- they all show up in some way on your radar.

The sound effect in Infamous is also top-notch. Instead of using traditional instruments, the team sought to use sounds that results from objects that would be found in an urban environment and using such objects in combination with other instruments used in non-traditional manners; for example, bungee cords were strung alongside a bass drum and strummed, and wire brushes were hit against a suspended tuba. Infamous soundtracks does a great job in providing tension and excitement and if you have a digital system the sound will sure add another level of appreciation for an already great game.

Being a superhero and stunts go hand in hand. When you pause the game, you'll see one of 21 stunts at the bottom of the screen. If you feel like it, or you are the constant trophy whore the -- it'll be your job to pull off each one of these moves that range from crushing an enemy with an object to simultaneously blowing three guys off a roof with the Shockwave to taking out an airborne enemy with a melee attack. Even though the game is telling you how to do the feats, some are very challenging.

My first play through of Infamous was a joy ride that I did not want to stop and when it did I was highly disappointing. Infamous is hands down one the best and most exciting superhero games to land this generation and any other generation. Cole's super powers are badass, the games story captivates and holds your interest throughout and then tosses a little twist at the end, plus the city is alive. I can go on and on, about my exploits as a superhero or super villain but it does not do a great game like Infamous any justice. To truly appreciate what Sucker Punch has created, you'll have to sit down and play this game.

Side Note: On July 29, 2009 it was announced that Sony had chosen screenwriter Sheldon Turner to adapt the Sucker Punch game into a feature film in a seven figure deal. Avi Arad and Ari Arad (who are also making an Uncharted: Drake's Fortune movie) will produce, and Sony executives Matt Tolmach and Jonathan Kadin are handling for the studio. “What excited me most about the game was it was the first of which I’ve come across that had a big idea and a character arc,” Turner said. “It is, I believe, the future of gaming. The game, while big and fun, is at its core a love ballad to the underachiever, which is what our hero, Cole MacGrath, is."



Graphics:A-
The graphics for Infamous does most things right with very few flaws. Great draw distant, great used of lighting and special effects. There is some slight pop-ups which happens but not enough to sway your concentration or fun. The frame rate is constant with a dip here and there but nothing that will distract from your enjoyment.

Sounds:A

Sound can make or break a game, in the case of Infamous the soundtrack does a great job of enhancing the overall experience in Infamous. if you are luckily enough to own a Digital sound system you will be for a real treat.

Gameplay:A

Controls overall for Infamous was dead on and very responsive. Cole can be a little too sticky but hey he is a former urban explorer. Pulling of your super array of powers is very easy and just as satisfying.

FunFactor:A+
This is were Infamous excels above and beyond most games. Infamous is a pure do not want to put the controller down exciting, joyous and fun ride. When it's all said and done you will feel like you are Cole MacGrath, a bike messenger caught in the epicenter of an explosion that devastates several city blocks of the fictional Empire City

Final thoughts:

Buy Infamous enough said.


Infamous HDVideo (warning: Spolier Alert please watch at your own risk):

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