Monday, 21 February 2011

Infamous review

At a glance –
Number of players:1
Age rating: 16+
Format: PS3(Exclusive)
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Sandbox/Action/adventure

Empire city is in ruins after the outbreak of an epidemic, forcing the government to seal off the city and leave its inhabitants to fend for themselves. Luckily enough, you wake up with the power to manipulate electricity to your will. Do you lead the city to salvation with your newfound power, or abuse it and destroy anyone that stands in your way? This question is at the very core of Sucker Punch’s Infamous, placing you in the shoes of Cole MacGrath and leaving you to sort the mess left behind after the blast, one way or another.

Without going into too much further detail into the plot, your ultimate aim is to get hold of the “ray sphere” an orb that seems to have given you your powers in the first place. Your only lead is information fed to you from FBI agent Moya, who claims that if you find this item and save her husband, John, she will release you from the quarantine. So with Cole being the only human light bulb around, it’s time to set to work.

You’re introduced to the city from inside a colossal crater, at which you happen to be residing at the centre. The scene is but a glimpse of the entire city, which is a massive metropolis just waiting to be explored. You can quite literally spend hours swooping around, be it to grind some experience, find some of the 350 elusive blast shards to give you more energy or even just for the sheer hell of it, you’ll find hours have passed just seeing what the designers have created. It’s not without its flaws, as while the view distance is impressive textures occasionally fail to load clearly until your nearly upon them, which can take away from the impressive feel of the city at times. Regardless, the game detects what object you want to go to and takes you there, so while this takes away from some of your control it really doesn’t matter as it makes navigation faster, fluid, and outright fun. This can get annoying at times when you’re trying to be precise, but the benefits outweigh the downfalls by far.

The combat’s also brilliant, and while you start off with but a lightning bolt and blast wave it quickly develops to let you throw grenades, summon a temporary shield or even call down a lightning storm.
The game gives you new moves every time you bring light to an area of the city, and the timing is perfect in that it gives you just enough time to get used to your new power before giving you another toy to play with. You can blow up cars to deal with foes, shoot them off high buildings or even throw their grenades back at them – and the game rewards you for it with extra experience. The combat never gets boring, and it’s always a blast (sometimes quite literally.) Again, control issues can be found here and there. You could find yourself jumping off an edge when you just want to roll out the way, or unable to shoot projectiles accurately in a short space of time. Not something to worry about, but a minor annoyance that rarely takes away from the overall experience.

One great addition to the game is the karma system. You may be presented with the option to share supplies among the cities residents or scare them off and keep it all. This in turn makes you lean towards either side of the spectrum, and depending on what side you choose grants you different bonuses from trophies, cut scenes and even the moves you can use. While most choices are pretty obvious over which action will give you what reputation bonus, there are a few moments where the choice is a lot more vague. Besides small benefits like extra blast shards here and there, the main benefit of sticking to one side is how they alter your moves. He who supports the good might have only grenade at a time to ensure innocent lives are not at risk, he who would rather just create havoc can have as many as 7, creating widespread destruction with little concern for innocent bystanders. This means the side you choose affects most of what you do in combat, setting a real difference between the 2 ways of playing, even if the moves are still similar. This makes having another play through feels more worthwhile many other games out there, doing different missions and playing quite differently.

I’ve got to comment a bit more on the city itself – it’s gorgeous. You can see the effort was put in, and it’s a great place to explore, with detail everywhere you look. While you could complain it’s a bit drab in places, given the circumstances of the plot it’s fair enough. Even then, the luscious gardens or bright neon lights of the city aid to negate this. The sound fits perfectly with the mood, whatever it may be. Nothing particularly stood out as a masterpiece but the soundtrack manages to enhance whatever situation arises. The sound effects also impress, from the sheer power emitting from Cole’s fingertips to the simple swooping between buildings, every sound is satisfies by being just what you want to hear. While not perfect, Empire city is still a great place to be. When characters speak it hardly looks brilliant, but the models (especially Cole’s) are done very well.

So should you buy it? Yes. You’ll find yourself drawn in with no way out until the curtains finally close, and the games final plot twist leaves you baffled, and enjoy every moment until then, maybe even twice if changing your mood appeals to you. It’s definitely worth picking up, with potential for lasting around 40 hours if get all the trophies, and even then you may come back for a visit every now and again. It may not be perfect, but it’s still pretty damn good and worth adding to your collection.

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