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inFAMOUS on PS3

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No one ever asked for an open-world superhero game, but with developer SuckerPunch having conjured up that and more with inFAMOUS, you can't help wonder why the heck we didn't. For inFAMOUS is an open-world game that not only understands the genre but emblazons it on its chest with pride and stampedes through the industry. inFAMOUS is a smart, action instilled title that delivers on almost every front, and I can't believe I haven't made any electricity puns yet.
The story opens with Cole MacGrath, your everyday bike messenger, standing ablaze in the center of a strange blast that has devastated much of Empire City, his hands and body alight and buzzing with electricity. Skipping ahead a few weeks, Cole is now mastering his electric powers, and making the choice between being a hero, or becoming inFAMOUS.
The story is something straight out of a comic book, buttressed by the vibrant comic book style cutscenes, which never lose their charm. However, as occasionally silly as the story gets, it feels grounded in reality because of Cole himself, who's character is usually well-written and believable as just an everyday guy who happened upon some super powers. Whenever he saw something ridiculous, like, say, psychic hobo trash monster things (no really), his dialogue would reflect my thoughts word-for-word. While I felt a few characters and story bits weren't entirely wrapped up to some degree, the ending is quite clever. The story is a compelling superhero tale and the prime cast of characters ground the tale at the player's level when it gets a little wacky.
The gameplay in inFAMOUS consists of collecting XP from defeating bad guys, doing missions, doing side missions, finding collectibles, and combining your lightning abilities, all so you can unlock and upgrade the coolest and most lethal powers, which have a good bit if variety to them, with different powers being only available to people playing as a hero or a villain, creating incentive to experience the whole game again as a hero or villain. The powers themselves are for the most part quick and equally useful for different combat situations, giving the fights a certain sense of flow to them as you try to chain certain powers effectively.
Getting around in Empire City is a blast with your electrical talents enabling you to glide through the air and grind on the power lines that connect the city, or maybe just hop a train. The key to a great open-world game is partly just 'getting around', and SuckerPunch nailed the movement there. The optional side quests that clear the streets of crime upon completion, while not always the most fun quests, have enough variety that you'll want to try and complete them all. The city itself feels quite lively, with TV stations giving coverage of the game's events, shoot-outs going down in the streets, people calling out pick-pockets, civilians cringing on the ground in pain, etc. The actual civilians however seem wooden, their animations stiff and their voice acting cartoonish, but they're easy to overlook. The game makes you feel like a superhero, and that's a very, very good thing.
inFAMOUS is almost built around a morality, or 'Karma', system, letting the player choose whether to be the hero of Empire City or the villain. It's fine in theory, but SuckerPunch goes about it the wrong way. Throughout the game there are choices, big and small, to be made that affect your status as either good or evil, and when you get to a certain degree of each the corresponding power upgrades. The problem is, most of the choices are so ridiculously black and white, with the 'evil' options being almost ridiculous in how cruel they are. The game even gives a pause to have Cole think about and discuss his options. There's no middle ground, as the best powers are reserved for only the most evil villain or the greatest hero. Being good or bad changes some minor events in the game, what powers you can get, how people react to you, the city's appearance, and your appearance, which is nice, I suppose. SuckerPunch's morality system works, and some may not have a problem with it, but it needs tweaking before it makes sense to be there.
inFAMOUS has a score that's good when it gets going, with good voice acting from the main cast. There's nothing all that glamorous to see here graphics wise, but everything holds up decently and the lightening effects at least look pretty flashy. The occasional glitch or camera freak-out doesn't hold the game back either.
If you've ever wanted to be your city's champion or drown it in crackling thunder then inFAMOUS is definitely for you: SuckerPunch delivers with a compelling superhero story, relatable characters, wicked lightening powers, and a big city to play with. The 'Karma' morality system is cartoonish and I'll be surprised if anyone plays through the game as the infamous villain and claims they were doing what was 'logical' for them, because then they'd be psychotic, but the greatness in inFAMOUS shines through despite its morality system. I still haven't made an electricity pun. Shocking I know.



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