So I’m gonna do this one, since it’s one of the most recent games I’ve completed and also one that actually left a fairly strong impression on me. Yeah, I know that the game itself is actually kind of old (like a year or something), but whatever, yo. Let’s hear it for…something that…is…ah, fuck it, let’s get down to the game.
Story first! InFamous takes place in the fictional Empire City, where you play as Cole McGrath, a bike courier who one day is given a package to deliver. Upon reaching the destination, he’s told to open it, and finds inside a device called the Ray Sphere, which then explodes, killing thousands of people and simultaneously giving Cole electric super powers. When trying to escape from the city, Cole meets an FBI agent named Moya who gives him an ultimatum: help her track down the Ray Sphere, another agent named John, and a group called the First Sons, and she’ll get him out of the city without any trouble. Thus, Cole embarks on a journey to restore the city, take down the gangs controlling it, and do some other things in the meantime.
This is an open world game, a type which I haven’t actually played in a long time. InFamous does an excellent job of taking this city, though, and making it into a fun place to get around. Cole gets a number of different ways of traveling the city, from running, jumping, falling, climbing, grinding along power lines, trains, and flying (hell yes). Traveling is fast and fun, and even if you go by foot it never takes that long to get anywhere, even if you do usually get stopped by a random gang attack.
Speaking of attacks, let’s talk combat. Cole is primarily a ranged character, though he does have a solid melee attack that can take out most enemies fairly quickly. You start out with a regular lightning bolt from the hand, and progress onwards to a shockwave that can launch enemies and objects into the sky, a shockwave when you drop long distances, lightning grenades, a lightning rocket-esque blast, lightning sniping, a shield, lightning healing, lightning life drain, lightning restraints, and a mutherfuckin’ lightning bolt from the sky. Most of these abilities can be upgraded with exp, but your upgrades vary on which path you take.
We’ll take a moment here and talk stupid moral choice systems. Yes, the game has one, and yes, it’s everywhere, god god dammit dammit. Most of the moral choices take place during your side missions, you’ll be presented with the situation and then a thing will pop up telling you which option is good and which is bad. Which at times is a little annoying, sometimes I wish there were some kind of other good or other bad option, but I suppose that’s nitpicking. The thing is, the good options are so selfless and good while the bad options are so childishly mean that it’s a little messed up. Plus, you don’t actually lose anything for alternating between the two, because you can do plenty of good or bad things outside of those missions to fill your morality gauge to full. Did I mention there’s a gauge? I bring it up because you honestly NEED to be all the way good or all the way bad in order to get all the upgrades. So you can’t just be like ‘well, I’ll take the good option here, but the bad option here’ because that just doesn’t work. All you’re doing is hurting yourself.
Speaking of upgrades, I kinda want to talk about those as well. Now, we all know that the games industry has some kind of hard on for evil choices. That’s practically why they made moral choice games, so that you can make those evil choices and get away with it. But in InFamous, the evil powerups SUCK. Like, suck HARD. Both the grenades and your rocket blast get the exact same powerup, and it’s not even a good one, it just causes more explosions after the fact of the original explosion, and by that point there’s no meaning to it because the target is already DEAD. In fact, all the evil powerups just cause more explosions in some way. By contrast, the good powerups are awesome. The grenades automatically restrain anyone, which is just free exp, the rocket blast can be redirected, the shockwave launches things further and in slow motion, and your generic lightning bolt restores your energy with each hit and HEALS you when you get a head shot. Holy crap. How is that not totally awesome?! The only thing that evil gets that good doesn’t is their evil-specific power, which is arc lightning, which is actually pretty awesome and is the fastest way to kill the final boss. Good gets some stupid charge up blast that just electrifies things. Bleh.
Alright, I’ve gone on long enough about your powers. Let’s talk side missions! Cause these are the brunt of the game, and you’ll spend a lot of time doing them. InFamous’s side missions are actually really fun, and what makes them cool is that they actually have a purpose in the game. They aren’t just ‘oh, here’s a little extra thing you can do to grind more exp’, they actually make sense in the context of the game. They vary from taking out a gang attack, saving some person on the street, escorting prisoners, killing prisoners, and solving mysteries to my favorite, recharging satellite hookups by zooming around town. Wheeeeeeeeeee! While a lot of these do just boil down to ‘go there and kill’ the missions are still pretty fun to do, and you get more than just exp for doing them. Each mission you complete will drive out the gang of that area, until you almost completely remove their presence from the island.
I feel I should backtrack here. Empire City is broken down into three islands, each with their own respective gang: The Neon District, where you start, which is full of…well, nothing that interesting, actually. Just some regular buildings and some other stuff. Nothing that great. But their gang are the Reapers, a bunch of former drug-dealing junkies who now sport these bitchin’ red hoodies with skulls and assault rifles. Wait what now?! These guys are all spindly and spit up this gross black liquid constantly, which has to do with their storyline (black liquid that makes people get sick and go crazy) and is actually kind of a cool effect if not a tiny bit gross. The second island is the Warrens, basically the slums, which is taken over by the Dust Men. Hold on to your seats for this, because this is where the game goes bonkers, because the Dust Men are seriously the homeless who all banded together, fashioned armor out of scrap metal and trash bags, got capes and assault rifles, and built scorpion trash monsters to terrorize the people. I want you now to go back and reread that sentence, because you probably thing I’m joking. I’m not. You fight hobos. In armor. And capes. WHY. At least in the third district, the aptly named Historic District, your baddies at least make some sense. You face off there against the First Sons, who are all gearing up for the steampunk age, because they all wear heavy long coats and gas masks. And of course have assault rifles. Everyone does, though, so that’s no shocker.
Also, each gang gets what is called a Conduit, which is apparently the term for ‘person who gained superpowers from the blast’, because it’s not actually explained in-game, the term is just thrown out there every now and then. There are regular Conduit baddies, which are just stronger enemies, and then there’s their leader. The Reapers get these awesome white hoodie-wearing baddies who can zip around lightning fast (har har) and unleash shockwaves at you while shooting you with assault rifles. The Dust Men have a giant hobo trash monster with a chain gun and boulder launcher (wtf) and the First Sons get a guy who…grows really large and stops around. Wow, how freakin lame is that? Oh, wait, that’s right, they also have an alternate version of that guy who instead cloaks himself and runs up to you with a shotgun to blast your brains out. That’s a little better.
So I guess I’ve talked about the game enough now, right? Well, let’s get down to it. Is the game fun? Without a doubt, I can honestly say yes, it’s fun. It was fun enough that I played through the game 3 and a half times, only because I first played it at Jose’s while house sitting and discovered when I tried to take my saves home that I couldn’t, so oh well, had to play through it again! But seriously, it’s a fun game. You get to run around and do all kinds of weird and cool things, and the story is well-executed. There are plenty of good characters in there, though honestly a lot of the villains get almost no screen time. The first one simply shows up and you really just have no idea who she is, but enough thinking, let’s get to fighting! The only one who gets any serious screen time is Kessler, the main villain, but I like what they did with him. He’s a fairly well-done villain, one who was more than just a bad guy by the end. He’s actually a rather chilling villain once you complete the game.
My biggest beef with a character, though, is your best friend Zeke, an annoying fat man who basically rides on Cole’s coattails the entire time after Cole gets his powers. Zeke is a disgusting man, made all the more so because he’s so realistic. He tries to use Cole’s powers as a way to make himself look good, at one point even making Cole help him so he can score with this girl. And while most of the town hates Cole in the beginning (y’know, cause he kinda blew up most of the city and everything), Zeke sticks with you, not because he’s a good friend, but because he doesn’t want to get on the bad side of the guy with lightning powers. He’s spineless and constantly tells Cole that he needs to find the Ray Sphere so that Zeke can get super powers himself, even though he knows that activating the sphere will cause another explosion and kill thousands more. He’s a dick, and it’s fitting that by the end of the game Cole is seriously reevaluating his friend.
Wow, so I’ve really gone on and on about this game. I guess I’ll taper off here. Going back to what I’ve said before, the game is fun! I enjoyed it plenty. Though it will hurt other games you play, only because you’ll get so used to the ability to see all walls as momentary delays in hurtling from one end of the city to the other as compared to actual barriers. The free running is fun and easy, it only takes a few seconds to scale a building, and the game is challenging enough that you’ll probably die but not so challenging that you’ll die all the time. But it really boils down to the style of game. If you like third-person action games with plenty of ranged combat (it borders on being a third-person shooter), like open worlds and choices, and like having super powers, then what more need I say? Even still, it’s a game worth checking out.