inFAMOUS (Retrospective Review)

In 1997, a little game developer called Sucker Punch Productions was founded. However, it wouldn’t be until September 23 of 2002 that they would create their first big hit, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. Two sequels later, Sucker Punch decided to take on a drastically different, and much more ambitious title; inFAMOUS. Since then; Sucker Punch has released the sequel, creatively titled inFAMOUS 2. Does the original hold up well enough that players interested in the series should pick it up first?

inFAMOUS puts players in control of Cole Mcgrath, a bike courier in the fictional “Empire City”. After a unfortunate series of events, he finds himself wielding electrical powers, along with the duty of saving a entire city.

The combat is smooth as silk, and has many dimensions. From calling thunder down from the sky to punching thugs; inFAMOUS really has it all. Shooting lightning from your hands adds a sort of shooter aspect, while the close quarters combat plays like some of the best beat-em-ups. Other powers the player obtains throughout the game add even more variety, but I won’t go into those to avoid spoilers. Also, the karma system in the game awards players with either good, or bad karma exclusive attacks and powers.

Cole also just so happens to be a master of parkour, which of course means the player gets to jump from rooftop to rooftop zapping dudes without a care in the world, at least…. for the most part. The platforming in the game is good, but flawed in a few ways. For instance, when you jump towards a ledge, Cole gets a magical extra bit of oomph. This extra bit of gravitational leeway sounds good on paper, but as players will find out, Cole likes to grab onto everything he jumps towards. It also seems like at some points, if you have to make a long jump towards a moving object. Cole will somehow either go through the object, or sail straight over it. There are very few instances where this causes problems, but it’s annoying enough to note. Overall the controls are pretty tight.

One thing to note though is the saving/checkpoint system. When you start up the game, no matter where you saved before quitting, Cole wakes up on either a bench, or a couch. It seems like whichever is farthest from your objective is where you’ll end up spawning. Just a small little nit-pick, no biggy.

The graphics on this title, although drab, look fantastic. The textures all add depth, and for lack of a better word, texture to the environment. Although the environment is mostly filled with dark; unattractive colors, they contrast very well next to the bright electrical sparks. However, the fact that the PS3 doesn’t have hardware anti-aliasing is very noticeable, so be prepared to see lots of jagged lines on screen. Have no fear, you’ll forget about them sooner or later.

Cole’s animations are beautiful. Jumping, running, punching, it all looks very exaggerated, but in a good way. However, most of the NPC animations are very awkward and twitchy.

The game runs at a average of 25-30 fps on my PS3 Slim. It constantly changes as items appear and disappear on screen. In some alley ways it jumps up to 60 fps, and everything looks fantastic, it’s almost a bit of a disappointment to walk out of the alleyway onto the street to see the sudden slowdown. In heavily populated areas, or areas with seven plus enemies firing at once, the frame-rate can drop to as low as 15 fps, this is especially frustrating during combat. Again, don’t worry, you’ll adapt and grow to hardly notice it.

inFAMOUS has a great score and all the sound effects sound how they should… well, except for Cole’s shoes. Apparently they’re new because they squeak like there’s no tomorrow. Anyways, Cole’s voice fits his character fairly well, maybe a little more gruff then I would have made him, but there’s nothing wrong with it. One of Cole’s companions in particular has the perfect voice; he delivers hilarious and dramatic lines without a hitch. Overall, most of the voices are very natural sounding. The sound effects for explosions and electric strikes sound great too.

For the action/open-world/superhero genre, inFAMOUS brings some great depth to the table. It didn’t take long at all for the game to make me feel like a part of the world, and to feel a bond with all of the characters. As a result of this, the karma based decisions are tough to make, as some decisions will put the characters you’ve grown to care about in harm’s way. It also does a great job of making the villains seem ominous.

In the end, inFAMOUS is a great package. Although it has a very highly praised sequel, it would be in gamers’ best interest to play this first. Not only to understand the sequel’s story, but because inFAMOUS is a game well worth playing on it’s own. And with the multiple endings and the open-world full of collectibles. inFAMOUS will have gamers busy for quite a while.