Superhero games have been a staple of the video game industry for years. From Spiderman on the NES and X-Men on the SNES and MegaDrive, to the awful Fantastic Four games on the PS2, all the way up to the upcoming Spider Man for PlayStation 4, they have been there for every generation.
That doesn’t, however, mean that they are all worthy of being there. There have been some truly awful superhero games to come out, like the aforementioned Fantastic Four on the PS2 and, who could forget, Superman 64 on the Nintendo 64. Just the thought of that game makes me shudder. The silver lining to these horrendous games, however, is that they make you appreciate the good ones even more… Such as InFamous.
InFamous is basically an origin story for a Cole MacGrath, the main character of the game, and his various superpowered enemies. It opens with Cole, a delivery man, being caught in the epicentre of a massive explosion of energy that levels an entire section of the city, killing hundreds of people. He survives and finds that he know as electrical-based powers that can be charged up by draining the electric of nearby objects. Using these powers, he escapes the ruined section of the city, only for the rest of the city to be quarantined.
Over the next few weeks, chaos takes over as gangs begin to take control of each district of the city, so Cole decides to take matters into his own hand, along with his best friend Zeik. Zeik acts largely as the sidekick due to not having any superpowers himself, giving you hints and advice on how to proceed. Eventually, this leads to an escape attempt alongside other citizens. The citizens are mowed down by the military, but Cole and Zeik manage to survive. It is here where Cole is hired by the government to stamp out the various superpowered gang leaders.
As an origin story for a superhero (or supervillain depending on how you play), InFamous is probably one of my favourites… And I was a big comic book fan as a kid. The fact that it deals with the way people view and react to having Cole around, and looks at the way his life and relationships change in a relatively realistic fashion, is a huge draw for me. It doesn’t feel “over the top”, which is surprising for a superhero or villain storyline.
Also, the fact that you get to choose whether Cole becomes a hero or villain is a really nice touch that does actually affect how parts of the storyline play out. Whilst it may not be the most in-depth, and no one will ever compare it to the likes of Mass Effect when it comes to morality, it does a very good job of weaving an exciting and exhilarating storyline that gives just enough choice to offer some great replay value.
In terms of controls, InFamous plays very much like your typical third-person superhero action game. It is an open-world game in the same sense that Grand Theft Auto is an open world with sections blocked off until you unlock them. You are free to parkour your way around the cityscape, completing a variety of story missions and side missions. In an effort to “clean up the city”, you can complete side missions for both sides of the morality scale, taking back the city from the various gangs one district at a time. This feels a lot like the Gang Wars gameplay mechanic of GTA San Andreas, except that once you have taken over an area, it doesn’t come under attack again randomly.
Combat basically involves fisticuffs with your enemies, as well as utilising your various electrical abilities. These range from shooting constant streams of electricity from your arms like a machine gun to launching an actual lightning bolt from your hands that explodes to electrocute nearby enemies. The depth of customisation for your skills isn’t incredible, but it is definitely enough to make you feel like you are progressing and growing as a character.
The bosses also offer some very fun challenges, with some involving platformer style mechanics added to the mix, whilst others feature more “run and gun” gameplay. Sadly, you’ll often find the action interrupted by Quick Time Events, which is probably the biggest flaw in the gameplay. But overall, InFamous is one of the more entertaining superhero games out there in terms of actual gameplay.
Consider InFamous came out on the PlayStation 3, it shouldn’t be surprising that the graphics are very good. After all, it was released in the first HD era. This meant that the character models, animation and world were all really well designed and looked outstanding when InFamous was first released. However, unlike some of the earlier PS3 games, InFamous actually still looks really good today.
That may sound strange to say since it is an HD game, but I find that HD games tend to age quicker than the older, standard definition games. This may be because HD technology and graphics in games move so fast that the earlier HD models and worlds seem to become vastly out of date at a much faster rate. InFamous doesn’t suffer from this as much as other games from around the time. Instead, it still looks really good today. There are some jaggy edges compared to current generation games, but for the PS3, it really isn’t that bad at all.
I also didn’t notice any framerate drops either, which is a big win for the developers. All in all, InFamous looks amazing for its age, in terms of animation, models, world and the graphical interface as well.
And That’s All Folks
InFamous is one of the best superhero games out there. It’s not on the level of the awesome Spiderman 2 for the PS1, but in terms of the origin story and gameplay, it is a brilliant example of what a superhero game can be. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for with exciting combat, entertaining parkour and an immersive storyline. The boss fights suffer from annoying Quick Time Events, but they are still hectic and you’ll be on the edge of your seat when fighting them, and the fact that you have to take the city back from the gangs is a nice touch.
Have you played InFamous? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!