What once started off as a rarity in the world of video games open world sandbox type games have slowly become more and more prominent in the world of video games. As consoles have gotten more powerful they have become capable of producing some fantastic in-game worlds. These have allowed full-fledged open worlds to be fully realized in great detail. From the Spider-Man games of last, and current, gen as well as games like Crackdown and Far Cry 2 the games have gotten huge and very detailed. inFamous looks to continue this proud tradition with an interesting spin on the setting.
For those who haven't been paying attention inFamous details what is essentially an origin story. It tells of the coming out of a super-powered man starting from the catastrophic event that grants him his electricity based powers to what path he chooses to walk afterwards. The story is done with either static, comic-style, cutscenes with voice over's or told within the game engine through phone calls. Your character, Cole MacGrath, is more than capable of walking the path of a hero or villain with the citizens of the town reacting properly based on this choice.
Playing inFamous can best be summed up as GTA meets Assassins Creed. You are free to roam the city on foot or use your powers to help you move around but instead of jacking cars you have access to some pretty advanced parkour skills. For a bike messenger Cole is pretty awesome at moving around the city.
Jumping to a pipe, climbing it all the way up and then leaping from ledge to ledge to reach a roof is all pretty standard. While it seems like many of these moves defy gravity Cole isn't using any powers here just his natural skills. So far the only movement based power seems to be his ability to slow his fall using electrical energy allowing him to glide; useful but not the most necessary of skills for the most part.
As an electricity based character Cole has access to a variety of skills all working off that premise. From simple electrical blasts, explosive grenades formed of pure radiance and simple bursts of electricity that push foes around. There are additional skills based on whether you are good or evil aligned on the Karma meter. Good aligned skills tend to be more defensive while the evil ones are more aggressive. It also effects how your skills are used so while good aligned electrical blasts can knock foes down and restrain them with ease, evil aligned blasts will be more adept at flat out killing your foes.
One element of super-hero games that is often ignored is what you will do with your foes. inFamous addresses this in a pretty awesome way allowing you to choose what you do with downed gang members. You can either pin them to the ground with energy restraints or drain their life force to heal yourself. Obviously this affects your Karma meter as does helping the locals of the city around you.
For the most part inFamous has a great look to it. Some of the city environments don't look top of the line but this is obviously a decision to keep the frame rate from chugging. All of the character models look great and the city definitely looks like it has been totally leveled by the incidents that have gone on inside. Some might be inclined to cry foul at the game not using the PS3 to run a game as good looking as, say for example, Killzone 2 but when you see all the explosions and electricity going on without a single frame rate hiccup in sight it should be pretty obvious why they made this decision.
One aspect that makes playing inFamous just a little bit on the frustrating side is Cole himself. To be as blunt as possible… he's something of a pansy. It doesn't take too many bullets to kill him and the only way he heals is by finding an object full of electricity and drain energy from it to refill his health and electricity store. Since the city is thoroughly infested with most every enemy having a gun you can die jarringly fast. This is mitigated by plentiful checkpoints during missions but if you're the sort who gets annoyed with dying in game it can wear on you just a bit.
It's hard to really complain about any issues too much since we haven't seen what the full game has to offer. The story has promise to develop in some really interesting ways without getting too over the top. Plus any issues with how easily Cole dies off might be solved when actually playing the game. Things like learning curves and other such niceties are often lost when you're dealing with a game before it's released. As it stands, there is a lot of potential in this title and I can't wait to see more when it ships out later this month.