Imagine a game in which you have super powers and you fight crime alla Spiderman, Flash, etc. while freely exploring a big open-world. That’s exactly what Infamous does. The game let’s you fight for the fate of Empire City, combining elements that we’ve seen in the superhero comics for decades. But Infamous doesn’t adapt any known superhero, instead creates its own universe that, at the same time, works as an homage to the 9th art.
If there is a single thing I would highlight about Infamous is how it makes you feel. Cole MacGrath, our protagonist, wakes up at the epicenter of an explosion in the middle of Empire City. He doesn’t remember much, but he can now manipulate electricity. This give Cole a series of powers that expand as you progress in the game. Since the first minutes of the game you will feel a sense of superiority over the rest of in-game characters.
When you fight your enemies you can unleashed lots of chaos and destruction. Combining different powers during your fights feels completely natural and organic and it is really fun. It’s important to clarify that the combat is shooting based, and most of the complementary powers are also long distance attacks. There is some physical combat involved but it doesn’t have much weight on the gameplay. I have no doubt that this is the biggest strength of the game. It translates perfectly the sensation of being a force of nature that is superior to his enemies.
Something that I would like to highlight is that your actions will give you points of light or darkness, like we’ve seen in many Star Wars games. This adds weight to your actions and can affect the way you fight. Will you fight your enemies without caring for the civilians in the area or will you move the fight away? What will you do with fallen (but alive) enemies and civilians? Cure them? Extract any remaining energy from them (causing death)? Or simply capture them? This morality system affects the way civilians perceive and react to you, as well as the powers and secondary missions that you have available.
Infamous is fun but is not perfect
Though I like the game, it is true that there are some flaws in Infamous design and presentation that area worth noting.
First of all, both story and narrative are far from great. The story is full of cliches and Cole is not the most charismatic guy around. The story is narrated mostly through conversations over the phone, with noise on the line and the noise of the city around. On top of that, most of this conversations happen while you do something else, so t is fairly easy to miss some parts. They top this with some cutscenes made with really cool comic artwork. Is a nice touch, but it felt somehow disconnected from the rest of the game. The story presents a final twist that creates an interesting starting point for the sequel.
In terms of gameplay, I have a couple of issues with Infamous. The biggest problem is that there is no real reason for Infamous to be open-world beyond the fact that is really cool to move around. There is nothing interesting to do besides the missions, so it becomes a huge hub to select levels while you collect some random, irrelevant stuff. My second biggest problem is that this open-world is overpopulated by enemies, making moving around very frustrating at times. Sure, I like the combat, but after 10 hours of game I don’t want to stop and fight random guys while I try to reach the next mission (on the other side of the frickinig city).
A minor issue that I’ve found a bit annoying is the climbing system. Instead of working like an Assassin’s Creed game where you just press a button, Infamous forces you to jump and jump and jump and jump… Gets tiring after a while.
Looking good, sounding weird
Being from 2009 and having in mind the size of the city, Infamous looks pretty good. Textures and models are a bit simple but they do the job. It’s worth noting that the overall design of the game and the palette used is a bit too dull. I think a more colorful approach would have worked much better. On the other hand, FX – specially the electricity ones – and animations are very good and they give place to some spectacular images.
When it comes to the sound Infamous is a weird game. Music is fine, though it doesn’t have much presence. Sounds effects are ok, but there area some weird ones, specially the one made by Cole while running. Is some kind of nya nya that doesn’t make sense and can be pretty annoying.
I think if you like superheros and open world games is almost impossible to get disappointed with Infamous. I think there are some design decisions that prevent the game from reaching its full potential but, at the same time, Infamous has some strengths that are difficult to ignore. Recommended if you like superheros and enjoy open-world games.