If you were suddenly bestowed with superhuman powers, what would you do – use them to right wrongs or embark on a rampage of destruction? That’s the moral decision at the heart of inFamous, an action game from Sucker Punch Productions, only on PlayStation 3.
You control Cole MacGrath, an athletic courier caught in the middle of a gigantic explosion, levelling six blocks of Empire City. Miraculously, he survives and discovers that he can emit bolts of electricity from his fingertips and survive huge falls.
From there, how Cole and his story evolve is up to the player. You’re free to run across the city, using his free running abilities to climb just about anything with ease, taking on missions, fighting with the red-hooded Reapers or – if you’re taking the darker path – terrorising pedestrians.
Accompanying you throughout are your best friend Zeke, your girlfriend Trish, a mysterious FBI agent called Moya and a whole cast of weird and wonderful characters that may be friends or foes, depending on how you approach the game.
The game’s story missions usually involve moral choices decide whether you become a hero or a villain. In an early example, an angry mob has gathered at a heavily guarded road block, which you need to get through. You could electrocute a few civilians to spark a riot, distract the guards and slip through, or, if you’re feeling noble, you could take on the soldiers on your own and preserve the crowd’s safety.
Your decisions are reflected on the Karma meter, which ultimately decides not only how your character behaves and how the public react to him, but also which powers you are able to develop and upgrade. Acting selflessly gives you access to more precise attacks, whereas selfish behaviour unlocks more powerful but less accurate powers that damage to the surrounding city.
Side missions also contribute to your overall Karma and provide XP, which is your currency for unlocking and upgrading powers. There are plenty other things to do on the side too, such as searching for Dead Drops – video files that reveal more of the story – and attempting stunts, which include shooting a Reaper while airborne and getting a headshot while grinding on a rail.
Each time you upgrade a power it has a dramatic effect on the gameplay as you’re able to wade into larger battles against tougher opponents, and those Reapers that caused you problems earlier can be thrown into the sky with little more than a thought. Learning new attacks, along with a gripping story, is what keeps you going through the action, as each one you learn completely refreshes your approach.
inFamous brings explosive superhero action to PS3 and gives the player a great sense of freedom, not just in terms of where they can go and what they can do, but in how the story, the characters and the world they inhabit mould around their decisions.
The unlockable powers constantly force you to change your approach to combat, while an unpredictable story, a pulsating soundtrack from Amon Tobin and impressive characterisation bring the action to life. After their PlayStation 2 success with Sly Cooper, Sucker Punch Productions has created another PlayStation hero in Cole MacGrath.
Check out the trailers on PlayStation Store for a look at inFamous and try out the demo, only on PS3.