Developer: Sucker Punch
Release Date: 05/26/2009
Available Exclusively On
I passed on inFamous back when it came out for many reasons. Open-world games were being pushed hard in the late 2000s and none of them were unique or interesting to explore. It was an excuse to add filler, and repetitive missions, and most of them just felt lifeless and empty. inFamous is no exception, but it’s not a bad game. Very few games could capture a fun open-world like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed, but at least Sucker Punch tried. The protagonist is a typical bald generic white male character with no personality. Cole McGrath is not a likable character in this game and he and all others are entirely forgettable. Cookie-cutter dialog to just barely get the story across. There’s no actual personality put into any of the characters. The voice acting isn’t bad, just not personable. The game focuses on a good vs evil aspect as this is supposed to be an original superhero game, but it’s binary. There’s nothing organic about it and it feels completely forced. Save the citizens by healing them or leaving them be, help a citizen fight off attackers or steal their shards and let them die. It’s a contrived concept that was done to death at the time and the game doesn’t have the depth of let’s say Mass Effect to allow a natural progression of good or evil.
Poorly implemented morality system aside, the game does do action and combat well. Your main power is a lightning bolt that you can shoot like a machine gun at enemies. This plays out like a third-person shooter and feels pretty good. Over time Cole gains more powers via underground generators that end up becoming pretty repetitive missions. You are in a dark sewer with various platforms and it’s just a training ground for using the new ability you acquired. Various abilities include a missile, shield, ground pound, force blast, sniper blast, and a few others. They are quite useful and feel good to use too. You do have an energy meter that requires recharging via anything that stores electricity. Walk up to a car, lamp post, electrical box, AC unit, etc. and you can absorb its power. Each item has different amounts of stored energy, but this will also heal you.
Enemies come in the forms of more genericness. Boring dudes wearing gas masks, trash bags, or red jackets all using machine guns or rocket launchers. There’s an occasional heavy enemy that’s a bit more unique, but there are three factions in the game – one on each island – and there are just variations of the same type. What gets frustrating about the combat is some times there are just too many enemies thrown at you. This can become especially annoying during missions in which you have to protect something and said object gets damaged super fast. You have to really be accurate with your aim, make sure an energy source is nearby, and utilize more area of effect powers first. Later on, you get a massive lightning storm ability that can be controlled with the Six-Axis motion and that’s useful for massive groups or vehicles. So, there isn’t too much strategy needed, but just in making sure you don’t die by prioritizing large groups first.
There really aren’t any boss fights in the game outside of maybe three including the end boss. There are about 40 main missions and most are rotated mission types. Protect this object, destroy this group of enemies, escort this person, destroy these vehicles, climb this large structure, etc. Side missions make up the bulk of the game and reward you XP for leveling up your powers, but it’s the same recycled stuff and there are so damn many of them. My God, there are at least 30 on each island. These are all the same 8-10 types of missions similar to main missions recycled ad nauseum. You’re either protecting something, killing something, or escorting something and it’s fine at first, but if you want to unlock Trophies this will test your resolve. I did end up finishing all side quests and most of the dead drops.
You can upgrade your energy meter by adding blips by finding blast shards, but these are spread out randomly and there’s no way to track them. Dead drops are tracked via pinging on your radar and aren’t too hard to find, but this leads me to the biggest quality of life issues. There’s no fast travel. Running around in this boring and lifeless world is bad enough, but it can take five or more minutes to get from one island to the next. You can ride power lines, but they are broken up and don’t all connect around the islands. This means running around on foot, but when I say lifeless I mean it. Pedestrians just wander around doing nothing and are just animations filling the world. Cars just drive in straight lines and don’t react to you. They just stop on a dime if you walk past them. The world is gray and brown and dull to look at despite how decent the visuals are on a technical level. There are no buildings to enter, no shops, and nothing that can be destroyed. It’s a very static world.
With that said, inFamous is only worth playing if you feel you need to start the series or want an older open-world game to play. The controls are great, and the gameplay itself is solid, but many quality of life improvements would have been nice and a more fun world to be in. The story feels too binary and in itself isn’t anything interesting or memorable. The characters are lifeless and generic and the quests get repetitive and annoyingly hard quickly. That doesn’t mean the game is bad, but just needs lots of improvements in the sequel. Cole’s powers are fun to use and the parkour and overall combat gameplay work well. There are too many side quests, it’s hard to find blast shards, and I did run into come crashes and glitches here and there.