Home » REVIEWS » PS3 REVIEWS » Welcome Back Games – inFamous Review

Welcome Back Games – inFamous Review

Welcome Back Games – inFamous Review

With the PlayStation Store back up and running you’re probably trying to decide which of the free games Sony is offering you would be the best to grab. To help you out we’re posting our original reviews of all five of the PS3 titles being made available.


The stuff that electric dreams are made of…

What do Sony’s first and second-party exclusives all have in common? They’re all properly polished, because they’re essentially designed to showcase the hardware at its very best. inFamous, then, is a really weird game when examined in that context. Despite being fun, well-designed and a welcome departure from gangster-based sandbox titles, the game has obvious technical flaws that’ll genuinely taint your memories of playing the game.

inFamous’s opening cut-scene is the first baffling misfire – we’re told that our gruff everyman, Cole, is the survivor of a massive disaster, and that his newfound electric abilities have made him a threat to a society on the brink of collapse. Honestly, they feel like placeholder cut-scenes, harbouring terrible animation, awful dialogue and awkward voice acting that reflects a bare-minimum effort by the developer. In this respect, Sucker Punch should’ve tried harder, and at least fixed the weak voice syncing on the stilted character models.

Ignore the story entirely, though, and inFamous is an exciting superhero title that’s similar to the 360’s Crackdown, but definitely its own unique, fun entity. Cole’s electricity abilities grow as the game’s locale, Empire City, opens up. At first, he’s armed with electricity bolts and air attacks where he pummels the ground with an electrical blast radius. Later, he earns explosive electric grenades and long-range electricity, with his powers expanding from there in even more unexpected ways, rewarding the time you put into the game.

There’s a hammy karma aspect, too, where you’re presented with ridiculous decisions (kill a man or tell him his wife is dead, in order to open a door, for example) that determine the nature of Cole’s powers, as well as the way people in the streets react to him. The effect isn’t terribly significant. What’s refreshing about this mechanic, though, is you can interchange between good and evil (or vice versa) in a few hours, so there’s none of the forced multi-route replay value that Fallout 3 thrives upon.

Empire City is a beautiful place. True, there’s a grey coating that gives the city an arguably ugly look, and its citizens look rubbish thanks to some shoddy character models, but some of the vistas are the best you’ll see in any sandbox game, while the lighting effects and thickly detailed environmental art style do make it an often stunning sight. Plus, it’s just the right size. inFamous accounts for the fact that Cole isn’t a Niko-esque carjacker, with each of the game’s three islands varying in design depending on how easily the character can traverse the city at that time.

Navigating Empire City is one of inFamous’s high points – if mucking about is the aspect you value most in sandbox titles, we warmly recommend the game for this very reason. Cole can travel in several ways. He can scale buildings with a tremendously satisfying and intuitive climbing ability, then later grind along rails, power cables and wires, before finally attaining an incredible glide ability that completely opens up the way you interact with the environment. When you combo all three, then learn to attack while simultaneously travelling across the city at high speed, inFamous grows into a validating, absorbing superhero title with an unmatched sense of momentum.

The main game itself is quite erratic, however, often dragging Cole off of the atmospheric city streets and into the boring sewers to restore the city’s power. For some irritating design reason, Cole has to go underground to earn new abilities – the story missions never quite capture the essence of what inFamous means to us. Depending on your choices, it’s about liberating the city one region at a time, murdering everyone for the hell of it, surviving in enemy territory, stunt making or just collecting items. Sure, it’ll be dampened by weird AI, clipping bugs and the obscure animation of folks on the streets, but never to the point where you’re willing to give up on the game. Sucker Punch clearly saw variety as its strong suit, thus the well of cool and exciting ideas never depletes entirely. There’s always something new to kill a few hours with.

Imagine what’d happen if Activision decided to make a brilliant Spider-Man game – that’s really what inFamous is. It’s an experience that just celebrates the fact you’re a superhero, and for that very reason, it’s quite easy to love. Still, if inFamous could’ve ironed out the animation, story, AI and clipping abnormalities in just a few short months of extra development, we’d be able wrap up our verdict in completely positive terms. In the end, your enjoyment of inFamous will be measured by your tolerance of its unpolished state.

Final Verdict

inFamous is a weird game – it’s entertaining and well developed, but lacks polish. Even though it’s really enjoyable, for the most part, it’s great but feels rough around the edges.


Originally printed in Play 180

Similar posts