Review: inFAMOUS

Sucker Punch, best known for the Sly Cooper series, gives PlayStation 3 owners a treat with the recent release of inFAMOUS.

inFAMOUS places the player in the role of Cole, a bike messenger in Empire City, who gains electricity-based powers after being duped into delivering a mysterious bomb that kills everyone in its path except Cole.  Cole must then free the city from the gangs which have taken over, all while discovering the secret of the package.  The game plays like a combination of a run-and-gun shooter, a platformer, and an open-world sandbox game.  Not only are there the typical story-focused missions, but also optional side missions the player can complete to liberate sections of the city from gang control.

"I knew I should have checked if I had my train pass...
"I knew I should have checked if I had my train pass..."

The story plays out through a variety of phone calls between Cole and his various contacts–such as his friends and outside government help–and comic book-style cutscenes which Cole narrates.  The characters, which seem very generic at first, develop into very interesting people the player actually cares about, especially during the tragic twists in the plot.  The side missions range from the typical “clear these enemies out” to Metal Gear Solid-like sneaking missions, and make Empire City feel like a real city.  Many of both the story and side missions include “Good” and “Evil” choices Cole must make which affect his overall “Karma.”  The only problem with these choices is how clean-cut they feel.  Most of them involve Cole either walking away from a situation or helping out in a skirmish between two fighting factions.  However, these clean-cut choices could be a parody on comic book superheroes in general.

The missions not only provide the karma for Cole, but also experience points the player uses to upgrade Cole’s abilities and gain new ones.  These abilities include both ones that Cole can use to attack enemies, like an electric orb Cole fires from his hand, and passive skills used to help Cole through his journey, such as decreasing the damage Cole receives.  Various “blast shards”, electricity-enhanced pieces of debris from the explosion caused by the package, are located around the city for the player to collect.  The collection of which increases Cole’s power meter, which directly effects how many special abilities Cole can perform before needing to recharge at the closest power outlet.

Graphically, the game looks very good, especially the electricity effects that come from Cole’s body.  It is outstanding to see Cole engulfed in bolts of electricity while riding the rails of the train tracks that line the city.  Cole “parkours” around the city, much like Altair in Assassin’s Creed, and fluidly jumps from rooftop to rooftop along with climbing up various ledges and poles.  The character designs fit the comic book feel of the world, looking realistic and human, but not too realistic.  The only problem with the character designs is how the characters almost look like ventriloquist dummies when they are talking, but this is only a minor detail when compared to how good the rest of the game is.

For anyone looking for the next great game to buy for the PlayStation 3, this is it.  inFAMOUS is an incredibly fun action game that combines elements from platformers, open world sandbox games, and run-and-gun shooters.  It is a gorgeous looking game, minus the mouth movements of certain minor characters, and the controls work wonderful for how fluidly Cole moves around the city.  This is a great game and most likely an early contender for Game of the Year.


  1. This certainly is a fantastic game, probably my favorite this year so far. I’ve spent months waiting for the PAL release of Star Ocean 4 and upon its release I just so happened to pick up Infamous on a whim. As a result Star Ocean 4 remains largely unplayed, Infamous is the most fun I’ve had with a sandbox game since Bully. The superhero genre seems to be the perfect match for sandbox mechanics (it’s a wonder no one thought to put the two together sooner), I think there’s a good chance that I’ll pick up Prototype when I’m finished with this.

  2. SN – Well it’s been THOUGHT of before, it’s an entirely other question as to if it has been done well before.
    People generally cite Spiderman 2 as a decent sandbox superhero game. I haven’t played much of it, and I’ve only seen footage of inFAMOUS, but the latter really seems to be doing the much better job from what I see and hear.

  3. THis is the one thing I hate about games that tout “moral choices.” Morality is rarely so obvious, often the subject of great debate, and almost universally ignored by real people. It’s sad that the game went this route, becuase there was some real potential there. Better not to have them than to have them so pedantic and insulting of the player.

  4. Well to play the devil’s advocate, people running around a city with electric powers doesn’t happen either.

  5. I havn’t been able to play this as much as I would like due to Uni work, but so far the moral options have been implimented reasonabley well. For instance there’s one occaision where you have to destroy a machiene dispensing toxic sludge into the cities water supplies which will spray all over you and make you sick, you can either do it yourself or force a civilian to do it (which I found amusing). Likewise there’s a point at which you need to get past a police blockade and can either attack them head on or start a riot. I’m glad they included a morality system (which directly effects what abilities you have access to), as it makes your actions more meaningful and creates replayability, have you played it MC?

  6. SN – Haven’t had the chance yet. I’m just disappointed that the moral choices aren’t deeper and don’t go beyond black and white. Is it so wrong to want some shades of gray? Hell, InFamous REQUIRES you to be one or the other completely in order to get the best powers from each tech tree. It’s just pathetic and lessens the open world potential.

  7. Yeah, I’m looking forward to playing inFamous and Prototype soon, but from what I’ve heard the morality system is unimpressive. The demo was fun, though, so I think I’ll be more than willing to overlook a few “save the orphans or kill this adorable kitten” type choices. I think I may enjoy Prototype more from what I’ve heard about the variety of powers you get, though.

    As for other games that play on this concept, I’d say Crackdown is the first “super-hero sandbox” game I’ve played that did the concept justice (can’t attest to any of the Spiderman games, since I never played them). After that, I just felt underpowered playing GTA IV.

  8. Honestly I’m glad the morality system in in there, it’s nothing special but far from pathetic. And to be fair it isn’t so much black and white, it’s more like shades of grey and white, often times both options will have you doing the right thing, but one will have you as the squeaky clean boyscout while the other will have you as the ends justify the means utilitarian. In the end does a sandbox game really need any more than this? Do most sandbox games even bother with a morality system? To me it feels like a mechanic which lends a little extra depth where none is required, so all to the good I say.

  9. @DarthGibblet-GTA4 was fun for a while but it couldn’t hold my interest. My favourite sandbox games are Bully followed by Infamous, though as I mentioned before I have yet to play Prototype (the reviews seem to be really polarized, especially on the 360, but IMO it looks good and excessively brutal).

  10. @SN Yeah, I can relate about GTA. I’ve got a save game that’s a good chunk of the way through (I think about 30 hours-ish), and it was always fun while I was playing, but I never found myself sitting around thinking “Hey, I want to play some GTA”, which is my measure of a really good game.

    I didn’t mean to knock the morality system in inFamous, you’re right, it’s certainly something the game would have been fine without, so adding it in is just extra icing on an already polished-to-extreme-shininess game. It’s just that’s the biggest complaint from everybody I’ve heard talk about the game, so it’s what sticks out in my head, deserved or not (although the fact that such a tiny nitpick is so highlighted is probably more a testament to the game’s quality than anything else).

  11. Yeah but how many of the people who have complained about it have actually played the game, and how many have formed the decision from reading reviews? It seems like the sort of complaint that reviewers come up with when they can’t find anything to criticize, well that and the crippleing slowdown, which inexplicabley is nowhere to be found.

    An oh yeah your experience with GTA4 perfectly mirrors mine, I never regret playing the game but after a while I just lost all motivation to keep playing.

  12. My problem with GTAIV is how Niko never grew as a character. He just became more and more of an asshole with every mission.

  13. Yeah true, that game was full of characters that I should have built varying levels of attatchment to, but didn’t. IMO the characters made you too painfully aware that they were just game mechanics designed to facilitate missions, as opposed to games like Bully where some of the relationships you built fealt like they mattered even after there corresponding mission had been completed. And of course none of this ever seemed to phaze Nico, I can’t even remember his responce to finding out his GF was a cop, which is a testement to his characters emotional range.

  14. He had range! The “GF was a cop” cutscene is the one scene where is response WASN’T to shoot everybody in the face.

    @SN’s earlier comment about who I heard about inFamous’s morality system from, it was people who played the game, but it’s all been reviewers, so your theory’s definitely valid (I listen to a lot of podcasts and none of my real life friends have the game yet. I obviously need better friends :f). It does have a definite ring of “I need to criticize something about this game.”

    Oh, and it looks like inFamous is $10 off on Amazon if anybody’s interested. I’m tempted to pick it up, but I still need to finish Red Faction, first. Maybe this weekend…

  15. This is like Uncharted all over again, sometimes reviewers just want to cut a game down, which has little to do with its inherent quality. All of the forum chatter I’ve come accross has been very complimentary (sans MC) towards Infamous.

  16. @SN: I remember when Uncharted came out that reviewers were ACHING to find something bad about it, so they made fun of Nate Drake’s character design. Which isn’t really that bad!

    @DarthGibblet: Is that the new Red Faction you’re playing? If so, how is it?

  17. Well, That whole thing with Uncharted was back when the “PSthrees got none gaems!”.

    It would be to jarring for the Internets to find out it had good games on it. They had to wait, to gradually easy that fact into peoples minds.

  18. SN: Woah, nelly, I’m just reacting to Nate’s review. I’ll have a more fleshed out opinion when I have it in my hands. And, make no mistake, the game looks like tons of fun. But, and again we’re judging based on what Nate wrote, it seems as though the moral choice thing was thrown in to have something on the back of the box. I’d PERSONALLY rather they made him a hero and let me go through the full skill tree. Not every game NEEDS moral choices.

  19. MasterChef: I still think the two sides to the moral choices thing is a parody on the whole comic book idea of only good or evil. The good thing about the game is that you can play as good through the whole game up to even the last mission, but then say “Hey, I think I want to be evil now” and easily bring your karma down to evil by killing a few civilians.

  20. @Bup: Yeah, I picked up Red Faction: Guerrilla last week. So far it’s a lot of fun, with a few weak points. The Geo-Mod 2.0 engine is pretty spectacular and by far the best part of the game is taking apart buildings one chunk at a time. The gunplay’s pretty good too, but it’s set up so that you’re not a one-man invincible death machine like you are in most action games. If you try to take on the entire EDF army, you’re gonna get flattened really quick, so it really encourages “hit-and-run” tactics (hence the “Guerrilla” part). I’m enjoying the multiplayer a lot more than I thought I would, too (it’s nothing TF2-level, but it’s fun and the backpacks are a nice new mechanic I haven’t seen before). There’s also a lot of variety in the side-missions, so there’s always something else to do if you’re stuck on a particular story mission (which has happened to me occasionally).

    There’s a few downsides. The driving’s pretty floaty, which makes some driving missions kind of infuriating, and I’ve had to use trial-and-error to get through a few of the missions. The story’s just a pretty weak premise, but it pulls you along well enough. Oh, and the “money” you use to purchase upgrades isn’t as plentiful as I’d like, but that might just be me.

    All in all, I’m really enjoying it. I think I’m about 20 hours into the story and I’m not really near the ending yet, so it’s got a decent amount of game packed in. I think 1up gave it a B+ or A- or something around those lines. Hope that helps, now time for bed :F.

  21. I got Prototype today, and after playing several hour of it I can say with some authority that it’s nowhere near as good as Infamous (though it does give you a little more guilty pleasure).

  22. I actually ended up ordering inFamous from Amazon this morning and my girlfriend picked up Prototype from Best Buy, so I shouldn’t be running short on open-worldy super hero games any time soon :D.

  23. Prototype is a fine game in its own right, it just lacks the polish of infamous and its controls are not as accurate.