Friday, June 05, 2009

Infamous (Playstation 3) - Review


I got around to finishing Infamous this afternoon. I only completed it once, focused as a 'good' character. I suppose there's a lot of replay value to be had in this game considering it can be played as an 'evil' character, too.

When I first fired up the game, honestly I was not very impressed by the graphics. On my setup which is running at 1080p with HDMI, I could see a whole lot of jaggies, and the framerate is incredibly inconsistent. Many times throughout the game, far-away objects are obscured by this horrible layer of grey smog, perhaps to hide a layer of pop-in with the textures and polygons. On my first five minutes in, I almost gave up on even trying to like this game.

A day later, I decided to give it ago and try to finish the game, despite my dislike for the graphics. Upon finishing it today, I realized I made a good decision there. While Infamous's graphics leave a whole lot to be desired, particularly lacking in good anti-aliasing and draw distance, it does succeed as a game....it does a lot of things right with the sandbox genre and the game does have that addictive 'one more mission' effect on players.

The gameplay and pacing in Infamous never gets boring. You're always caught up in a firefight, or trying to find alternate ways to get to your destination. Given the city in the game is quite massive, there's a whole lot of options available to you, particularly when your powers improve and you get the ability to hover, or grind on electric wires. A slight frustration is the inability to hijack vehicles....perhaps the developers did this to distance the game from other similar titles like Crackdown or Grand Theft Auto IV. I have a feeling the inevitable sequel will have some kind of vehicular driving element, though. It's just the one thing that could have made traveling around the city much easier.

A lot of options are available for the player to explore the world....you can focus on the main story, which I did; or you can be a completionist and go for the side-quests. Some side-quests are inherently 'good' or 'evil' in nature, and completing them has some kind of effect on the city itself. For example, if you complete a 'good' mission, enemies will no longer return to certain sectors of the city, which will make it more peaceful for citizens. If you play as a benevolent 'super-hero', the NPCs around you will start adoring you, taking photos and chasing you around to compliment you. It doesn't seem to have any real effect on the gameplay other than being an aesthetic, though. I can't really say because I haven't played through it as an evil character yet. Maybe it's harder to get around town if you're evil since the cops will go after you, and citizens will probably stone you (hmm, maybe I should get around to playing it again).

But, for the most part, playing through the game as one side gave me a pretty good experience. The missions in the game are fun and creatively made. There's a lot of carnage in a lot of them, especially when you get your powers upgraded. You'll be tossing around cars, people and debris in no time. The framerate takes an extreme hit when you're really throwing out all the effects of your powers, though. It gave me a slight headache because the action was getting a bit inconsistent and lacking smoothness graphically. But the game was still playable, even in this state. It's just that if you expect 60FPS out of every game you have on the PS3, this isn't the one you want. If you can cope with sub 20 FPS drops when the action gets serious, there's a pretty great game in Infamous that you can enjoy.

The story in the game is enjoyable, but to be honest, I really didn't like how it ended.

*SPOILER WARNING*








Suddenly bringing up TIME TRAVEL and having it explain why events unfolded the way they did, didn't really sit too well with me. For example, why would future-Cole (Kessler) kill present-Trish? Isn't that a bit too much of a leap in character, considering that future-Cole establishes that, it seems he is a 'good' character to begin with? Of course it's possible the trauma of having what happened to him in the past, could have affected his morals....but it just seems ridiculous for him to subject the present version of himself to the same kind of trauma.

Furthermore, if future-Cole (Kessler) had the power to travel through time, couldn't he easily go back to the exact spot where 'the Beast' had been created, and destroy him from there? Or couldn't he easily have stopped the research of the First Sons completely? Instead, inexplicably, he helps them develop the raysphere. If he really wanted to stop them, that's NOT what he should have done.










*END SPOILER*

Reading a few forum posts earlier (before trying the game) made me hope the story would be good. In a way, you probably could think that the story is a bit creative. But I don't like how that one story element explained in the spoiler above just comes out of nowhere in the storyline. It seems there's no build-up at all for it, it just happens. Perhaps they wrote the story that way to setup the inevitable sequel; already they've put in a new antagonist for the next story, and you already have some idea of how the next game will be laid out.

The journey through Infamous was undoubtedly fun, though. The gameplay does work well; despite the framerate drops, it is possible to compensate for it / get used to it, and play the game enjoyably. There's a lot of action in the game, and some pretty big battles peppered throughout the main storyline missions and the side-missions, making it one of the more memorable releases on the Playstation 3.

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