Static Shock is all grown up.
There’s something alluring about being infamous instead of simply famous. 100 years from now when Jim Carrey is nothing but a forgotten footnote, people worldwide will still remember the name Genghis Khan. His life will still be taught in universities, his works carefully excavated, and new actors, yet to be born, will ride horses, their hooves thundering across the steppes, in whatever directly-jacked-into-the-brain technology has replaced movies.
[image1]That choice, to be famous or infamous, lies at the heart of the Playstation 3-exclusive inFamous, and the path you choose might say something about your psyche. [Duke is evil. But we already knew that. ~Ed. Nick] There’s also a bit of irony here, as the game most closely resembles the Xbox 360-exclusive Crackdown.
A devastating and mysterious explosion has rocked Empire City, and despite being at the heart of it, you somehow survived. You may have even been the cause of the explosion – you’re not sure – but that jerk on the TV sure thinks so, and many of the city’s residents seem unsure whether or not you are a terrorist. Either way, they’ll have a hard time arresting you as the explosion has also endowed you with superpowers.
Regardless, the population already has their hands full with other problems, because there’s also a plague. Oh, and some sort of black-tar mind-control poison is being pumped into the water by some chick who can speak directly into your brain. She also controls one of the city’s three warring factions, the Reavers, twisted humans endowed with minor supernatual powers. There’s also the Dustmen, a violent gang of homeless with the magical power to animate garbage. Finally, the First Sons are sort of an Illuminati-like cult who are seeking an ancient artifact called the Ray Sphere, which might have caused all this mess to begin with. Maybe. You’re not sure.
Anyway, as a ex-delivery guy named Cole, you have your own problems to deal with. You get ordered around Empire City on different missions by an FBI agent (maybe), your pudgy best friend (who might be lying to you), your bitchy ex=girlfriend, the chick who talks in your head, and an NSA agent (again, maybe). Okay, so the bizarre hodge-podge of a plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but you have superpowers and a huge, open city to explore and do whatever you like, and that’s fun, right?
[image2]And it certainly is fun because one of your superpowers is the ability to run, jump, and climb more nimbly than a cat with a black belt in Ninjitsu. You can scale the tallest skyscrapers with ease, dart along power lines as if you shoes were a skateboard, and survive any fall without a scratch.
If that weren’t cool enough, you can also drain power sources into your battery-like body and then shoot electricity out your hands. Naturally, then, many of your missions are sensibly to restore the city’s power grid, as that is you main source of, well, power.
Frying Charging yourself in the giant underground electrical conduits which fix the power grid also leads to new powers, while killing enemies for XP lets you upgrade the ones you already have. Eventually, you’ll be gliding on electricity, grinding on rails, hurling all manner of charged grenades and missiles, and even calling down lightning from the sky onto enemy trash monsters.
Empire City is a gritty, expansive playground where you can roam around to your heart’s content. You cannot drive because apparently cars explode when you get in them, but your nimble prowess and electrical powers get you around quite nicely. Side missions are plentiful and slightly varied in terms of you needing to concentrate on offense, defense, a little stealth, and even racing. Completing most of these will clear and essentially purify a portion of the city, and your enemies will no longer be present there (once again, exactly like Crackdown).
Many missions will also make you more good or evil, either by their very nature, or by the solution you choose to solve them. Like Knights of the Old Republic, the new powers available to you will depend on how good or how evil you get. Unfortunately, this only gives the illusion of choice (beyond your first choice at the beginning), because the strength of your powers and even being able to use them at all depend on becoming really, really good, or really, really evil. Push the needle back in the opposite direction and you’re just hamstringing yourself.
[image3]Difficulty varies wildly, from you seeming to be invincible, to you feeling the pangs of instant death when you peek your head around the wrong corner. This can get a little frustrating at times, especially if you respawn at the opposite end of the city from your target, but it’s not a game killer.
Graphically, inFamous is quite pretty in a dystopian way, and from the high ground, the city stretches impressively like a gritty, modern Assassin’s Creed. Cole doesn’t climb quite as smoothly as Altaïr, but the array of ledges, pipes, beams, and other objects he can grab onto is almost as impressive. Plus Altaïr can’t shoot lightning out of his hands.
Once again, like KotOR, Cole’s appearance changes based on his morality. He grows more handsome and upright, positively glowing with healing energy if he’s heroic, or more bent and diseased looking
Dark Jedi with his hands crackling with red force lightning if he’s "infamous".
Voice acting is competent, even if the plot makes no sense, and cut-scenes are all done via comic book stills that remind me of those in The World Ends With You.
But the real reason to buy inFamous is that, regardless of your morality, it’s just plain old fun being super-powered Cole in a city full of helpless mortals. And if you’re a 360 owner lamenting the PS3 exclusivity, don’t worry about it – just go pick up a copy of Crackdown instead.