inFAMOUS

aka: Infamous: Akumyōtakaki Otoko
Moby ID: 41369
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Description official descriptions

When a huge explosion tears down several blocks in the middle of Empire City, Cole MacGrath mysteriously is the only person to survive near the center of the detonation. However, he starts to notice an unusual change in his body, a supernatural power over electricity which he soon learns to control. By then, a sickness has lead the government to quarantine the entire city, enabling street gangs to overwhelm the police and establish a violent rule over the population and the increasingly scarce supplies. Trapped in a desolate city of people who hold him responsible for the explosion, wanted by the police and hunted by the Reapers who try to stay in control of the streets, Cole must decide whose side he's on. Will he use his new-found powers to assure his own survival and take revenge on the people that condemn him, or will he use them to gain their respect by aiming for the greater good? Will he become a famous superhero, or an infamous super villain?

inFAMOUS is an action game taking place in a free city environment. It takes a different approach to comic book style games by not giving players control over a powerful superhero, but having them fill the role of a regular guy who is just starting to discover his supernatural abilities. Through their actions, they are able to decide whether Cole will become a hero that the inhabitants of the city admire and look up to, or a selfish man who fights for his survival and that of his friends, even if it means the death of others. When encountering Cole in the streets, citizens react according to his reputation.

The game can only be played in a single-player story mode, where Empire City is fully explorable. A karma meter shows how many good and bad deeds have been done. Experience points gained in combat and upon completing tasks can be spent on improving Cole's control over his electric powers, where some improvements are only available with a certain amount or positive or negative karma. Relying on electricity for health and powers, Cole needs to recharge himself wherever he can find an electric current, which is made more difficult by the occasional power outages happening in different areas of the city.

Spellings

  • INFAMOUS 〜悪名高き男〜 - Japanese spelling
  • Дурная репутация - Russian spelling

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Credits (PlayStation 3 version)

555 People (479 developers, 76 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 85% (based on 92 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 2 reviews)

Sophisticated and entertaining

The Good
First of all, I want to say that I have almost no interest in comic books at all, I usually steer clear of any movies or games based on them because I don't like all too unrealistic, over the top tales of supernatural powers and stereotyped villains that never actually die. Because of that, I would probably never have played inFAMOUS, had it not been bundled with my recently bought PS3 system. I am very glad I did get to play it, because it is one of the most fresh and enjoyable action games I have played in the last couple of years.

While the story of Cole is indeed one of many implausibilities and supernatural powers, I was able to dive right in because it breaks with one genre convention: the clear separation of the characters into the selfless good, and the diabolically evil. It is the story of a regular man that discovers he has powers, and is unsure what to do with them. This very human perspective on sudden and immense power being given to an individual, a topic that has been discussed a lot in literature and movies, gives the game philosophical meaning and roots it in reality. Also, although the decisive moments are clearly described situations with either a good or an evil outcome, they are no simple questions of "be a hero" or "be the villain and see how that works out" as found in some other games that boasted this kind of good/evil character development.

One of your first decisions in the game will be: will you distribute a food supply drop among the population who mostly hate you for a crime you didn't commit, but some clown in the television claims you did - or will you keep the food for yourself so you can take care of your best friend and your girlfriend? You know what would be the right thing to do, but if you're honest, you might choose quite differently if you were in the same situation for real. This is what I want to make clear to people who show as little interest in comics as me: even though the game looks, sounds, and feels like a comic book, it does not contain most of the things that you might hate about them. The game relies heavily on them for creative inspiration, but it is just a theme and in no way implies that the game itself resembles a typical cookie-cutter franchise cash-in.

This also saves the game in the graphics department. A lot of games today are praised for their visuals, while all they do is show off every visual effect possible without even considering whether it makes any sense, or whether it destroys the atmosphere of the game. Exaggerated motion blur, bloom effects to the point where the whole picture is just a big, mushy blob - it might look good in a technical demo, but it's not pretty to look at in a game. Luckily for inFAMOUS, comic books can have over the top colors and effects. Make no mistake, there's always something flashing or glowing or rippling or blurring here, but it does not look ridiculous because the game doesn't try to be realistic in the first place. If the creators don't try to convince you that everything shown could happen for real, it is a lot less disruptive to see a man float in a sea of sparks while bridging a power line. But the visuals are also very nice artistically, beautifully conveying the picture of a dark, post-apocalyptic city. Empire City isn't that big, but you won't find hundreds of alleyways that all look the same. Every corner of the city has its own characteristic look. The stylized hand-drawn cutscenes are perfectly composed and a pleasure to look at as well.

Being able to freely move around in the city is one of the main features of the game. Just as in titles of the Grand Theft Auto series, the city will gradually open up when solving missions, which can be triggered by approaching certain areas or characters. And like any self-respecting superhero or super villain, you will mostly travel up and down buildings and across rooftops. To this end, the buildings are outfitted with ridiculous amounts of ledges, railings, signs, tubes, and other stuff you can climb or grab on to. Cole is very agile and can often jump and climb to the roof of a building using only window ledges. The developers stated that a great deal of work went into making sure that Cole will grab exactly the object the player was aiming for. I am glad to say that it shows, and scrambling around the city is a blast because it feels so natural. As a computer scientist, I can really appreciate the effort that the programmers must have put into this code.

The city is populated with a large number of people minding their business. Of course, they will react according to Cole's reputation in their neighborhood. If he has done some good work, citizens will cheer him on; if not, they might even throw stones at him! Apart from that, these people clearly exist in the world you see around them: trapped in a city with violent street gangs, a spreading disease, and not enough food. People kneel on the street, praying because they are so hungry. They sit on benches, being cold and shivering. They mourn friends they have lost, they cry and ask when all of this is going to end. Whenever you're taking a break from all your colorful ass-kicking duties as a superhero, you see a disturbing picture of a city in suffering and desperation, making for a really immersive experience.

Another strong point is how well thought out the aspects of electricity and Cole's powers are. Metal objects conduct electricity, and an always charged Cole gets shocked to death if he falls into water. Even when walking through a little puddle in the streets, you can see little electric arcs on its surface. I think it was a great decision to focus on just one phenomenon as the source of Cole's powers. Not only did it allow the creators to come up with all sorts of funny details, it also makes discovering new abilities more like seeing Cole gaining control over a power he already has, rather than just unlocking some new and unrelated feature.

Also, the aspect of reclaiming territory from the Reapers is fun. Having to go back and defend secured territory again every couple of minutes, as for example in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, is just cumbersome and not very enjoyable. You will not lose any reclaimed territory in inFAMOUS, which makes fighting for them a lot more satisfying. Territorial battles also integrate well into the game's storyline and don't feel like something that has been added just to prolong the game. You will complete different missions for each of the areas, instead of just repeating the same chore again and again.

The Bad
Some of the character animations are a bit weird. Especially running main characters move very mechanically. They move at a speed that is completely unrelated to the movement of their feet. It looks so out of place that it is impossible to ignore. I also didn't like that you cannot skip cutscenes. They are indispensable for the story of the game, but if you are retrying a mission and have seen it twice already in the last 5 minutes, you're not always keen on watching it again, especially if it's a minute long. Apart from these minor nuisances, I cannot think of anything negative to say about the game.

The Bottom Line
What inFAMOUS excels at is the most important aspect of any game: it is fun to play, and keeps your interest. Motivation is at a constant high because there is always something to do, it rarely gets repetitive, and there's always some new part of the mysterious story or the game world to uncover. In most games I reach a point where the story starts to drag along, the developers noticeably tried to just make the game last longer, and the only real motivation to keep me going is that I want to see how it all ends. inFAMOUS is one of the very few games that never stalled like that. Although of course after finishing the game you will want to play it again taking the other path, much more important is the fact that you will not simply do that to see the other ending, but because the first time was such a blast.

Fans of the genre will probably already own the game anyway, because of the exceptional professional reviews it got. If you are anything like me, however, and action-oriented games usually start boring you after a while, take my advice and give inFAMOUS a try anyway, it might surprise you. With no big flaws at all, the game can deliver its true potential as something more than just another superhero action game.

PlayStation 3 · by Daniel Saner (3503) · 2009

Sucker Punch's Electrifying New Entry on the PS3

The Good
From the creators of the 'Sly Cooper' trilogy on the Playstation 2, 'inFamous' is Sucker Punch's first endeavour into the seventh generation of videogame consoles, exclusively released for the Playstation 3 in 2009. It remains one of the most original and free-flowing sandbox games ever made.

The concept revolves around bike messenger Cole McGrath, who is tricked into making a delivery containing an electrically-charged explosive device which blasts the once thriving Empire City (fictitious) into an apocalyptic wasteland. Thanks to his girlfriend Trish's (who is a nurse) attention and help, Cole regains consciousness on day fourteen after the catastrophic event, which is referred to by the people of Empire City as 'The Blast', with new super power abilities powered by electricity.

Cole is soon branded a terrorist by the people of Empire City and by his friends and close ones as well, who begin to suspect that he had something to do with it. Trish, in particular, blames Cole for the loss of her sister Amy when she learns that he was the one who delivered the bomb. Despair, paranoia and chaos overcome Empire City. A plague breaks out, numerous factions are constantly competing for control over the game's three districts, and the authorities have seemingly abandoned the people. The player is tasked with the choice of the path Cole must follow, either good or evil, in his quest to find the truth, avenge himself or the people of Empire City and to unleash the full extent of his newly found super powers.

First of all, a super hero/villain, depending on which path you follow, who depends on electricity as the source of his power is genius. In the brightly-lit streets of the Neon district, the district the player starts the game in, you really feel like an electrified superman, even with so many enemies harassing you at every corner. However, as you progress through the game you can 'liberate' certain areas from enemy control by completing certain side missions, like destroying a fixed number of surveillance cameras or racing past and collecting information from satellite uplinks. 'Liberated' areas then start to be re-inhabited by civilians, for although the city has been significantly devastated by 'The Blast', the city's resilient citizens are keen to restore it to its former glory.

Later on, you get to throw shock grenades, summon lightning storms and fly using static thrusters (!), to mention but a few of Cole's amazing abilities, besides his normal 'jolts' (or lightning shots) which do not drain his 'energy'. By 'energy' what is meant is Cole's capacity to use these special abilities, which drain a certain amount of energy from him each time they are used. This forces Cole to be resourceful and recharge at every possible opportunity. And in areas which have the power cut off by the enemy, you really feel the difference and it just shows how much Cole, like the modern man, is heavily dependent on electricity.

The game’s style is probably one of its most redeeming features as well. It is inspired by the storytelling common in graphic novels, which perfectly suits this sort of super hero type game. And its characters also fit such a style perfectly. From Cole's best friend Zeke 'Jedediah' Dunbar's humour, to the main Villain Kessler's petrifying aura, 'inFamous' sets the standard for future super hero games.

As a PS3-exclusive title, it is obvious that 'inFamous' pushes the PS3's hardware to its limits. First of all, there are no loading screens throughout the game, and the game never lags even with ten plus enemies on the screen, numerous explosions and enemy gunshots, and countless NPCs helping and running away from you. A huge plus is that every time you die, you are immediately respawned at the nearest medical clinic, saving you a lot of time. The graphics were exceptional for the time as well, especially when it is sunny (during certain segments of the game the weather becomes very dismal). Looking at one of the game's vistas in the district of the Warrens next to a medical clinic, at one of the bridges I very laboriously helped to lower to connect the Neon and the Warrens districts together, made me more emotional than any game has made me feel for a long time.

The Bad
'inFamous', despite all of its redeeming qualities, does have both major and minor oversights.

Since the game allows the player to choose either a good or evil path, it challenges the player with some hard moral choices throughout the game. One of the most memorable is [spoilers ahead] when Kessler asks you to choose between opting to save Trish or to save six doctors, a typical super hero dilemma. Kessler also emphasizes the good that six doctors are able to do for the community and that there is no way to save them all at the same time. If you save the doctors, you are doing a good deed and is rewarded with Karma, and viceversa for Trish. However, the choice the player is given is ultimately gimmicky, as I learnt on my second playthrough of the game. There is no way you can save Trish, for example. If you decide to save the doctors, then Trish falls and dies. If you decide to save Trish on the other hand, it turns out that Trish is one of the doctors hanging from the other building.

The only choice that is given a substantial amount of significance is whether or not to destroy the ray sphere, the mysterious device that gave Cole his powers, near the end of the game. If you choose not to destroy the ray sphere, you are give some extra blast cores (sort of batteries enabling you to use more powers) and some more power, but this supposedly causes the death of thousands (the effect is not really felt) and Cole gets a permanent evil Infamous ranking, even if the player had been following the good storyline up till this point. That is clearly a minor oversight, because some people have commented that it is impossible to beat the game from that point with a new karma choice.

Also, it kind of sucks that the game is much easier if you opt to collect evil karma instead of good, because, instead of cumbersomely restraining an enemy every time, you get to drain his life when Infamous instead, which replenishes Cole's health and energy. Civilian casualties count in your favour when Infamous as well, while it is a real challenge to hurt as few people as possible with your attacks when following the good path. The only advantage I got is the personal satisfaction I felt after helping Empire City's community instead of crippling much more [spoiler end].

Another element that I dislike about this game is that you are forced to collect blast shards. Blast shards, charged remnants of 'The Blast', are scattered throughout the map and there are 350 in total. After collecting a certain number, you will gain an additional blast core. It would have been alright if they were simple collectibles, but you simply have to collect at least 300 if you want to beat this game for those blast cores, which is a very laborious task to complete. Take my case as an example. I have already beaten the game and collected all the blast shards, but I decided to play the game again. I was forced to collect all the shards again, which is a bother to say the least.

I did experience some minor glitches as well, such as falling through the ground, but beyond that there is really nothing else to complain about such an excellent game.

The Bottom Line
'inFamous' was PS3's 2009 game of the year in my opinion. Its critical success marked the beginning of an excellent series, which is well into the eight generation by now, and which I am sure will be around for much longer.

PlayStation 3 · by Carmelo Lia (42) · 2016

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Infamous appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Awards

  • AceGamez
    • 2009 - received the award for Best Original IP (Intellectual Property)* Game Informer
    • July 2009 (Issue 195).- won Game of the Month award* Gamespot
    • 2009 - received the award for Best Original IP (Intellectual Property) (Editor Choice Awards)* IGN
    • 2009 - received the award for Best PS3 Story (Game of the Year Editors' Awards)

Information also contributed by Big John WV

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Daniel Saner.

Additional contributors: MAT, Havoc Crow, Zeppin, Big John WV, Klaster_1, FatherJack.

Game added June 29, 2009. Last modified December 5, 2023.