Culture

Not yet Famous

Avoiding any vulgar innuendo in this post about a comic book-inspired game, let me tell you why I can’t wait to become infamous.

Coming from the successful studio behind Sly Cooper’s devious capers, Sucker Punch, you take control of the electrically-charged Cole in the open-world superhero serial, inFamous. I’ve been a comic book-lover since the first time I saw the animated (and live action) escapades of Batman & Robin on TV when I was about four. The animated series of Spider-Man, X-Men, Silver Surfer and Marvel Action Hour all quickly forward, along with toys, costumes and comics. My brother and I use to play Batman Forever: The Arcade Game – which isn’t the greatest side-scrolling beat-’em-up, but boy we sure played the hell out of it back on PS1, Spider-Man (PS1), and a host of other comic book-inspired adventure games. Spider-Man 2: The Movie, I’d even go so far as to say, is one of the greatest superhero games ever and holds a special place in my gaming heart.

Sufficed to say I pretty much ‘geek out’, for lack of a better term, when stuff like inFamous is announced. Complex characters dealing with real life social problems juxtaposed with the complete destruction of an urban city and one man with the power to either help or hinder its residents. I can see why people are already calling comparisons to NBC’s much loved Heroes series, but there is a lot more to inFamous in my opinion.

The very nature of this being an open-world (or ‘sandbox’ if you prefer) game, and a superhero one at that, gives it tremendous potential. I’ve never really been into Grand Theft Auto but the appeal of driving around an environment at your own pace, doing whatever you feel (within the context of the game) is hugely enjoyable. I must have played Spider-Man 2: The Movie for many, many hours just swinging around New York, webbing up thugs and rescuing balloons. After a while though I will admit things begin to tire.

With inFamous, if the developers can balance the factors of story driven motivation and freeform gameplay with a broad selection of challenges to undertake, this may be a whole new shock to the system just waiting to be unleashed. Being a fan of Sucker Punch’s earlier work on PS2 – following the cartoon crimes of Sly Cooper and his gang – I also have great expectations for what set pieces and events may unfold in Empire City. I’m not at all trying to second-guess the developers by plotting out my hopes for the game before I’ve even played it, but my observations of their previous developments give me bit of an idea of what we might see.

With the Sly Cooper games Sucker Punch was particularly good at creating open-world hub levels and making use of them in the context of actual gameplay. For example, in Sly 3 there’s a hub world set in the Australian outback. Over the course of several jobs you complete a lemonade drinking contest (hey, it is E rated) in the local bar, steal keys from patrolling guards, destroy some polluting vats and then proceed to crush half of the world you’ve been traversing with a runaway bulldozer. While the PlayStation 2 hardware certainly had its limitations, in terms of scaling, drawl distance and graphical effects, Sucker Punch did everything they could to connect the separate elements of their worlds and make them fun.

If anything, their love for comic book artwork and stylistic character design alone would convince me to buy inFamous. All of this and I’ve not even mentioned the story. An explosion destroys half the city, and now Cole and bunch of criminals are running around with superpowers. Cool! Seriously though, the trailers and gameplay movies that have been released look phenomenal. Killer beasts made out of junk and scrap metal, exploring the city with Cole as if it were an oversized jungle gym, drawing power from the city’s electric grid and tossing shock-bombs at enemies. Yep, I’m totally wired for some inFamous right now. June can’t come soon enough.

2 thoughts on “Not yet Famous”

  1. madtyger says:

    I am very excited to see this game on the PS3. Lightning has always been one of my favorite elements and I love opened ended worlds. In a time where comic movies have been consistent summer blockbusters, I wonder how a comic book style game (that’s not even based on a series) fair during the same timeframe. I’m happy to see more and more PS2 developers make the jump to the PS3 and see how well they fair. inFamous so far has looked amazing and I’m sure the gameplay will be very solid as well.
    My only concern is the simple fact that when columnists and game critics mention inFamous they can’t help but mention Prototype as well. Though only seeming to be similar on the surface, both games have very different styles and gameplay mechanics. With Prototype being a multi-platform game, I hope that inFamous won’t be lost in the hype.

  2. DK33 says:

    Assuming SCE’s marketing teams in the US and Europe don’t undersell it, I’m hopeful that the general public will see inFamous for what it really is. Prototype may be looking great technically, but the main character, and story to that extent, just seems way to sadistic and unlikable. Plus looking back on summer 2007, plenty blockbusters came out (that weren’t all terrific depending on your taste) and they all made some kind of splash – at least with their target audiences. SCE have a really great opportunity here to grab that blockbuster summer spot with inFamous. They just need to show people exactly why inFamous is that much better than Prototype, if they’re released in parallel.

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