inFamous: Better Than Crackdown

Sometimes the PS3 simply shines: whether it’s a nice new Firmware feature or an out-of-nowhere thing like VidZone it doesn’t matter – every now and again the big black box does something wonderful, and yesterday, when we all got to sample inFamous, was one of those moments.  The game’s been around, bubbling amongst the hype but never really given it’s own limelight since the big E3 reveal, but now the game’s out in the open we can finally talk about it and share our feeling on the PS3’s next big exclusive.

So, a game based around an electric-man, oh the puns. But let’s put aside the jokes for a second and get what you all want to know out of the way shall we? It’s good. In fact, it’s shockingly good.  Sorry.  Whilst this was already on most of Team TSA’s radars and was a likely purchase, after a couple of us spent a few hours with the demo yesterday evening inFamous has changed into a confirmed day one buy for all of us; so unless the full game rapidly declines in quality after the sections we got to play, you should be expecting a glowing review.

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Opening with some thunderous, ink-splashed graphical cut-scenes, we’re instantly excited. The demo itself is pretty good in length and does exactly what a demo should: provide a good taste of the full game. You’re given control of main character Cole with several powers already unlocked, battling through four different missions. Whilst your actions in the demo don’t have a huge effect on the outcome of your Karma, you are given the opportunity to test out both being a Hero and being Infamous. The differences between the two seemed primarily superficial, but without experiencing the changes throughout an entire campaign, it’s hard to tell.

Empire City – the San Francisco-esque fictional location – is fantastic; littered with plenty of convenient climbing points and a wonderful degree of variety whilst holding a good level of consistency. It’s filled with innocents and enemies alike and seems big enough to hold your interest for a while; with its sandbox nature allowing for enjoyment just from roaming around and causing immense destruction.  InFamous isn’t the best looking game on the PS3 – realtime cut-scenes are ropey and poorly animated, but the scope is immense when you consider the wider picture.

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Everyone wishes they had superpowers, the feeling of being special, being powerful, longing for meaning; well inFamous hits the target with critical effectiveness here. The destruction caused, the sheer power from your hands, the feeling of being superhuman, are all superbly channeled. Regardless of being good or evil, you feel truly powerful, a real bad-ass.  Wait until you try the deadliest weapon, a sixaxis-controlled whirlwind of destruction and graphical prowess.

The controls are slick yet simple and at no point did I forget how to pull off a Thunder Drop or throw a Shock Grenade. A fundamental component of the gameplay is the free-running and climbing which for the most part works brilliantly. Now and again it may focus a jump to an area of the environment that you don’t want to go for, but the majority of the time it was smooth and best of all, it was fun. Being able to climb up the side of a building, turn, aim and unleash a voltaic assault before continuing the ascent to greater heights, is satisfyingly easy, especially when you don’t need to worry about falling off.

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Whether the gameplay ultimately becomes repetitive or not will only be evident from the full release, but there was enough variety in the demo to suggest that this won’t be such an issue. Ultimately, inFamous is fun, the concept is great, it looks polished and controls brilliantly, and yes, from comparing demos alone it’s a better game than Crackdown, and we loved that game too. Electrifying.

Our thanks to SCEE for hooking us up with the means to get this one tested.  From the sheer amount of PSN messages we got between us last night we’re fairly sure you’re just as keen to get your hands on this as we were, so we’re happy to remind you that the demo will be available to everyone on the 21st as previously stated.

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