InFamous is a dark and mature superhero game that provides plenty of fun gameplay and a compelling story as well.
GAMEPLAY (9.0) - The game wastes no time in getting right to the action. Cole, a basic delivery guy, ends up in the middle of a huge explosion in Empire City, somewhat similar to New York City. Not only does Cole miraculously survive the explosion but he finds that he has acquired some incredible abilities through the use of electricity. Very fortunate for him as the city, which is made up of three islands, has been quarantined and the local police are heavily out numbered by murderous gangs that are slowly taking over. Although he was just the messenger, Cole is initially believed to be the terrorist who detonated the package in the city. It's the player's choice in how to proceed and this is where the twist comes in. Nearly every action and choice can push Cole towards being either "a good superhero", "an infamous anti-hero" or something in the middle. The path chosen determines a lot about what happens in the game, from the powers obtained, to the story path and missions available, and to how Empire City perceives Cole, This is an open world sand box style game where Cole can roam around the world and pick up missions in his travels. There are main missions, side missions, and all sorts of things to keep busy. The side missions like many sandbox style games can get repetitive but the story based missions are usually quite varied and intense.
The game takes on a very smooth, 3D platformer style of gameplay reminiscent of Sucker Punch's Sly Cooper games. By jumping repeatedly while pushing towards any solid object Cole can climb poles, trees, towers, light poles, buildings, bridges, etc. no matter how small or tall. He can also glide for short periods of time, shimmy across ledges, slide along wires or rails, ride on/attach to subway trains, defensively roll and take cover. The way Cole transitions from one piece of the environment to another is really impressive as it's just so effortless and easy to control. The only problem arises when the action gets frantic and Cole is just trying to dodge away from attacks. He naturally sticks to any nearby walls or objects and this sometimes keeps him from going where the player intends. Fortunately this did not happen enough to become a major issue but there where times when it would have been nice to turn off his natural pull towards objects. Cole has many powers at his disposal and he becomes more powerful as the game progresses. He starts with a simple punch/kick melee combo attack, and a directional gun-like lightning attack. He very quickly gains a shockwave "push" attack, sticky static grenades, a ground shaking thunder drop, a long range precision sniper attack and others depending on his good/evil ranking and game progress. Players will certainly find some of the powers to be more to their liking than others but all of them are fun to use and usually have specific situations where they will come in handy. All of these powers, both good and evil versions, can be upgraded 3 times by trading XP points. XP is earned by doing quite a few different things such as completing a mission, killing an enemy, the method used to kill an enemy, performing a combo, helping innocents and so forth. The story and side missions are clearly marked and it's never a mystery as to what needs to be done next. The varied missions range in difficulty and length and while sometimes challenging they aren't usually overly frustrating thanks to the generous checkpoints and supply of electric sources to recharge health/powers. Additionally the game has a few extra quests to partake in such as finding blast shards which provide Cole with more "battery life", and locating satellite dead-drops which help unravel the story with audio recordings.
GRAPHICS (9.0) - For an open-world game with a living environment InFamous is an impressive looking game. The city has a very gritty, realistic look which on the one hand may make the environments less interesting to look at but it is certainly appropriate and is very detailed as well. There is a bit of pop-up but only when you are rail-grinding the train tracks or flying over the city in the chopper near the end of the game. At normal speeds and altitudes the draw distance is exceptional with no glitches or draw-in. The animations of Cole and the other inhabitants of the city are done quite well. Every building and structure in the city needed to be constructed to make them climbable, yet impressively none of the architecture comes across as tacked on. The textures and lighting is also surprisingly good considering the game's scale, and most of the special effects generated by Cole's powers are fun to watch. The story scenes are told in very stylish animated digital comic clips, and while I would have preferred more cinematic scenes it does fit in with the superhero theme.
AUDIO (8.5) - While I didn't find InFamous to be a game that was particularly memorable on the audio side, it did have some nice elements. The music varied depending on the missions and I found most of them to be pretty catchy tunes that fit the mood. Cole's gruff voice pretty much fits his character and his buddy Zeke provides a little comic relief. The many citizens of the city will make various comments that fit in with how Cole chooses his good or bad path. The various super powers have decent sound effects, with the lightening storm being especially impressive.
VALUE (9.5) - Assuming one isn't just trying to rush through the main story as quickly as possible, InFamous should provide plenty of gameplay hours. While I did not spend that much time going out of my way to find all 350 blast shards, I did complete all of the side missions as I was progressing through the main story, and while some of them are repetitive I never felt like it was a waste of time and for the most part they were a nice break from the main story missions. Depending on the amount of time spent away from the main story it should take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours to complete the game. While there isn't any multiplayer there is a huge incentive to play the game twice to see what the different powers and experiences are available when making opposite decisions from the first playthrough.
SUMMARY - Give credit to Sucker Punch for creating a game that not only has many hours of fun gameplay but provides an intriguing story as well. The characters have depth and will make the player emotionally invested in a story that has plenty of twists and turns, including a startling revelation at the end that I have to admit I never saw coming. Whether one chooses to play as a superhero or super villain, InFamous is certainly a game that every PS3 owner should experience.