inFamous (Preview / Demo review)

inFamousWith the full game release just around the corner, it’s time to check out the hype with a look at the PSN demo of this electrically-charged open world action game based in a city after a huge explosion leaves it in chaos. On the plus-side it gave you electric super powers and the decision to be naughty or nice.

Sucker Punch are the dev team behind this and you might (bloody well should) remember them from the stunning Sly Racoon series on PS2. And like those games the cutscenes are shown via comic book style cells, which seem to be becoming the norm a lot nowadays. Is sexy CGI out now because of the recession or something?

Anyway, you start the demo with a few fleeting bits of text showing you a few moves and then you’re off. All your attacks are lightning based. You can throw lightning bolts (a close as it gets to a gun), lightning grenades, a sonic push and melee attacks all with large degree of vicious voltage, there’s also the leaping ground blast move (obviously). These moves deplete a power gauge that replenishes quickly (you may have to earn that quickness in the final game) over time or you can touch-up anything electrical to do it quicker.

Scaling up buildings can be quite fun, if there’s a ledge, you can grab it, it might not look too realistic but it’s nice and quick. Jumping is a little twitchy but the electrical glide ability allows you to float for more precision and extra distance.

There are a few control issues such as climbing up onto the railway tracks can be fiddly when trying to grab onto a pole or pillar as you sometimes need a second attempt. This could have been fixed with a ‘snap to’ button like in the Sly Racoon games.

Oddly enough climbing down is the other way around. When hanging from a ledge or pole and you want to drop down to the ground directly below you instead of jumping off in a another direction you can press circle to drop but you grab everything below, resulting in a series of up to four drops before you hit the ground. It’s like getting tangled up in a web while a suicide bomber is making a beeline towards you. Wait…what?

Yep amongst the scourge of red-hooded thugs are way too many crazed bomb-jacket fanciers that seem to appear out of nowhere. One direct hit is enough kill to you so try and put them down first, from a distance. Do not, repeat do not, chuck them a sticky lightning grenade then punch them. I may have panicked a little there.

The most annoying part of the game (and with too many others today) is the lack of a health bar. Instead the game favours the annoying display of red around the edges of the screen, then ever darkening black and white filling the screen. Great, because less visibility when we’re getting the shit shot out of us from an unknown direction isn’t annoying at all.

The hero and villain or karma meter is seemingly inactive in this demo as it doesn’t even twitch when you fry a whole neighbourhood. Instead, some of the missions on offer will adjust it to show off both sides of the scale. It becomes immediately apparent that badass may be the way to go with the more explosive attacks (at that point at least), plus your lightning changes to red instead of goody-two-shoes blue. You’re so evil at this point walking through the same puddle as civilians will electrocute them. Like I said, badass. If you do want to play the hero you can revive civilians that you’ll inevitably accidentally harm, or suck the life out them if you don’t. Finishing missions will clean up an area of crime with the promise that crime will not come back. Let’s hope so because coming back to push out invaders was annoying in San Andreas and Saints Rows 2.

There’s no boss battles on offer for the demo, but already the action and controls feel way better than Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which got boring very quickly. Let’s hope the missions involve a bit more than ‘defend this’ and ‘destroy that’ in the final game.

‘inFamous’ is released May 29th. Unless the Grammar Police put it in holding for stupid use of capitals.

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