[Editor's Note: I did not sign an NDA for this closed door session, nor was I told not to write my impressions of it. If this was something I was not supposed to write, I apologize fully and will take the necessary actions to remedy the situation. I was told ahead of time that if things were going to be under an NDA situation, I would be asked to sign a contract stipulating such.]
A city is hit with a blast that radiates around six miles in circumference. People are turning into something they’re not. The police are abandoning their jobs and staying hidden within their homes. The city has been blocked off by a fence that keeps the unknown virus contained and lets nobody leave. Gangs and addicts are organizing to take control of certain parts of the city, yet one man, one man survives. His name is Cole and within his body something is forever changing, evolving, turning him into something more than just your run-of-the-mill bike courier. Cole is the city's one last hope, the people's last chance at respectable life. Do you help these people or do you kill everyone mercilessly and without remorse? The choice is yours. It’s up to you to become famous or inFamous.
Now, I know a lot of people are anticipating this title and I understand full well that inFamous is in a very early development stage. It is because of this that I need you guys to take what I say and feel about the title with that in mind. Sucker Punch is at the first rung of a ladder and they still have a ton of climbing left to do before the game is finished. This was clearly evident to me today. To be quite honest with all of you, if I had one word to choose in order to describe the experience I had, it would be... lackluster.
Please don't take that the wrong way. I will say that inFamous has A LOT of potential to be something special. I am a huge supporter and fan of the Sly Cooper franchises and I have absolute faith that Sucker Punch will be able to turn out an incredible title come launch. However, as it stands right now, inFamous has a long way to go in becoming a stellar blockbuster hit.
The main character is a bike courier named Cole. As we know, he's survived the devastating blast and acquired supernatural powers. He has a couple of friends, including a potential love interest. And that's all that's known, and frankly, all there seems to be right now. Therein lies the problem; according to the guys at Sucker Punch, the gameplay comes before the story.
Now, I can understand and even agree that gameplay makes a title what it is, however I cannot say that I can agree that a title with a lackluster story can ever attain true greatness. This was almost the vibe that I felt from the designers as they discussed the product. Yes, it's an open world where you can play by your own rules and enjoy the environment for everything it is, unfortunately I feel without an engaging storyline that drives the gamer to progress and want to learn more, we’re going to end up with a less enthralling Grand Theft Auto IV.
Okay, so even though that initially sounds fantastic, how long did Grand Theft Auto IV really keep your attention? For me, the title became stale the moment I beat it. There is nothing exciting in that open world to keep you coming back. I feel inFamous may suffer from this same problem. Now that I have that out of the way, let me jump into the gameplay that I had a chance to observe.
I witnessed Cole riding along the top of a train, cruising through the open city, which, to the game's credit, was absolutely stunning. There was a great amount of destructibility present within the environment as well. If you want, you can destroy that environment from the top down, as Cole just happens to be a parkour professional; he can scale the tallest structures with ease. To interject, did I mention that Cole can use electricity as a weapon? Well, he can. Cole can utilize electricity in several ways. One of the most common uses is a powerful pulse attack that sends enemies and objects flying. There are also two other methods that were shown today; the standard ranged electrical attack and an ability which caused lightning to rain down from the sky (used to take out a mass of enemies or a tough boss).
Cole can also replenish his electrical surge by stealing it from his surroundings, whether via neon signs or other electrically surged items. This is pretty much all we saw of Cole, which wasn’t the most impressive element the game had to offer. The coolest part about inFamous was how the AI and pedestrians functioned around Cole. Sucker Punch described this as Cole's own “studio audience.” I couldn’t agree more.
The citizens of Empire City happen to be completely dependent and you’ll see them digging through dumpsters for food, gang jumping pedestrians for money or even just flipping cars and causing havoc. This is where the entire choices system comes into play as you’ll be given the chance to protect and save the citizens or just obliterate them along with the bad guys.
The only question left for Cole to answer is, "Why did I survive?”