Ron finally succumbs to his alarm's wail and hops out of bed. First things first: put on some shorts and head over to the computer to start the morning ritual. Gmail, Facebook, Cyanide and Happiness, etc. He always saves the one he spends the most time on for last. He heads to Destructoid.com. He doesn't bother look at the recent blogs on the sidebar, he finds it too depressing. He remembers what they were once. He doesn't know if he's the only one, but he knows that he still remembers.
The big news this morning is Microsoft boasting the XBOX 360 Slim's low failure rate. Everyone knows better though. Those numbers will climb with every passing month. Everyone's been here too long. Well, almost everyone.
Ron finishes reading the news and closes the browser. He heads over to his closet and tries to decide which of his shirts to wear to class. An old favorite seems to wink at him from the corner, and, for old time's sake, he feels he owes the shirt another wear. It's been a while, after all. Before tossing it on, he stops. He pulls the shirt from around his head and stares at the design for a while. He plops on the bed and stares, feeling what feels like a hint of a watery eye coming on. The robot Jolly-Rodger stares back at him, understanding his feelings. He understands why the man is feeling the way he does.
Ron never felt this way when he and the shirt first met. It had been two, maybe three years ago. The shirt, a majestic, limited run shirt boasted in fantastically stylized letters the words Destructoid.com. This was Ron's merit badge; his patch; his carrying card. He was a member of the Destructoid Army, and he wanted everyone to know it. Now, however, his feelings were not quite as strong. It seemed to him not much more than a place to get news and reviews that were less review and more witch burning. He used to be there for the community, but the community changed, no longer the thing it was in the early days.
Ron, finally fighting back his feelings and feeling foolish for feeling them, decides against wearing the shirt. Instead, he opts for the Destructoid beanie his girlfriend bought him about a year ago. It is cold after all, and wearing both of the items would seem like overkill. It's comparable to an emo kid and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Ron heads out, driving his car to campus and hitching a ride on the campus shuttle bus. Another student on the bus recognizes his hat, and introduces himself. "HI!! I'm Jeremy, but I'm _________ on the site!!!" Ron doesn't even bother listening to his alias, he knows he won't recognize it. He talks about the latest news with the guy. Ugh, thinks Ron, he's a fanboy. This guy is actually trying to defend the 360 Slim's failure rate. Ron has been around the site too long, and he remembers the trolls and the fanboys of days long gone. He knows to keep his mouth shut. He then asks the future Microsoft PR robot to change the subject, and he then starts talking about the C-blogs. the Micro-nut talks about the latest stories and blogs Ron didn't read, while Ron nods politely.
Ron has an hour to kill before his next class, so he finds a nice, quiet, Wi-Fi enabled spot and hops on the IRC chats, just for shits and giggles. He hangs out the the maniacs and perverts of old times past. He remembers what the site was like when they were there. They talk about it for a while, and they call it the "Wild West." Things were so experimental back then. You could get away with so much. You could be the biggest dick in the world and people would love you for it. Ron mentions Reaprar and, suddenly and abruptly, the IRC goes silent. BigPopaGamer is the first to recover. "I haven't heard that name in years." "No one has," replied the rest of the room. Ron leaves the chatroom, more depressed and nostalgic than when he entered.
Ron hops on the site and, just for the hell of it, decides to look at the C-blogs. There are some names he recognizes, some veterans, but he doesn't get the same feeling he used to get. It feels like they were the ones that stayed behind because they knew nothing else. The others took their allegiance elsewhere when the law came to town, but these poor souls stayed. They stayed but are the sole remnants of a lifestyle long gone, of a magic of community and brotherhood that is simply not there anymore. They are the addicts, trying desperately to to get just one more fix after the reservoirs have long since dried up. The others are here but are trying to keep their head above the crowd of children. The rest have taken their piracy and brotherhood elsewhere, trying to thrive where ever they can. Ron remembers the pride he had to think he was a member of something great, something greater than himself. But the bubble popped long ago, and the flood took the mirage with it. Ron wonders what all this makes him. A sad figure lurking in the background?
And then, in the dead of the night, a tear for crippled giants.
[Note: this is not a review of inFamous, it is a critical analysis in which I will explore the depth of the choices and themes presented in inFamous. This article contains many spoilers, you have been warned.]
Sucker Punchís inFamous in the wake of Prototype has been criticized for its approach to the superhero genre. Many have complained that they prefer Prototype because it offers the player the chance to feel like an unstoppable force, something inFamous failed to do. My response is thus: how can you fail at something you never intended to do in the first place?
The intent of inFamous is not to make the player feel like an unstoppable killing machine, its intent is to show the player the true nature of the superhero. The game opens with the main character Cole running away after an explosion caused by a mysterious device he accidentally triggered explodes in the middle of a highly populated city, killing millions. Fearing a terrorist attack, the US government shuts off Empire City from the rest of the world in a ďquarantineĒ that would have made JFK green with envy (thatís a Cuban Missile Crisis reference). Locked away from the world, the citizens become sick on a massive scale and violent gangs seize control of the city. Those who can help are doing everything they can, but itís just not enough. The city is in a state of anarchy and is getting even worse by the minute. Meanwhile, Cole, despite being at the epicenter of the blast, awakes with that ability to control electricity. After a short recovery period, he comes back into a world gone to shit. Itís Cole verses the city. Word has gotten out that he was responsible for the blast and the death of thousands, including his girlfriendís sister. Feeling responsible, Cole sets out to fix what he has done.
Then the game starts. Despite having the ability to send thousands of volts through anyone who looks at you funny, the gangs still control the city, and they are everywhere. Get overwhelmed and itís over. You are still very vulnerable and the gangs, seeing you as the threat you are, want you dead. The citizens hate you for what you have done to them, leaving you alone with only your best friend Zeke still on your side.
Your powers in the game are governed by a collection of power cores. Stronger attacks require these cores, which can deplete quickly in combat. Once they are gone, you can recharge yourself at an electrical source, but this takes time, and thatís not ideal while you are getting shot at. To get more cores, you must collect blast shards. Collect enough, and you get an extra core. But getting these cores isnít always so easy.
In one instance, you come across a citizen who has been collecting shards to keep them safe from the gangs. The gangs have caught on and are on their way to kill him. You must protect him while he sprints to the locker he keeps his stash in. After everyone is dead, he offers you a shard, but there are obviously much more than that in the locker. You are suddenly faced with a choice: take the shard and just be happy or kill the motherfucker and get closer to ultimate power. This makes the player re-evaluate their motivations: Is this guy really only gonna give me one fucking shard? Dickweed. I should just kill him and take them all. Wait, Iím sure heís got his reasons. Although, if I kill him and take them, I could use that extra power to save hundreds or even thousands of people. I guess you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Wait, am I really considering this? This guy probably has a family! This is insane!! But if I donít get those shards, I may not be powerful enough to save his family. By killing him, I could be saving everything he loves. What the fuck do I do? This is an issue that you as the player often have to deal with. Do you do something evil with the intention to do something good, or do you take the noble road and accept your meager reward? Thereís no fine line between good and evil, but there is a lot of gray.
The moral choices of superheroes isnít the only theme in inFamous. The personal effects of your actions also plays a large role. In the good ending of the game, Cole is completely alone. He saved the city from the brink of destruction, but lost so much in the process. His girlfriend is dead, killed by the gameís villain. His best friend betrayed him, defecting to the villainís side, fueled by his desire for power like Coleís. His ally and accomplice in the destruction of the Ray Sphere, which caused the blast in the first place, was killed when the Sphere was destroyed. His CIA informant had been lying to him the entire time, manipulating Cole into doing what needed to be done to keep the government from bombing Empire. The citizens love him, but who knows how long that will last. By rising up and protecting the city, he has become a symbol as well as a target. Terrorists will likely target Empire City again, and when that happens, will the citizens still trust Cole to protect them? He saved the city, but for what? He has no one, heís completely alone in the world. Heís a hero, but whatís the point. Thereís nothing left anymore, nothing for him to live for, no one to live for. He has sacrificed everything to save a city full of hypocrites.
In the evil ending, heís taken everything. The city lies in ruins. The citizens are his slaves. He controls everything and everyone. Heís completed what he accidentally started. He has ultimate power. But now what? What is there left? So I own a city, woopty fucking doo. I donít need anyone or anything, I have power. Lots and lots of power.
We may fantasize about having superpowers, but inFamous presents the argument that despite having that much power, you are still human. That maybe we are fine the way we are. Adding superpowers to the mix complicates things.
I think I may just wait until Monday to reintroduce the new and improved dTunes, so more of my favorite music for a while.
Also, to everyone who doesn't like the music I'm putting here yesterday and today and tomorrow, please reserve your judgments until next week. This usually isn't just somewhere where I dump my favorite music and ask you to listen to it; this series has a point to it, as you can see for my previous posts.
But rest assured, everything will be explained on Monday when I start a new theme and a new week.
By the way, any one have any ideas as to what I should use as the theme for next week? I'm counting on the vets who know what I do here for ideas.
Clutch - The Mob Goes Wild
Clutch - A Shotgun Named Marcus
Clutch - Escape from the Prison Planet
Clutch - Electric Worry
Not a personal favorite, but I thought some of you guys may enjoy it