I can't say this is strictly a review, since I'm not giving it a score and I'm forgoing mention of anything technical, good or bad, graphics and sound. If you want to know that stuff, there's a Destructoid review coming, plenty of video and a demo you can download if you have the system this is on. I also told myself that I was going to blog about anything else so I wouldn't have two posts talking about how Infamous is awesome touching, but that kind of fell through because I've been too busy playing Infamous.
Infamous is an origin story; the game covers the period that is explicitly (based on in-game information) the genesis of bike messenger Cole McGrath into the super-powered individual he is at the end of the game. Rather than start the game as an established hero, Cole is unknown; instead of the previous Spider-Man, Hulk and Wolverine games, in which the character starts at the supposed normal power level and increases, the game follows Cole's increase to normal. It has a great feel for an origin story.
Cole's powers grow over the course of the game and while new powers slow down nearing the end, I never felt like I was in the mid-game bullshit present elsewhere wherein you aren't unlocking anything new and all the upgrades cost a million more points than you have. The progression is also such that Cole starts out creeping along rooftops and transitions smoothly to grinding along cables to launch himself over buildings while blocking mounted machine gun fire with a lighting shield and blasting groups of enemies from rooftops casually.
Unlike Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and the latest Wolverine game, there actually is some sense of challenge and accomplishment. I can only speak for myself, but while both of those games were fun, I was never concerned about the chance of losing, nor called on to think past “press the button that hurts them”, which just happens to be every fucking button. I died plenty in playing through Infamous, and that's awesome. I was actually challenged. The only time I'm going to mention Prototype here is to relate my concern that it will be like that.
I played through twice, on hard FYI, each time going to one of the extremes for the moral alignment. The upgrades for each side feel unique. Good has the ability to endure and disarm; with lightning shots restoring energy and health, grenades automatically restraining enemies and the shock wave keeping them aloft and not firing for extended time. Evil gets wildly destructive powers, but until you have the shield and both upgrades for it, your only source of power is draining it from objects and people. You also are more tempted to throw things around, with cluster grenades, multi-projectile missiles, electrified shock waves and, my favorite, the arc lighting power that after 15 evil side missions makes weakened enemies (and any civilian caught in it) explode immediately. I eventually found myself not just catching bystanders in the crossfire, but actively moving to cut them off and use them as weapons.
The good and evil choices are all extremely obvious, shallow, clean cut and any other thing that could be bad if this game weren't already so comic-booky. You are not deciding anything remotely realistic; you are deciding between Captain America or Swarm. (For those that don't know, that's Swarm, a Nazi mad scientist made of bees.)
I love the cutscenes. Done in motion comic style and while I won't be in love with an actual comic using the style, I like them here and they really enhance the feel of the game. If Marvel didn't already have Electro, Cole would fit right in. In fact, he feels like a Spider-Man level character, a relatively small being in a big city, plenty of power but not enough for danger to be alien, and a slew of problems with his life related to the hero thing. The story is also pretty good if taken as a comic book story. It has some twists that even I, a reletively avid reader did not see coming and, knowing what you do at the end, a second playthrough has all sorts of "getting it" that the first time doesn't. Good and evil alignments have several different cutscenes and different dialog and, while the game follows the same general arc, you get "It was nice to be a hero" or "I fried a couple of them just so they would remember where we stand."
As usual, I'm going to skip the score. I don't think it's representative of quality. I think the fact that I accidentally was up until 5 AM Saturday because I put Infamous in my PS3 after FNF and couldn't put the controller down and then was up until 5 AM again this morning for the same reason is rating enough. Every time I though I would save and hit the power button after “this mission” I did something like get a 5-in-1 blow with a thunder drop then casually, not even turning Cole in its direction, throw up the shield as a junk monster launched a torrent of death my way. “OK, I'll do one more.”