Picture this: you’re a mere bike messenger in the fictional metropolis of Empire City, and you’ve been tasked with delivering a package. Unfortunately, the special delivery explodes in nuke-like fashion, leaving you as the only survivor in a six-block radius -- much of which now comprises a crater. You awaken a fortnight later to a post-Katrina New Orleans redux: the city has been quarantined, resulting in mass chaos, and in the power vacuum that follows (most of the cops have been killed), local gangs battle for control of the city. Oh, and by the way, you have electricity-based super powers.
Game director Nate Fox looked on as I played through the game, providing commentary, advice, and explanations. The first mission is a tutorial that has you practicing your lightning bolt aim on mannequins atop a building -- you’re in the rooftop pad of Zeke, a fellow bike messenger that mooches off your powers (and is somewhat jealous of them). Zeke, lazy-ass that he is, wants you to recharge the car batteries that are powering his appliances, including his TV. Once it’s back on, it plays a video from a masked figure -- according to Nate, in the post-blast environment, citizens have taken to hijacking TV broadcasts to let people know about things such as government food drops.
Upon getting to the food drop, you find a large gathering of starving citizens, and they’re looking skyward. It seems that the pallet of sustenance got stuck on a high billboard, so it’s your job to go get it down. I climbed up a pole and then blasted away some rusted metal, which allowed the food to resume its descent. Unfortunately, once it reached the ground, a gang showed up, presumably looking to abscond with the rations and leave the famished denizens to die.
You don’t start out with a good rep, since early on, a video that circulated around the local TV stations showed the package exploding in your hands -- Empire City blames you for the attack, and your girlfriend, Trish, leaves you to work as a guerrilla medic. But it’s through decisions like these that you can alter the course of the story. If you choose the selfish option, you’ll see manifestations of the city’s hatred for you in things like wanted posters with your mug on them (in addition, residents will pelt you with stones when they see you).
By the time we made it to Trish’s stash, I collapsed; when I came to, she sprayed me and said I’d be on my own the next time. I found another water main and turned it off, getting the black ooze in my face again; this time, though, the effects were lessened -- perhaps Trish’s repellent prevented the full effects from setting in. I had my powers back, so I headed into a tunnel full of Reapers and burning vehicles. Frying the cars helped a lot, since they exploded and killed some enemies, but I couldn’t make it past the hallucinations when they reappeared further into the tunnel -- and this time, they could hurt me.
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