Inspired by superhero comics, Infamous was released in 2009 for the PlayStation 3 after developer Sucker Punch Productions and publisher Sony Computer Entertainment teamed up. Infamous would introduce us to Cole MacGrath and leave his fate up to the player on whether they turned him evil or good in this third-person adventure as Cole begins to take control of Empire City. Would Cole and his new powers wow me or would Infamous be a dud?
Our hero, or villain depending on the way you play the game is Cole McGrath, a regular dude just trying to survive as a bike messenger in Empire City. He receives a job to deliver a package with instructions to open it. The package explodes destroying many blocks of the city and crumbling buildings. Cole is barely alive when he is rescued by his friend Zeke and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Trish.
Soon, Cole discovers that he has gained mysterious powers mainly in the form of electricity from the blast. It is up to you on how you proceed but the story remains mostly the same with a few exceptions depending on if you turn Cole evil or if you act with morals. With the explosion crippling much of the city, looters, rioters, and thugs start to overtake the place forming gangs.
Cole has been accused of triggering the explosion, (he did but he didn’t know what he was doing) so much of the city has turned against him as he’s a wanted man. Throughout the game, Cole meets numerous people who convince him to work with them to take back the city from all the thugs. One of those characters is a man named Alden who plans to activate the sphere which Cole originally carried in the package that exploded. Cole jumps in and stops Alden from activating the sphere, which would suck the life force out of thousands of people and give that energy to a single person. Alden’s boss is revealed to be a man named Kessler who kidnaps Trish and hangs her from a building. He challenges Cole to either save Trish before she falls to her death or save five of the top doctors in the city who are hanging from a separate building. No matter who you choose to save, Trish dies making Cole enraged and set on defeating Kessler.
Kessler invites Cole to a showdown where the explosion of the sphere occurred. The two battle as Kessler shows similar powers to Cole. Eventually, Cole defeats Kessler and as he is dying he transmits a message to Cole’s mind. It is revealed that Kessler was actually Cole from the future. The future Cole traveled back in time to kill Trish as it is revealed that an entity named the Beast kills everyone in the future including Trish and Cole’s children. Realizing that the only way to defeat the Beast is to have Cole focused on destroying it without distractions, Cole becomes Kessler and sets out to prepare his former self. If you play the game as a hero, the city is restored with Cole becoming a hero. If you played as evil, Cole continues to let Empire City fall into ruins as gangs run wild and ignores Kessler’s warning about the Beast.
The story and plot of Infamous are presented in comic book panels and drawings with voice overs. The illustrations are fine, but I was disappointed when I first played this. The PS3 was still new in 2009, and I was looking forward to great graphics and details which Infamous didn’t provide with the comic book style of story-telling. I thought it looked cheap. However, the voice acting is better than average.
Infamous follows the gameplay of many open sandbox games where you clear out a section of the map until the map is fully available. In Infamous, you clear out sections by killing all the gang members in the area. Usually, there will be a mass battle but once you take them all out that section is generally safer.
Most actions in Infamous will affect your karma and whether you turn good or evil. Killing innocent people, police, and even gang members will result in becoming evil. You can pin them down for the police to collect later in a non-lethal way to earn good karma. The citizens of Empire City will react differently to you depending on your karma. If you’re evil they will cower and throw rocks at you and if you’re good they will clap and cheer.
Cole will develop many powers through the course of the game. You’ll earn experience points to spend on new powers and depending on what path you take (good or evil) will open up new powers. Cole can do just about anything with his electric powers including hovering, sliding on rails or powerlines, shooting enemies, healing, and causing explosions. It’s fun to learn new powers and play around with them and almost all of them become useful.
Infamous had an interesting plot, but the gameplay is very repetitive. I enjoyed the karma meter and made sure to stay on the good side of it while learning new powers. Cole isn’t very likable, as he is more of the anti-hero trope than the typical “good-guy that wears a cape”. I wanted to like him but to be frank, I didn’t connect with any of the characters from Infamous.
My friend that I worked with at the hospital had Infamous before I did and he was really into it. It was one of the first digital games I ever purchased and I can’t remember why I bought it digitally but I did. I remember enjoying my playthrough the first time but not thinking the game warranted as much excitement as my coworker thought. Whenever you can play as a good or evil character my morals always make me play as a good character and I mean full-tilt angel boy.
When you think of games that are in the 7/10 range, they typically are fun to play but you wouldn’t replay them or think much of them once you beat them. Infamous fits perfectly into this category. It’s above average, but nothing special. I didn’t care for the comic book scenes, but the powers that he earns throughout the game are unique. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of clearing out section by section of the map makes Infamous a chore sometimes. It’s still a solid game and one that you should definitely check out if you like adventure games or sandbox games.
Infamous scores a 7.4 out of 10.
Do you remember when Infamous first came out? What did you think of the plot? Did you choose to become evil or good? What was your favorite power to use? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Infamous, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PS3 from eBay for $10.