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inFamous demo impressions; shockingly good?

Submitted by on Friday, 8 May 20095 Comments

infamous box shot inFamous demo impressions; shockingly good?inFamous has long been a source of much discussion amongst the crew at Attitude Towers.

Back when PS3 Attitude was all dark and moody, we discussed how inFamous was similar in many ways to Prototype. Since then we’ve featured a number of trailers, discovered that the game will ship with an Uncharted 2 demo and uncovered the contents of the Collector’s Edition.

The heat was turned up yesterday afternoon when SCEE sent us the inFamous demo. After a longer than usual download thanks to a dodgy wireless router, we fired up the demo for the first time. 56 minutes and 7 seconds later we had the answer to a most burning question; is inFamous shockingly good, or did it fail to spark our imagination?

The demo begins with a slick introduction, the story of your superpowers displayed using what can best be described as an ‘active comic book’.

Your character, Cole McGrath, is a bike messenger in Empire City. A package Cole was delivering caused a massive explosion in the city centre. The only survivor of the blast, Cole now finds that he has special powers, but in the two weeks he has been unconscious, Empire City has gone to hell in a hand-basket.

Police have either been murdered or have fled the scene, and the entire city has been cordoned off – Escape from New York style – thanks to a plague that has ravaged the environment. Gangs now run Empire City and have taken control of various neighbourhoods, all filled with regular citizens trapped by the circumstances they find themselves in and the fences that keep people from infecting the outside world.

We wouldn’t recommend you ‘summer’ there anytime soon.

As Cole you have a number of electrifying special powers. Shooting electricity from your arms, inFamous plays like a good third-person shooter. Add to that a number of slick melee moves, a parkour-like ability to run, jump and climb on anything and a smattering of special abilities and you have an immediately playable and enjoyable game on your hands.

Starting from a rooftop in the demo, the task ahead involved getting a train full of hostages back to the station. Some of the buildings are connected by electricity cables, which allow you to glide between locations whilst charging up your ‘internal batteries’. In fact, any time you’re feeling a little ‘low’ on energy within inFamous, you can drain various electricity sources to regain your health.

Traversing across the environment is quick and easy. Jump near an object and Cole grabs hold, allowing you to leap around or scale buildings without much effort or complex control systems. Just point and press X. Of course, this means that every now and then you’ll latch on to something you didn’t want to grab, but typically the system works well.

Landing on the train allows Cole to kickstart the train with his inherent electricity, and once you clear the cars blocking the train from moving forward using your ‘blast’ power, you get moving. Of course, nothing is that easy and in this mission you need to get off the train every now and then to charge up a sort of ‘sub-station’ to keep the train moving. Each of these points is greeted with harder and harder enemies to deal with – a well-trodden game design technique that works well.

It is during this early stage in the demo that you get a chance to try other attack methods, such as the ‘top bombing’ power drop that causes all powerful shockwave to emanate from your position. You still need to be careful what power you use and where, since the environment can kill you too – the first time you power drop on to a parked car is the last time you’ll do it too!

There are four missions to try out in the demo and whilst the karma system isn’t fully explained, you do get a chance to play as the Hero and Anti-hero during your time in Empire City. The difference we saw so far between the two? One glows blue and the other red… but it is clear from looking at the unlockables that you’ll gain different powers and abilities depending on your karmic state.

When you watch inFamous closely, you’ll notice that there has been some payoff in terms of the number of polygons being pushed for each character, but that allows there to be an impressive amount of objects, buildings, citizens and enemies on screen at once. The draw distance was also impressive, and we saw no glitches at all when perched upon high ground, scanning the entire city.

The electricity, explosion and general special effects are also impressive as are our favourite weapon so far, the electricity grenades. Get your angles right and these can been thrown a mile, sometimes sticking to an enemy who then runs in fear towards his colleagues and takes out the whole crew!

With only four missions included in the demo, it is difficult to tell at this stage whether inFamous will be able to capture our imagination for long periods of time without becoming repetitive. However, with the train rescue, the ‘save our water’ appeal, the ‘protect the meds’ mission and the ‘destroy the truck’ campaign, these four showed a good amount of variety.

So much so that after 56 minutes and 7 seconds, and once we’d been treated to an end-of-demo movie showing us what is to come from the full game, we fired up the demo once more and played through each mission again, only slightly differently this time. It is a sandbox title, after all.

So the answer to that burning question? inFamous is shockingly good after all, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the full product.

If you want to pre-order inFamous, please consider doing so through PS3 Attitude. Every sale results in a donation to our charity fund.