B-List Celebrity

If you haven’t played it, inFa­mous is a plat­form-shoot­er. It replaces firearms with elec­tic pow­ers that are indis­tin­guish­able from shoot­er game­play, right down to the con­trols. So it’s Crack­down on the PS3 with updat­ed art, though the art does not approach the best graph­ics that the PS3 we’ve seen. I like the com­ic book-style cin­e­mat­ics, even if I’m jeal­ous of how cheap they must have been to pro­duce. But I bare­ly passed my 8th grade art class, so let’s talk about the design issues.

There’s a lot to like. Col­lect­ing and side mis­sions slow­ly cap­ture map sec­tions and gen­er­ate the feel­ing of real progress. At times, the nav­i­ga­tion play on city wires can drop into a enjoy­able rthyhm. Then there’s some game sys­tems that need help.

  • Hive­mind AI. Once an ene­my has spot­ted you, they all know where you are, pret­ty much per­ma­nent­ly. Run away from one, then come around a cor­ner, and anoth­er ene­my will shoot your eye­brows off just as you become vis­i­ble. The game should be hid­ing more infor­ma­tion from its own AI.
  • Hyper­ac­cu­rate AI. Nev­er seen a game that tried so hard to kill me. Ene­my snipers on every rooftop. If you’re not tum­bling, they will hit you.
    Woah, I said accurate!

    I said hyper­ac­cu­rate!

  • High Dura­bil­i­ty AI. The punks on the street take a lot of hits to kill. After they get up off the ground the third time, I was rather annoyed. For a super­hero game, I expect the char­ac­ter to demon­strate the pow­er to chew up the default thug-lev­el bad guys like so much pop­corn.
  • The Tar­get­ing UI. It lies to us. If you put a tar­get­ing ring in the mid­dle of your game screen, and it lights up when over an ene­my, and the play­er pulls the trig­ger.… guess what should hap­pen? Hit the bad guy! Sad­ly, not so in inFa­mous. Giv­en how much action and move­ment goes on, I wish I could play the game with lock-on tar­get­ing akin to that found in its pre­de­ces­sor Crack­down.

Com­bat is chal­leng­ing, though not in a good way.  The game ramps dif­fi­cul­ty by turn­ing the knob to the right on mon­ster hit points. Fine, if rather point­less, if the char­ac­ter dam­age scales sim­il­iar­ly. It doesn’t. This com­bat design belongs in a dif­fer­ent game. This is a super­hero game, ulti­mate­ly, but the emo­tion most fights leave me with is relief. I sur­vived. Fine in a real­is­tic game. In a super­hero game, I should end bat­tles pumped full of adren­a­line. con­fi­dent in my ass-kick­ing pow­er.

What else deserves some atten­tion in the inevitable sequel? The rep­e­ti­tion. inFa­mous isn’t alone in the open world genre with the issue of repet­i­tive objec­tive (hel­lo, Assassin’s Creed!). In fact, it’s bet­ter than many, which is sad. Still, the game­play and side mis­sions spread a 6 hour game over a peri­od twice that length. Fin­ish­ing the game was an act of want­i­ng to see how the sto­ry end­ed, not a desire to play more of the game.

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