GDC 2009 is my first chance to go hands-on with Sucker Punch's upcoming PS3 exclusive game inFAMOUS that will be releasing this June. I had not seen the game in person since last year's Tokyo Games Show, but it has come a long way since then. I played a tutorial mission and 3 additional missions here at GDC. Two, as good Cole and another two, as Evil Cole who uses red lightning and it is way awesome.
The controls work extremely well and aiming is crisp and responsive. Climbing buildings is easy and works a lot like Assassin's Creed, but it is much quicker. Cole will automatically grab onto anything that is scalable. Platforming is a breeze as Cole will "snap to" ledges and wires. Oh, and the best part of the game for me, so far, is sliding across a wire or train track propelled by electricity. It is a very enjoyable way to move from rooftop to rooftop across wires or traverse great distances above the streets on the suspended train tracks.
Combat is fast-paced and the game throws a lot of enemies at you. It is very impressive how many enemies and allies can share the screen at the same time. There are slight framerate drops in the most intense battles, but it does not even come close to breaking the game. The standard enemy that I fought used guns and were rather deadly. Thankfully, Cole is deadlier. This is key in a game like inFAMOUS. You feel incredibly powerful and badass.
Keep reading for more on inFAMOUS.
Your electric attacks will jump between objects and multiple enemies adding some leniency with aiming, but a well-aimed headshot will put an enemy down instantly. While the enemy is wounded on the ground, Cole can shackle them to remove them from the battle in a non-lethal way (worth positive karma) or kill them by draining their life force and restoring his own electric force (worth negative karma).
Besides the default shot, which does not use any of Cole's energy, he can throw shock grenades, "rockets", and use a telekinetic push to blast objects or reflect incoming projectiles. Evil Cole's grenades will separate into smaller cluster bombs before exploding over a great area. Even though all of these powers are based on electricity, they are varied enough to keep you from getting bored. All of these moves can also be done while climbing or hanging.
If there's any downside to the game's combat, it's the melee system. Aside from being less powerful than Cole's electric bolt, it doesn't quite lock on to enemies properly. This makes it hard to actually connect with a baddie. It is possible, however, that the demo I was playing just didn't have melee upgraded enough as melee damage is one of the upgrade paths. Regardless, the system could use a bit of lock on.
So, now that we know combat is satisfying and frantic, let's talk about the missions that I played. The tutorial mission is pretty straight-forward and Cole doesn't have very many powers at that point in the game so I'll skip it in favor of talking about later missions in the game. The first was a boss battle against an evil woman with powers of her own. I couldn't hear the dialogue, but I wouldn't want to spoil the game for you anyway. Suffice to say, she's gotta go. The boss battle takes place underground in a circular arena. Most of the ground is covered by water, which is very bad for Cole to be in as a living electrical circuit.
The basic objective is to do enough damage to the boss to stun her. At this point, you'll want to close the distance and engage in a little mini-game to pull cords out of her body. This is done by tackling her and overpowering her, bringing Cole's hand to the cord with the analog stick while rapidly pressing the X button. Thankfully, Sucker Punch chose not to use SIXAXIS here. In fact, I was never asked to use SIXAXIS during any of the demo levels. Whew. All in all, this was a pretty easy boss battle that probably held more story significance than difficulty. Sadly, I couldn't hear the game audio for the cutscenes.
The second mission tasked me with disabling armored buses mowing down innocent civilians on the city streets. Now we're talking! The four armored buses are patrolling the area, but cannot be assaulted from the ground. Additionally, standing near them will result in Cole taking more than the doctor recommended dosage of fully-automatic assault rifle fire and lead to a quick death. To stop the buses, it's time to climb the buildings and attack them from above.
From above, Cole can leap on top of them and attack the power source causing the bus to explode. To aid in the leaping, Cole can shoot electricity from his hands to slow his descent. It won't let him fly, but helps when jumping between two far-away buildings or trying to land with precision.
The third mission, the most difficult of the bunch, tasked Cole with defending a prison from attacking "trash-baggers" (enemies dressed in trash bags...) trying to free their boss, an evil super-powered villain. During the first phase, Cole must use his TK Blast to reflect flaming debris before it can hit the prison walls as the guards transfer prisoners. After that is finished, it's time to repel the first wave of attackers. Standing on an electrified walkway, Cole can make quick work of his adversaries. Standing on a charged surface will allow Cole to throw grenades and shoot rockets non-stop. Unfortunately, you will not be able to regenerate health while doing so.
The attackers also bring a Conduit into the fray, which is a giant walking enemy comprised of trash, debris, and wreckage powered by electricity. They are deadly and can make short work of Cole, but it's nothing a bunch of rockets won't solve. Once the Conduit is dispatched, it's time to head to the top of the prison to recharge the generator holding the enemy leader in place and then head back down to the ground to fight off another group of trash-baggers and Conduits. It was definitely challenging and took me a few tries to complete, but the developers told me that the mission was skewing a little difficult in its current form. It'll probably be toned down for the normal difficulty I was playing.
The missions were nicely varied and showed off some of the ways you'll use inFAMOUS' unique gameplay elements to complete the tasks at hand. Of the three, the boss battle was definitely the weakest. Most importantly, the game is incredibly fun. I'm definitely looking forward to playing this game when the retail version releases in June.
Also, be sure to check out the most recent video here:
inFAMOUS Poisoned Gameplay Water Clip