One (possibly final) hour with inFamous

I’ve received a good reaction to my Bionic Commando “liveblog”, so I figured I’d keep up the practice.  Last night, I wanted to squeeze in a little gaming before heading to the monthly Industry Night event at a local bar, so I sat down and fired up the PS3.  In retrospect, I should have kept the original disc in the tray.

As usual, the comments in bold are real-time reactions to what I’m seeing on the screen.  The smaller text below is my post-liveblog reaction.

I should stress that the most of inFamous — running around and shooting electricity at everything — is an absolute blast.  It’s so much fun to blow up cars and bad guys that I played the game much longer than I ordinarily would have.  The game itself is quite pretty, and gets a ton of things right.  Almost everyone at Sucker Punch should take a bow for what they’ve accomplished.

But as is sometimes the case with games of this type, the non-combat aspects just don’t seem to hold up their end of the bargain.  For me, that is.

Anyway. This “liveblog” contains a spoiler that occurs near the end of inFamous. Read on at your own risk.

 


7:03:04 PM
Started up Bionic Commando, took it out, putting inFamous back in.  Mostly because inFamous is from Blockbuster and BC is from GameFly, though.
7:04:28 PM
I can’t stress enough how fucking obnoxious Moya is.  Seriously, if you’re going to have a character talk to me for the entire game, please don’t have her be so annoying.  And omnipresent.  It’s really grating.
This is something I wrestled with on Space Siege (and again, that’s the material I wrote for Space Siege before they laid everyone off and gutted the script). I go into more detail here.
7:05:00 PM
Especially because I just failed a mission because I “lost sight of a helicopter”.  IT’S A HELICOPTER!  Where’s it going to go?  I think I’ve got it covered!
This wasn’t the worst example of this concept in inFamous — ten minutes into the game, you have to follow your buddy Zeke as he runs across town (with no enemies around) to do something. If you get too far away from him, the game ends, dropping you back to the last checkpoint. This happened to me the first time I played that section, since I stood in place listening to the story he was telling me as he ran, and seeing how they handled proximity in conversations. The best part? You “get to” listen to the minutes-long dialogue again when you redo it.
7:10:40 PM
That’s great that you’re presenting me with a moral choice in the middle of a boss I’ve already fought five times.  Thanks for that — I could have used one back when saving my ex-girlfriend was considered an evil act for some reason.
So I played through the entire game as a goody two-shoes, which is pretty much what I always do in games with IMPORTANT MORAL CHOICES — usually because the choice is usually between “help this guy who’s been kidnapped” versus “disembowel the kidnap victim and wear his guts as a hat”.

 

Anyway, every time the game presents me with an IMPORTANT MORAL CHOICE (helpfully separated into “good” and “evil” options), I’ve chosen the “good” one, which increases my karma.

At one point in the game, an enemy throws a city bus onto a hospital with his mind. Pretty cool idea. So the bus is hanging over the edge, with my ex-girlfriend Trish inside it. I scramble up the side of the building, dispatch a bunch of enemies, and finally make it to Trish, who is being menaced by multiple bad guys. I take all of them out, which immediately (and I do mean immediately — there’s often zero time between “mission complete” and “trigger something”) triggers a cutscene. In this cutscene, I reconcile with my ex-girlfriend… and for some reason, BECOME MORE EVIL for doing so. I guess I shouldn’t saved the most obvious victim first next time.

7:14:55 PM
If you only have 2:45 before they triangulate your position, then why say “one minute nineteen seconds” instead of “one nineteen”?  Not very efficient.
I couldn’t tell if I liked “John”‘s gimmick or not. It’s an interesting concept, having to get a bunch of information out in a tiny amount of time. It just felt a little forced.
7:32:42 PM
Zeke wouldn’t shut up before about how I should start naming my moves.  Then when I do the one he mentioned right in front of him, he doesn’t say a word.  Missed opportunity there.
This is especially strange considering how fond the game is of naming things, and having characters who really shouldn’t have any clue about nomenclature start spouting it like they’re professors on the subject.
7:33:05 PM
Why exactly do I need someone to come to the top of the tower to help me get the Ray Sphere?  I thought it was the size of a basketball.  I think I can handle it.
The answer to this one was obvious, I just didn’t want to spell it out — the person I brought with me was either going to betray me or die.
7:34:34 PM
“Hey, Cole!  You gotta get movin’!  Climb on up there!”  Look, I invited you here.  Quit pestering me.  Everyone in the game, quit pestering me.  It’s an open world game.  I have a dot on my map.  I don’t need you to tell me when and where to go.
Half-Life Episode One had a really interesting developer commentary about this. I’m paraphrasing, but basically they said that originally, Alyx used to remind the player where to go, and constantly pressure him to keep moving. During several rounds of focus testing, they discovered that players actually hated Alyx. So they made the decision to never have Alyx prod the player into action.

 

This is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever heard of in a game, and I think it speaks volumes about where Valve is in this business compared to a lot of other companies. They actually trust the player to be smart. And when you do that to your player, your player will appreciate you for it.

7:37:43 PM
Oh, right, why WOULD I be able to draw power from a neon sign?
7:41:29 PM
So there’s one of those big-ass golems on top of the roof, but he’s inactive.  I can’t shockwave him off?  Why didn’t you put him behind one of your collapsible walls that you like to hide guys behind?
This was kind of sloppy. I felt pretty smart when I went around back to find the deactivated golem thing. I’m not really sure why they stuck him out in the open, yet they hide big groups of enemies in monster closets.
7:43:07 PM
TALK LOUDER, Cole.  Why are you whispering to someone who’s twenty feet away 50 stories in the air?
Maybe it’s unfair to single inFamous out for this, since tons of games can’t seem to get it right.
7:49:13 PM
Did you really just say “I’ll tear you from limb to limb?”
This totally floored me. I assume the actor just read it wrong and it got into the game anyway. But the subtitles confirmed that it was actually “limb to limb”. I… don’t know what to say.
7:50:02 PM
Tons of misspelled words and misused idioms in that sequence.  My god.
To go with “tear you from limb to limb”, there was also “dumfounded”, and a few others that I didn’t write down.
7:50:43 PM
Sooooo shocking that Zeke betrayed me.  Who would have ever seen that coming.  Oh right, I did, from the moment they first showed his character.
It’s not like it was tough to figure out, really. Games these days are so deadset on TWISTS AND TURNS and SHOCKING BETRAYALS and OMG WHO CAN YOU TRUST that you can usually just assume people are going to betray you when they’re first introduced.
7:53:11 PM
Jumping off the top of the building after the SHOCKING ZEKE BETRAYAL was very satisfying.  They should have forced you to do it more, like in Assassin’s Creed.
7:57:17 PM
Aaaaand, the game locks up my PS3.  Tremendous.
I think this may have happened because I stepped on a “start next primary mission” trigger while a “guy rants about Cole on TV” sequence was playing. Not sure if it was the game or my system, but this was the final nail in the coffin — inFamous is going back to Blockbuster for now.

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