Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Hour Until Sunrise

In the vein of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, comes Infamous: Festival of Blood, a standalone total-conversion of the Infamous world. The title, in fact, remains one of the biggest-selling ps3 downloadable games launched on the PSN.

Our protagonist, Cole, now decidedly an antihero, given his vampire form, must dispatch Bloody Mary, a powerful vampirette, before sunrise, or the blood suckers are taking over, as the vampire lady plans to turn the entire citizenship into creatures of the night. It may sound somewhat cheesy, yet the game makes sure you are in on the joke. Cole has been granted the power to fly, and given vampire vision, similar to Arkhman Asylum's detective mode.
Festival of Blood employs the Infamous 2 engine, and takes place in New Marais; based on New Orleans, during the Pyre Night celebrations; a sort of rather twisted Mardi Gras, complete with barefoot girls with glow-in-the-dark necklaces, partying all night. In this brief but engaging game, you need to suck blood from civilians to regain health, reminding me of the better moments of Bloodrayne II, but after a certain point, some of them may turn into the towering Firstborns, which are mighty vampire foes; much like the Banshees from Mass Effect 3.
Ultimately, there is much to do in this little package, having two sets of powers; the electrical and the vampiric, as well as the smooth controls and swift camera, both being extremely fine-tuned, with the end result, that at times, the screen is filled with colors and movement reminiscent of a japanese fighting game. It is one of those great games to play in company, even though it is a single player campaign.

The game is narrated by uber-cool geek Zeke, Cole's buddy, as he tries to pick up an attractive woman in a bar, and hence probably tells a story which is either embellished or completely made up in his own mind. There is also User-Generated-Content available throughout the city, many of it by game developer, Sucker Punch. A tasty appetizer before delving into the world of Infamous 2.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Massive Electrostatic Discharge

Infamous, an early ps3 exclusive title, is a superhero game without the trappings and the inherent baggage which comes with a superhero movie adaptation, since as history has proven, outside of the Spider-Man games, most such adaptations have failed deplorably. Cole MacGrath's electrical powers are intimately linked with the game's mythology, and the game's design and world-building are a case of quality over quantity.

I have played few exceptional free-roaming, or sandbox, games; chief among them, Rockstar Vancouver's Bully, which takes place in the confined Bullworth Academy, yet this is made up for with strong characters and a good premise. Only one other worthy title comes to mind; Team Bondi's The Getaway, which puts the player in a lovingly crafted London. Does Infamous offer a spin to the age-old GTA formula, and not fizzle out like a certain recent game?

To begin with, Infamous' Empire City is very much alive; you can even go into the sewers, and the fact that it is small is utilized as an advantage, since it is exploited to maximum capacity. Little details like bystanders snapping photos of you, TVs that play news reports and commercials, and, of course, the fact that there are enemies wreaking havoc in territories you have to clear, make this a thorough world. Your pal Zeke, offers comic relief, while the game plays like a more violent version of the movie Hancock. I had listened to the soundtrack by techno-virtuoso Amon Tobin beforehand, and I must say it is truly fantastic. The motion-comic cut-scenes are also quite well designed.
Some degree of strategy is necessary to fight against your enemies, the Reapers, the Dust Men and the First Sons; like taking cover, or holding from ledges, while you blast them with electricity; the routine of blasting away and recharging on any city device that runs on electricity never gets old. The city is quite interactive, with pipes you can climb, antennas which can be tumbled over to use as bridges, and power cables which you can hang from or slide on; the latter grants a tremendous sense of freedom, like Spidey swinging from a web. Cole's physical prowess is partially explained, when the main character states at one point, that he is an urban exploration aficionado.
The game employs an ambitious karma system, sort of like a good Jedi vs. dark Jedi path, taking into account certain decisions you make throughout the story, in addition to whether you decide to heal or "leech" injured civilians. There is also a basic talent tree, to upgrade your powers. Taking these things into account, it could be said the game has a respectable dose of action-rpg elements. Last, but not least, the main missions, and some side-quests, are actually quite fun. Having bought the Infamous Collection, which comes with both ps3 games, as well as DLC, I am certainly looking forward to experiencing the complete story. One of the ps3's finest games.