Infamous (PS3)


Review by Patrick Henry Downs

Infamous is fun, but the story sucks and it's awfully contrived.

It’s a 3D platformer in an open world environment, but with built-in constraints on the gameplay that force you to follow its arbitrary definitions of good and evil. There is no middle ground: in order to reap the true rewards of the game, and thus be powerful enough to take on the end-game foes; you MUST be good or evil.

Though the storyline’s definition of good and evil is sometimes warped, nothing is worse than the storyline itself, which is telegraphed in an awfully simple way. The story is paper-thin, like that of an action movie; it serves no other purpose than to transport your hero/villain from point A to point B. To make matters worse, it is impossible to skip the story’s cut scenes, which consist of the narrator explaining something that just happened and then explaining what happened afterward with static images flashing past on the screen. They really couldn’t be bothered to animate these scenes and have them play out onscreen, forcing the inclusion of a narration device? Pointless.

About two-thirds of the way through the game I am forced to choose between saving the lives of six doctors or saving the life of Trish, the main character’s ex-girlfriend who has been nothing but belligerent throughout the bulk of the story. Here is where the game could have really shined and instead it faltered. If Trish actually gave some sort of reward for her continued survival versus saving the lives of the doctors who run the medical clinics around town then I would have hesitated, asking, for example, ‘Do I save the free health boost or the convenience of respawning in nearby clinics?’ or something along those lines. Since neither choice really serves to impact anything beyond whether you are playing as a good or evil character, there is no dilemma. Programmers always assume they can pull on gamers’ emotional heartstrings, but we are a cold and brutal lot. We don’t care about the flippant, trash-talking sidekick – in fact, we desperately hope that he does turn evil in the 3rd act so we can enjoy the opportunity to murder him and stop the incessant one-liners that sound as if they were transcribed from Bazooka Joe bubblegum comics. We don’t care about the love interest because she is incapable of giving us anything, she cannot step off the screen and shower us with kisses when we rescue her, so we don’t care when she is strapped to a bomb for the sake of emotional gravitas. All we care about is blowing shit up!

Overall, despite all of my complaining, and as long as you ignore the hideously written story, Infamous is really enjoyable, but I don’t think it was worth the $60 I paid for it.

About Stephen Theaker (306 Articles)
Stephen Theaker's reviews, interviews and articles have appeared in Interzone, Black Static, Prism and the BFS Journal. Among other work for the BFS, he has been awards administrator, short story competition administrator, Dark Horizons editor, FantasyCon secretary and treasurer, and (briefly) chair.