I consider the Sly Cooper series to be a member of the holy trinity of PS2-era platformers, along with Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter. Since the next generation systems have come out, we've seen big new IP from both Ratchet's Insomniac (Resistance) and Jak's Naughty Dog (Uncharted), and now it's up to the Sly Cooper creators at Sucker Punch to bring their big new thing to the PS3, and that big new thing is inFamous. It's a free-roaming action adventure that takes some of the masked bandit's philosophies and applies them to an electrifying new superhero origin story.
The game begins with a massive explosion that decimates the heart of Empire City, leaving only one survivor - you. As protagonist Cole you must learn to deal with the mysterious new electrical superpowers you find yourself developing as you seek to solve the mystery of the Empire City disaster, a task that proves exceedingly difficult once you realise that all signs point to you being the cause.
After an introduction to the story told through cutscenes resembling pages from a graphic novel, the Sucker Punch took some time to demonstrate the gameplay of inFamous, beginning with out hero melodramatically standing atop a moving train, speeding through some of the seedier locations in Empire City. How seedy? As soon as the train stops, gunfire erupts from the rooftops. I'd say that's pretty seedy.
Luckily the demo version of Cole is already well-versed in the uses of his electrical powers, blasting an enemy with a bolt before hopping off the train and making his way up to the rooftop. As with the Sly Cooper series, exploration and ease of movement are a big focus in inFamous, with presenter Nate Fox name-dropping Assassin's Creed more than a few times when citing the inspiration for Cole's acrobatic journey upwards.
As with any normal guy with newly acquired superpowers, choice also plays a big role in how Cole develops his skills. There are powers that can simply incapacitate, knocking criminals out of commission, or powers that outright kill. He can even help wounded civilians by using his electrical powers to shock them back to life like a walking defib machine. Your actions have consequences, as Empire City features a fully realised social ecology - people remember your actions and react accordingly.
Empire City also features a fully realised power grid, allowing Cole to drain power from electrical devices such as pay phones and traffic lights in order to fuel his abilities. Though Nate couldn't confirm or deny as of press time, he did react to a question about how Cole travels around the massive city by saying that their goal was to develop the coolest electric super powers imaginable, and my suggestion that he would transport himself via power lines got just a tiny hint of reaction. They'll be announcing more in the coming months, but come on...it doesn't get much cooler than being able to transport yourself high-speed via electrical wiring.
It's hard to say how inFamous will turn out. The premise is interesting and the promise of playing as an electric-powered superhero quite intriguing, but right now I just don't know enough about the story and the game's protagonist to know whether or not I will care for him. Cole seems kind of bland at the moment, but that could certainly change as more of the storyline unfurls in the coming months.
So far the other two members of the holy platformer trinity have yet to let me down. Here's hoping Sucker Punch makes it a clean sweep.