The other night I played some of inFamous, the open world action game coming to PS3 in June. I went in not knowing what to expect and came out not knowing what to think.
It's hard to gain an appreciation for an open world game in a limited demo experience.
At the Sony event I attended there were three discrete missions on show. Each was quite short and took place either in a naturally confined area (i.e. an underground cave) or would return you back to the mission location if you wandered off track. You couldn't explore the city at your leisure. Hopefully this was just a limitation of the preview build used for this demo, rather than an indication of the final game.
But here are three things that stood out for me:
The Art I'm in two minds about the art direction Sucker Punch has employed. There's a certain grittiness to the world that's evident in some grimy textures as well as the debris strewn across the chaotic city. Yet there's also a comical element in the vivid neon colours, character designs and exaggerated animation. It's probably just a personal taste thing, but for the two art styles don't mesh well and fail to provide a strong visual identity.
The Movement What is a clear strength, however, is the way you can move around the world. Cole is a magnificently nimble protagonist, capable of near-effortless feats of superhuman parkour. He's like Altair from Assassin's Creed mixed with one of the dudes from Crackdown; more powerful than the former and more agile than the latter. Scaling to the very summit of the city feels intuitive, as Cole grabs onto all kinds of ledges, hooks, poles, wires and cracks while you steer his progress with the analog stick and jump button. It's easy and yet never fails to be rewarding, mostly because it just feels - and looks - so cool.
The Choices Yes, this is another game where you make so-called moral choices. And yes, all the choices are clearly defined as "Good" and "Bad". There's even an on-screen indicator informing you of your current position of the Good/Bad scale at all times. The choices you make affect not only the story but the way your powers develop: being good allows you to focus your abilities with greater precision, while being bad leads to more reckless and indiscriminate use of your powers. Which seems interesting. What wasn't interesting was the one moral choice I encountered: choosing whether to let the desperate citizens share a food drop or to blast them away and steal it for myself. By opting for the "non-arsehole" path, you simply stand there and don't attack anyone for a few moments. Unfortunately we weren't able to see the impact of our choice here on the game's narrative, although we somehow suspect it won't really matter.
So, in summary, based on what I've seen thus far: inFamous looks OK, feels great to play, but didn't get me thinking or draw me into its world fiction.
As for how well the game is paced, what it's like to roam the city in-between missions, how your powers grow, how varied your missions are, how challenging the moral choices become, what sorts of enemies you encounter later on, or whether the whole thing manages to gel together? I've no idea.