As promised, today's post is about the PS3's InFamous. In this superhero-fantasy-fulfillment you play Cole McGrath, former bike messenger and parkour god of Empire City. On a routine delivery run the package he is carrying explodes, killing thousands and unleashing a virulent plague on the city. Of course, the explosion doesn't kill Cole (everyone knows the safest place to be when terrifying new technologies explode is ground zero) and when he awakes he finds he is imbued with electrical powers.

It starts out small - he can shoot little bursts of lightning, send out a static shock wave, and resist damage to some extent. He is also given some serious strength which makes his parkour abilities truly crazy. In fact, he kind of looks like he's the love child of a drunken hump between Assassin's Creed II and The Prince of Persia. That's how he earned his nickname around Flockhall, "Electric Monkey Man."

Like Ezio, he can climb to the highest points in his environment and dive off, but Cole doesn't need a hay bale to land in. In fact, one of his later powers ("Thunder Drop") allows him to fall ridiculous distances as an explosive attack. The higher the fall, the bigger the boom, so jumping off tall buildings is actually encouraged. Later in the game he shows off the other side of his genetics as he learns to slow down time for sniping. Cole, however, doesn't need the dagger of time to do it - he just needs a little bit of electricity.

As the game progresses he becomes a juggernaut of vaguely electric whoop-ass. By the end of the game he can actually call down lightning from heaven. (If there was any justice in this world the Black Pope would have that power...)

Although the game has a plot, and there is a bit of a twist at the end, it resides in a very implausible neighborhood, and ultimately it's not all that important. The thing about this game is the play itself. It has elements of so many game types - skateboarding, platformers, melee fighters, 3rd person shooters, sniper simulators, and even scavenger hunts. Although I played the plot missions all the way through to the end, I did all of the side quests first, simply because I liked the way Cole moves through the city. Grinding on the wires to gain speed then flying on static thrust to the next rooftop, where you rain down shock grenades on the thugs below is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

Another great element of the game is the healing system. When you get hurt, just look for an electrical source and charge up. If you wish, you can heal (or drain) the people you find injured on the street as well. I spent about 30 minutes one day just running around the city playing Jesus. I would walk up to an injured civilian, touch him and say, "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Very satisfying, albeit a bit sacrilegious. (Another power that the Pontifex Niger should have...)

When the final battle arrived, I wanted to go back into the city and find more side missions. There were none. I stalled, skating around the city on the train tracks, looking for thugs to beat up. I felt like the last guy at a party, saying "come on guys, the night is young!" Eventually, I accepted that the ride was over, and it was time to go face the boss.

After a titanic struggle, I beat him. Well, actually it just took titanic cursing, but I got it done. Watched the credits roll, then ran around the newly freed city a bit... and it wasn't the same. The crisis was over, the thugs were gone, and Electric Monkey Man was no longer needed.

Luckily, InFamous 2 is in the works, with a 2011 release date.


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