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Infamous: All We Need Now is a Sexy Villain Who Can’t Control The Volume or Tone of Her Voice

Posted by deckard47 on May 27, 2009

Got deep into Infamous last night (like 4 am deep, unfortunately), and I’m here to tell you, it is fun. The Simon-originating (recently)  Crackdown comparisons are apt, although Cole is both a bit stickier and a bit more deft of a navigator than your Agent in Crackdown. There are many other similarities, so I thought I’d break it down in a simplistic (overly?) way:

Infamous takes the rooftop-hopping, bounding, leaping antics of Crackdown and pumps them  up with a bit of Assassin’s Creed-esqu agility (the aforementioned stickiness, whereby Cole attaches to anything he touches, and he can touch a lot). It’s both a finer and a more artificial (especially how Cole attaches to things he can’t see or is too far away from ingame, just because it’s convenient) system, and it’s more fun, I think. Infamous also has those incredibly annoying guys who will snipe you with an Uzi from 600 damn feet away, while your super-lighting awesome-ass powers can’t touch them until you get closer. Maybe I’ll unlock a sniping power later? Onward!

Oh, and no matter what people say, the electricity powers (and the in-world gimmicks, story hooks, and tricks that are appended to these powers) work quite well, from a gameplay/narrative melding standpoint. The game does an absolutely excellent job of introducing you to new powers, tactics, and gameplay tropes. It feels natural and simple, and it makes moving forward in the game pleasant. This isn’t a Demigod, and it’s not an Oblivion. You learn new things in a “natural” way, and it feels pretty good.

Thankfully, Infamous drops Crackdown‘s offensively stupid ethnic imagery, profiling and rhetoric. You’ll never here anyone warning you of “bangers in the area” (really, bangers). The game makes up for this by having most principle characters be white or ambiguously white (except maybe John, who is never onscreen, so far). The voie acting is below par, I’d say, with Cole (our hero) being a particular kind of voice-villain. He’s like Solid Snake, but he’s forcing it just a bit less. In fact, in the game’s kickass-looking comic book style cutscenes, the voice actor toned it down. He sounds like a normal person, almost, who is undergoing unpleasant transformations. In game, he’s a gravelly voiced prick, for no reason other than that it makes him sound more “intense” and “realistic,” one presumes. Do these people watch movies? Do they ever talk to actual human beings? I was thinking, if a company like this made a game of 28 Days Later, instead of Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris, we’d have Marcus Fenix (by the wa, what the hel kind of name is that? It’s like Pheonix Dark Dirk, but it’s not a joke) and Bayonetta starring. I don’t think they understand what it means to be a “relatable” person, because if Cole is relatable, then I’d hate to see there version of a sociopath (although I bet I will!).

I’m not sure where this idea comes from? Maybe it’s the Diesel? Let me break this down. I love the Vin. He’s a badass, despite his questionable career direction. I think he’s a cool action/thriller hero. I think he can be funny and charming too. I think he’s also a cool video game character. But let me stop you there. Vin Diesel is not cool because he has a gravelly voice, big muscles, and takes shit from no one. He is cool because he is Vin Diesel (and sometimes plays the former parts in a way I enjoy deeply). I like the fact that he has a personality (say what you will about said personality) to go with his muscles and steely gaze. You know what happens when you take the Vin out of the Diesel? You get Marcus Fenix, Cole MacGrath, and a number of other humorless, assholish jokers. Guess what ?! Vin Diesel can be funny, and light, and child-oriented (although not necessarily good at it). He’s not always fucking Riddick. We like characters who have facets. This is what annoys me about male Sheppard (female Sheppard isn’t perfect, but the plain she operates in is not the same as Male Sheppard, for societal reasons). This is why Jade, Nathan Drake, Faith, Guybrush Threepwood and others are so much fun to watch and play. They are so far removed from these humorless, in-ur-face villains we’re forced to rub elbows with, it’s like night and day.

Anyway, the writing is not in fact awful, and it can be diverting at times. Oh wait, look, there’s a sidekick who is designated as crude, low-class, and overweight. He likes pizza! He has sketchy gold glasses! Really though, I’m a sap enough to play along with their amusingly serious super-hero terrorist-government organization plot. I’m so weak.

Then I got to the Sexy Voice part. You know what I mean. Rememer Dark Messiah of Might and Magic? No? In that game, your character was possessed by a sultry, sexy demonness who spent most of the game talking in your ear, sounding as if she was in the midst of intense erotic experiences at every word (irony, please tell me you hear the irony). And by this I really mean the voice actor hired was cruelly instructed to warble and moan her script like she was undergoing torture. This is what sexy is? Sexy apparently means you can’t control the modulation of your voice. It got old fast, and made me feel dumber than I already am. Lots of games do this. Everyone likes sexy demon girls, after all, right? Oh wait, I’m not a damn 12 year old anymore. Wait, when I was 12 that wasn’t exciting anyway. Who exactly is the target demographic for all of the sultry demonesses anyway? I’d love to meet them and lock them into a parallel dimension full of angry, hungry cats.

Back to business. In Infamous, there’s a portion where you get your vision (and mind!) messed up. I won’t tell you how. When this happens, you start seeing visions. I’m cool with that. That is alright  by me. Accompanying these visions, a “sultry” woman voice tells you how your girlfriend (the frighteningly animated, underused as a character as of yet girlfriend) doesn’t love you anymore, but the sexy voice thinks you are sexy. It loves you! This is so sad. I hope that they didn’t think they were connecting to somebody with this. It goes on for a while, before it mercifully ends. I bet I’ll meet her later though. Sultry demon times ahead!

You know what? I think this game is pretty sweet. Gameplay and fiction-wise (as the fiction relates to your powers), its strangely adept. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed city-exploring this much before. Only Crackdown came close, and Assassin’s Creed and GTA have nothing on this game. I love upgrading my powers. They hit me in the adventure-RPG sweet spot, with powers that can only be upgraded if I play as a certain alignment. That is so mean. Now I have to play as evil! I like the graphics, I love the comic book cutscenes, and the platforming is really amazing. The side missions are still fun (we’ll see if they start to slow down and become boring a bit later), and the comically voiced (unintentionally, sadly) NPCs amuse me with their wide-eyed entreaties for help.

Combat in this game is also really fun. It’s fast, accurate, and explosive, when you level up your powers. When you start fighting Reaper Conduits (guys who can teleport and throw energy at you in a snaking ground attack), things get really hectic. The coolest mission so far has been one where I was assigned to blow up a moving truck, along  with its escort. This took several passes, as I was always mobbed by the minions and Conduits. There’s nothing quite like blowing 5 guys into the air (some of them hanging, thanks to my Light Side powers), then shock grenading the remainder, and finishing up the last few with melee attacks. It’s really the best third-person combat I’ve experienced since Uncharted, although it’s much less tactical. Which reminds me. The cover system sucks, sucks, sucks. It’s unclear when and if you’ve attained cover, and it’s inaccurate. That said, you can shoot while hanging from anything, or while sliding on rails, or while doing just about anything else. It’s incredibly freeing, surprisingly. You really should try it, if only for that light (for lack of a better word) feeling you get when you realize you can shoot from anywhere, with anything.

So far, it feels like AC meets Crackdown meets just a bit of Uncharted. In fact, if Among Thieves (which I now have the beta key for!) can do Infamous one better in the free-form combat/platforming area, it will be my favorite game ever.

There are some minor updates I want to discuss (as in, general news), but I thought I’d write this up before my copy of Infamous shakes off that “new” smell. The worst par of it all? Demon’s Souls arrived at home and I’m at work. Oh the humanity. Now when I get home I have to pick between the two games (and grill hamburgers). Life is so difficult. Until later!

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4 Responses to “Infamous: All We Need Now is a Sexy Villain Who Can’t Control The Volume or Tone of Her Voice”

  1. Dude this post was epic! I thought you’d given up on long form here following all the long ass reviews you’ve been writing for other websites! Well now I definitely need to play it. It’s in the mail anyhow, so I guess there was no avoiding it. But now I’ll go into it with a positive attitude! I don’t think I’d seen anything negative about it except for the morality system, but your breakdown was much more nuanced. I feel like, in general, we get sick of the same stupid VG cliched shit (you might be a little more accepting, but you still notice it just as much as I do).

    One question I have is: how are the random spawns? In Crackdown, and old GTA games, I hated when I was running through a dangerous area for 30 minutes only to turn around for a moment and have a random gang spawn on my ass and slaughter me. This is especially bad in Crackdown, where six homing rocket launcher dudes will pop right behind your car or while you’re jumping to do you in. If that shit is still going on in 2009, I’m going to be really angry at whoever made INfamous.

    That’s really too bad that the girlfriend is such a minor character. My two favorite relationship moments in games during *this generation* (I can’t judge Final Fantasy games objectively) are the scene in The Darkness where you sit and watch television with Jenny (and you can choose how long to stay and chat with her) and the first date with the crazy OCD secret agent girl in GTA4. I want moar of that.

    • deckard47 said

      Well, I’ll be honest, a lot of Bothans (and “work minutes”) died to bring you this post. A moment of silence. Infamous is cliched and hackneyed as shit, and there’s no way around it. Go in expecting a fun game, nothing more, and you should be satisfied.

      Oh shit I forgot the random spawns. *They Kill Me*. I’ll literally turn a corner and see enemies spawn (they drop, as if from the sky) in on my ass. It’s really bad, and you’ll be killed more often by minions than by bosses, as far as I can tell.

      Still, it is pretty, and fun. How long that will last… Who knows. Oh, and wait til you see the in game cutscenes and their awful animations, they make KotoR 2 look like fucking Shakespeare performed by Alan Rickman or something. Awful.

      I’m sure the GF character and BF character are there so that you can choose who dies at the end (and they’re both tied up… hanging in midair… over pots of boiling goo… on opposite side of the city… etc.) depending on your “karma.” Jesus, let’s stop calling it that.

      I of course (in my hideously self conscious way) enjoyed the new POP (for Elika and The Land, I suppose, not for fake Nathan Drake), and also of course Drake’s Fortune (Drake’s relationship with himself?). I just like vaguely self-conscious takes on certain brands of genre pop culture, I guess.

      Never got interested enough in GTA’s side stuff to do more than the necessary socializing, and I don’t even remember that bit you mentioned (or I blocked it out?). I keep on hearing all of this sweet stuff about The Darkness, I should check it out. And now I want Gamefly back. Sigh.

  2. Brendan said

    I just bought my PS3 and inFAMOUS yesterday and started playing. The voice acting immedietly struct a sour note with me (annoy pizza-loving sidekick, especially) but the gameplay is so fun and the city so alive, I can tolerate him.. just.

    I just skimmed the last few paragraphs just in case there were subtle spoilers, so forgive me if you already answered this, but what do you think of the ‘choice’ system? Personally, it doesn’t feel like a choice system to me at all as there seems to be zero benefit to playing a neutral character.. after your first choice, there is little point to make any other decision any other way. It is dissapointing after seeing so many other games in the past year deal with choice (or the illusion of it), and the grey hazy area between good and evil so well, for this game to re-simplify it so crudely. Stressing that I hav eonly played a few hours, Coles just feels very unbelievable. He doesn’t make human decisions, he makes extreme-good or extreme-bad decisions. I dunno, maybe it gets better, maybe I am over-reacting.. but so far it just feels like a very poor choice mode done for the sake of choice being the in thing at the moment.

    But still, the gameplay is amazing, so near-all is forgiven.

    My brother and I personally describe the game as “If Altair [or whatever AC dude’s name was] was a Sith Lord in Liberty City, this would be his game.”

    • deckard47 said

      You’re absolutely right. This isn’t about moral quandries. People have feelings about what is morally “right,” and these feelings are informed by a multitude of criteria that people have inherited from society and parents, or have created as a response to perceived injustices or issues in the world. Infamous is about looking at two roads (that don’t exist, *Anywhere*, in real life) and picking one, because you think it might be a bit snazzier down that road. It’s dumb and regressive and makes Mass Effect and The Witcher look like pinnacles of game design. It’s also a lot of fun, as you’ve pointed out!

      Oh, and it’s totally AC meets electro-powers.

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