Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Impressions/Rant: Infamous is Worse than you Thought!

Posted by deckard47 on June 11, 2009

Before we dive back into Cole’s unpleasant world, I’ll direct you to the sidebar. As you can see over there, I’ve reviewed some more games for Gametopius and Popmatters. Since the dark overlords at GSW haven’t seen fit to release my latest brilliant piece of writing from its cage, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that one. But trust me, it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen. Since the last one.

Now, back to Infamous‘ sad, sad face. It’s an ugly face to begin with (I have regular nightmares about Trish and Sasha), but there’s something that no one has mentioned (if you mentioned this, send me an angry email with the link, and I’ll make amends). In Infamous, the first enemies you fight are “pimps and drug dealers” in the games’ words. This isn’t exactly new. Like Crackdown before it, Infamous realizes that it’s easiest to make your enemies uncool by societal standards. For Crackdown, that meant ethnic profiling (Bangers are headed your way, Agent!), but in Infamous that means socio-economic profiling.

After the bomb, Infamous has no problem hypothesizing that the “dregs” of society, those easiest to paint in an unpleasant, deviant light, would become the hilariously named “Reapers.” This wasn’t surprising to me. What did surprise me was when I reached the second Island, “The Warrens.” This is the poor section of town, as everybody keeps saying. Lots of people remind Cole (or he tells us, while he’s chewing on some broken glass to help his sore throat) of what a scary, dirty, dangerous place The Warrens were. When you arrive, it becomes apparent that you have a new enemy to deal with. The “Dustmen.” What could they be, you wonder? Men and women who appreciate the awesome qualities of dust? Do they like dust storms? No, it turns out they’re homeless people, who have taken to wearing trashbags and terrorizing the populace, in the same way the Reapers did. No I’m not fucking making that up Your enemies are those scary, crazy homeless people, who are even tougher and meaner than the pimps and drug dealers.

It doesn’t exactly get better from there. Since the “Dustmen” are your new enemies, you get a lot of missions centered around them. All of the NPCs call these enemies “Transients” (a painful, awkward theft of language), and you are thus often informed that “Transients” have stolen food, medical supplies, or kidnapped people. Again, I’m not making this shit up. In one situation, upon finding an audio recording left by an FBI agent investigating the game’s evil super-villain crew, the agent talks about how bad and dangerous life is in The Warrens, and how no one helps people here. But then he talks about how the response to this situation should be to destroy the entire Warrens  section of the city.

Did the people writing this realize that they were not only creating stupid, sexist caricatures of humans in Sasha, but that they were also reiterating an old, really frightening line of thought regarding people in the lowest socio-economic brackets—that these people were so lowly and messed up that the only way to “save” them is to destroy their homes and livelihoods? I guess not. I can’t wait for island number three! I wonder what the bad guys there will be? Prostitutes? Also, It’s amusing to note how, if you change the coloring and method of combat, this is Crackdown. I’m actually really surprised that the enemies weren’t obvious ethnic caricatures. It would have been almost a complete ripoff then, aside from the method of transportation. Bravo, Sucker Punch.

P.S. Michelle Forbes is in the new season of True Blood. I know, exciting! She’s gotten rid of her mole (as fans of In Treatment will know), but she’s just as badass as ever, if not more. Did you know she turned down the rpart of Kira Nerys (or the part that morphed in Nana Visitor’s Kira Nerys)? She would have rocked the hell out of DS9! I think they should just remake Voyager and have her be Janeway. That would be so sweet!

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9 Responses to “Impressions/Rant: Infamous is Worse than you Thought!”

  1. Sam said

    Shit! Now I have to catch up on true blood. Just as long as I can block out the racism/homophobia allegory on my left and the Twilight biting-is-sexier-than-sexing teen-girl vibe on my right. It’ll be hard, though.

  2. Brendan said

    I just got to the second island yesterday (seriously! I am not lying to appear topical!) and found out the bad guys were a ‘bunch of homeless people banded together’. I cringed at the political incorrectness of it all. Perhaps the third island will be single mothers on government payouts? Or the elderly? Maybe immigrant taxi drivers? Who knows!

    • Brendan said

      Also, the animations are horrible, characters don’t look at you while they are speaking, people dont hold phones to their ears and just speak into the ether, ‘unarmed’ prisoners still obviously have holstered AK-47s…. yet the game is so damn fun. It doesn’t make sense! Whoever the one person at sucker punch is that is holding this game together, they should go over to Rockstar or any other decent developer and make something truly amazing.

      endrant.

      • Brendan said

        ok, re-begin rant.

        Wait until the blantant sexist objectifying Zeke does as he pines for some girl he just wants to score with, but also wants more than a one-night stand with. “Women, i will never understand them” he says… Neither will the game’s writers, it seems.

        Sorry, your blog is one of the few places on the interwebs that seems to actually see through this games thinly veiled… crap. NOW i will end ranting. 🙂

      • deckard47 said

        Yeah I recently got to that bit. It was bad, but it was worse when Zeke says that the woman “just wanted to be friends,” and Cole goes “oh no.” It was such a weird moment, like they wanted everyone who knew “women who said that kind of thing” to commiserate with Zeke and Cole and their trouble with those crazy ladies. It was lazy writing mostly (I realize now), but it feels like they’re trying to slap you in the face over and over.

  3. I’ll have to wait ’till I get to play the game myself to pass judgment on this business, and I have friends who really like it that I’d like to ask about all this.

    Still, funny to imagine a world where it’s the downtrodden people (who don’t have the stamina and resources to change their own situations in a reasonable society) that become the terrorizing oppressors. And not, say, the disconnected, pampered, and selfish ruling class.

    As far as InFamous goes though, I’m really curious now.

    • deckard47 said

      I think it’s fun to play, much like Crackdown was, but I have this sneaking suspicion that if I go back to Crackdown, it will be better… I’ve already upgraded my guy in Cracdown all the way though, so Infamous is my next best option…

  4. Alright, I plowed through the game and…well, I’ll echo you on most of these points. I did find the Dustmen/Reapers funny to say the least.

    At least with the Reapers they made it seem like (Spoilers abound!) they were actually created via mind control tar; not that it ever rectified their “junkie dealers” status.

    Whereas with the Dustmen I was surprised by 1) how outlandish the very premise of it is and 2) how seriously everyone spoke of them. There’s nothing approaching comedy in the voices of NPCs when they tell you things like “Transients have set up surveillance equipment on my building!” Neither ridiculous indignation or sneering, mock disdain; just outright barking “transients” like an alternate universe in which they become the enemy is as real as heat in Summertime.

    Did these actors not realize the sheer nature of what they were saying? Or were they forced to keep from laughing as they read the lines?

    All in all, though, I had a good deal of fun, those things aside. Probably going to do a little write up soon.

    • deckard47 said

      That was pretty bad, but the thing that killed me the most (and the reason I’ve dropped the game for Red Faction) was the BIG CHOICE with Trish/the doctors. First of all, Kessler’s voice actor (and the person who wrote him) is a complete villain. He speaks in only the most bland, derivative dramatic tropes, and every word he spoke during that mission was unpleasantly stupid. But then he tells you that he’s tied Trish to one building, and, yes “10 doctors” to the other one! I was completely dumbfounded. I’m not sure what world you have to exist in to write that scene. 10 doctors! Oh no! That’s a lot of doctors.

      I’m playing evil, so I chose to save Trish. Again, I want to emphasize how this decision meant nothing; the choice a real person would make in this unreal, stupid situation is so hilariously constructed, I couldn’t place it in a sensible spectrum of human reactions. The result was both silly and surprising. I’m done with it, done with the whole game until I beat the awesome Red Faction, or until my conscience makes me go back and beat it.

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