This is out of the ordinary for this site. I don’t normally review video games because there are sites and YouTube channels out there who can do it a hell of a lot better than I can (just like with the movies and TV stuff that I deal with) BUT, I felt an urge to play through the first two games of the ‘inFAMOUS’ trilogy and there’s one thing that I would like to see happen with these games that I may need your help with.
All in good time. First, some backstory.
I love video games. There we go, all caught up. Not really. More specifically, I love video games about things that couldn’t happen in real life. I really do embrace the ‘fantasy’ aspect of video games down to the ground and something like ‘inFAMOUS’ suits me perfectly well. I even recorded myself playing all three games for my YouTube gaming channel when that’s what I was doing.
Let’s get into some story. There will be spoilers now so if you haven’t played them then I would heartily suggest buying them. The first game came out 10 years ago so you can get it dirt cheap. Sadly, all three games are Playstation exclusive so if you only own an XBOX then, tough shit.
Also, if you know about the first ‘inFAMOUS’ and were drawn into this article by the title, then skip to the end because that’s the bit that I would really like you to see.
The first two games centre around Cole MacGrath who starts out as a bicycle courier in Empire City where he lives with his girlfriend, Trish and gets up to mischief with his best friend, Zeke. But Cole’s life is about to change forever when he is told to open a package that he was specifically meant to deliver and it blows up, destroying 6 square blocks, killing thousands and sending the city into chaos.
Cole survives the explosion despite being at the dead centre but finds that he has gained the ability to shoot electricity out of his hands. Not only that but he can manipulate the electricity into bolts, grenades and bloody great lightening storms. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
As we learn through the game, Cole is a conduit which is a person who can gain special abilities. The ‘conduit gene’ is something that only select people are born with and can awaken at anytime in their lives. For Cole, his powers were awakened when he accidently activated ‘The Ray Sphere’ and the neuro-electric energy from all those people who died where absorbed into Cole’s body.
It’s handy that Cole did end up with superpowers because after the blast, a plague ravaged the city and turned hardened criminals into even more hardened criminals. Depending on which three Islands you reside in the game, they could be ‘The Reapers’ in the Neon, ‘The Dust Men’ in the Warren or ‘The First Sons’ in the Historic District to give them in ascending order and also gives a nice difficulty curve.
What I like about the ‘inFAMOUS’ games is that the story and the gameplay blend together seamlessly. I’ll explain what I mean.
All the cool things I mentioned in the last but one paragraph are all powers that are unlocked throughout the game. Early on, Cole meets ‘Moya’, a shadowy government lady who knows all about Cole and the Ray Sphere and helps Cole behind the scenes in cleaning up the city and building up his power base. She also needs Cole to find her husband, John and if he finds him then Moya will organise for Cole and Co to be evacuated from Empire City.
Empire City is fuelled by underground substations and since Cole cannot function without electricity, it’s up to him to reactivate the substations. To do this, Cole must re-stablish the connection and since his body doesn’t mind the high voltage, it’s easy for him to do it by hand. With each substation, Cole gains a new power and so his transformation is gradual with the most powerful and spectacular attacks saved for the end.
This game does have a ‘moral choice’ system that personally I’m not fond of because all it does is interrupt the game every now and again while Cole has a little internal deliberation but after the first one, the player has already chosen their path and you have to be all ‘Good’ or all ‘Evil’ to unlock the best power upgrades and stand a chance against the final boss.
The only big differences between the two paths are some choice portions of dialogue, some cutscenes and one bit at the end that I’ll talk about when I get there. The major difference is some side missions. You get the standard side missions that are for either karmic path but to enhance your karmic level there are some ‘Good’ or ‘Evil’ side missions, but you can’t play both. As soon as you’ve completed one, the opposite karma mission is locked and un-playable. There are 15 karma-based side missions in total so it’s up to you whether you want to play the whole game again to experience the differences.
I’m mentioning this now because the ‘Good’ path and indeed the ‘Good’ ending is the canonical ending although the ending isn’t all that different from the ‘Evil’ ending, you still get the same outcome. However, I will continue with the ‘Good’ path since it’s the one that game historians will remember.
One other thing that changes depending on your karmic path is how the police and the citizens of Empire City treat you. In the early stages, the citizens hate Cole because they think he’s a terrorist and will shout things at him. If Cole is Evil, citizens will shout things and throw rocks whilst the police will attack Cole just like the other enemies. In fairness, Evil Cole isn’t all that nice to the police either. On the flip side, the citizens love Good Cole and close to the end of the Neon section, the residents see that Cole is helping people and they will cheer and gather around him, taking pictures etc. However, there is a downside to being Good Cole when it comes to dealing with the residents of Empire City. For some reason, the residents feel it necessary to help Cole out in battle and can I just vent my frustration at fighting a load of Dust Men in the street, only to lose Good karma because some random person decided to run in front of my bolts whilst trying to punch the guy I was fighting. I know they’re doing it with the best of intentions but they’re just in the way.
Cole isn’t the only conduit in town, there are three other ‘Prime’ conduits and it seems that two of them have a special interest in Cole personally. Sasha is the leader of the Reapers and controls them using a special ‘mind-controlling’ tar that apparently is her ability. During a mission where Cole must stop the tar from entering the water system and making all of the Neon sick, Cole is blasted in the face with the tar and has hallucinations where Sasha is speaking to him about how much she loves him and how she hates Trish. I second that motion. It’s the one thing that Sasha and I agree on.
I don’t know what the aim was on behalf of the writers, but they don’t make Trish into a likeable person at all. When Cole is outed as the last person to be seen with the package that exploded and is branded a terrorist, Trish hates him because her sister, Amy died in the blast. She spends a good chunk of the game treating him like shit, but she eventually softens up to him when she sees that Cole is helping people and is not a terrorist. Unless you’re Evil, in which case she just keeps on hating him.
I don’t know how long Cole and Trish have been together but surely after seeing how sad she was while caring for Cole after the blast, she must love him and know that he is not a terrorist. For arguments sake, even if she had doubts about his character, she doesn’t give him a chance to explain. She just walks away. Also, Cole mentions that he remembers holding the package and then someone calling him and telling him to open it and then waking up in a crater (where the game begins), wouldn’t she be able to put two and two together and realise that he was holding the bomb and that he was not responsible? Also, also, Zeke is Cole’s best friend and he believes him, and so wouldn’t she be able to take the word of someone who’s known her boyfriend for years when he says that he isn’t a terrorist?
Also, the most abominable missions are at her behest. The two that stick out in my mind are ‘Trish Reaches Out’ where Cole has to defend a crate of medical supplies (because she’s a nurse, I didn’t mention that earlier) from wave after wave of every kind of Reaper and takes many attempts because the wire fence stops Cole’s electricity but doesn’t stop the Reaper’s bullets and those barrels don’t offer any cover and just get in the way. The other is ‘Anything for Trish’ where Cole has to stand on top of bus that’s transporting patients to the Warren district and is frustrating in so many ways because it’s impossible to know where the ‘bus-destroying’ rockets are coming from when ‘Rocket-Reapers’ and ‘Machine-gun Reapers’ both look the same at first glance and stopping to look gives the other five Rocket Reapers enough time to blow your health away.
That sounds like a bad thing, but the game seems to realise that these missions are unfair and so is generous with the checkpoints so it’s not too bad.
The cutscenes in the game are not your standard affair which I find gives ‘inFAMOUS’ its own identity. Whilst these days, cutscenes are fully rendered cinematic ventures and the gamer is fully within the knowledge that these cutscenes where filmed with the actors wearing the tight mo-cap suits that leave nothing to the imagination.
Instead of that, the cutscenes in ‘inFAMOUS’ are comic-book panels that are narrated by Cole which upon description might make the story a bit ludicrous, but it’s played so serious that I don’t get that impression.
Some of the stuff in this game is ludicrous especially when Cole arrives in the Warren district and the resident enemies, the Dust Men are dubbed the ‘trash-baggers’ because they’ve dressed themselves in garbage and construct robots out of junk. The Warren’s bad guy, Alden Tate, is a psychic homeless man and is all powerful despite being old and frail. It’s all stuff that you’d expect from a Saturday morning cartoon for kids but again, it’s played so seriously that I can’t help but get absorbed.
Back to the story.
Once Cole arrives in the Historic district, he’s partnered up with John who’s not Moya’s husband but an NSA agent who was sent to infiltrate the First Sons and monitor Kessler (the main baddie) as he constructs ‘The Ray Sphere’.
John’s story is told through dead drops that are left around the city in an optional collection quest. Zeke mentions that Moya works for DARPA and they are revealed to have helped Kessler fund the Ray Sphere project and so they are the bad guys. Moya has some powerful connections and wants Cole to recover the Ray Sphere so she can have it but John wants the Ray Sphere so it can be destroyed which sounds good to Cole, but Cole wants Kessler for a personal matter.
The first main story mission upon arriving in the Historic district is called ‘The Price’. Kessler kidnaps various citizens and straps them up with explosives. Cole defuses the bombs despite it taking a few attempts when I was playing because the First Sons take quite a few volts to the face to be put down and those flying things that explode in your face are very much not appreciated. After freeing the citizens, Kessler reveals that he’s strung up Trish from one building and six doctors from another building. Cole has enough time to rescue either Trish or the doctors but not both. He must choose.
This is another karma event so if you’re good then you’ll go for the doctors because they can save more lives and naughty boys will go for Trish because they’re selfish. It doesn’t matter though because Trish dies anyway. If you go for Trish, then it’s revealed that she’s disguised as one of the six doctors that are dropped from the other building. In the second to last mission, Cole and John arrive at the Ray Sphere and here is the last karma decision.
Here is my gameplay tip. If you like what you’ve seen so far (and don’t mind the spoilers) and decide to play the game for yourself, always be Evil on you’re first playthrough. It’s honestly easier and the final decision totally breaks the game.
When Cole and John arrive at the Ray Sphere, Cole has two choices. He can destroy the Ray Sphere and fulfil his karmic destiny to be a superhero or he can activate the Ray Sphere again, kill even more people and become twice as powerful. If you activate the Ray Sphere, the final boss fight is SO EASY. However (and this is from personal experience), destroying the Ray Sphere and doing the last boss fight with Kessler as a superhero is entirely possibly but harder in my opinion. Once again there are checkpoints throughout the battle, but Kessler has some ‘dick-move’ attacks such as chucking a shockwave at you and spawning gigantic versions of himself and if you don’t shoot every single one before it reaches you whilst dodging Kessler’s other attacks, then that’s an instant kill. Or it was for me at least. I’ve only ever done the final boss fight on Good once and that took about 20 minutes and I died a few times from that one attack alone. For the rest, once you learn the patterns then it’s OK. Either that or I’ve gotten a lot better since the last time I played it.
Once you’ve defeated Kessler, the last cutscene plays and it basically sets up ‘inFAMOUS 2’. Kessler is actually Cole from the future and in an alternate timeline, Cole married Trish and they had two children but then ‘The Beast’ showed up and destroyed most of the world. Conduits exist in that universe and Cole chose to flee with his family rather than fight the Beast but Trish and his children died in the attack and so Cole changed his name to Kessler, came back in time, set up the First Sons, developed the Ray Sphere and was responsible for giving Cole his powers. Basically, Kessler has been training Cole throughout the game and even went so far as to kill Trish (his future wife) so he wouldn’t be tied down and free to kill the Beast.
I have a few problems with the explanation. I totally get that Kessler is Cole from the future, that’s fine. What I don’t understand is if Kessler wanted Cole to be alive so he could fight the Beast, then why did he try and kill Cole at the end? Cole wanted to kill him so why fight back? You got what you wanted; Cole is a superhero/villain. All you have to do is tell Cole about the Beast and then let him kill you. It would have been anti-climactic for the players, but it makes more sense than risk killing your younger self. Or maybe it was a final test, but would you take that risk?
Also, why did he go to all that bother with giving his younger self powers? Kessler is already a powerhouse. If you’re that bothered, use the Ray Sphere on yourself and then wait for the Beast to turn up. You’ve already got an army in the First Sons, wouldn’t that make the fight easier?
The final, final cutscene after the credits is also different depending on what Karma level you are. On ‘Evil’, Cole is happy about being an evil bastard and destroying Empire City with the second Ray Sphere blast. All the survivors of the explosion are now his slaves.
I don’t like this Karma path and ending personally because I like to complete all the side missions and the majority of them are about building Empire City back up to what it was before the blast only to have it all destroyed again in the second to last mission leaves me a bit sour.
However, the good karma ending cutscene is a bit depressing. Cole speaks about how he’s lost so much and although the citizens love him, there will be a time when they need him, and he won’t be there, and he doesn’t know how they will react to that. He ends by saying, ‘I’ve never been more alone’. Brood much?
Anyway, Cole knows about the Beast and realises his destiny, and all this sets the stage for ‘inFAMOUS 2’ which is definitely my favourite of all three games.
I love the first ‘inFAMOUS’ so much and the reason why I’m writing this article and talking about this game despite it having been out for 10 years is precisely because it’s been out for 10 years. This game was released in the early years of the PS3 and I have to say that in my opinion, it hasn’t aged well. Not when compared to say, ‘inFAMOUS: Second Son’ which was one of the launch titles for the PS4. I actually bought a PS4 bundled with ‘inFAMOUS: Second Son’ just so I could play it because it looks so pretty.
Even ‘inFAMOUS 2’ has far improved graphics despite is being on the same console and under the same developer. I’m guessing its different engines, but I don’t know which.
So, to finish, I’m calling upon Sony and Sucker Punch to sink a bit of money into tarting up the original ‘inFAMOUS’ and giving it a badly deserved remaster for the Playstation 4. I know it can be done and I would pay good money just to have the original ‘inFAMOUS’ on my PS4. Think how much money you could make by remastering ‘inFAMOUS 1 & 2’ and bundling them with ‘inFAMOUS: Second Son’. Again, I would pay good money just to own them again but looking like a current generation game.
OR… what about this for a brainwave?
Since the PS5 is most likely coming out next year, why not remaster the games for that? Sure, it might cost more but fans are willing to pay extortionate amounts of money for various editions of any of the games as long as they get some shiny trinkets like Cole’s sling bag or Delsin’s hat and some comics and some other things. I would have done it if I’d have known about it or had the money. I already own all three games but my birthday’s coming up soon and I like look of that sling bag.
The ‘inFAMOUS 2: Hero Edition’ comes with the game (obviously); an 8.5 inch statue of Cole, a life-size replica of Cole’s sling bag, the DC comics depicting the two weeks in between the Empire City blast and the start of the first main mission, a PS3 Voucher, the soundtrack to ‘inFAMOUS 2’ and some in-game extras. That is on sale on Amazon for £200. £200!! People paid for that so what makes you think that they wouldn’t pay for a full-on remaster of the first two games?
Market the shit out of it and I guarantee you’ll make your money back and way more on top. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? You know it does.
I really am going to finish now. At present, there are no plans for a remaster of the original game or even a sequel to ‘Second Son’, and I know that Sony won’t make it happen unless they know that there’s an audience for it. I want this and I know the other fans want this as well. If the ‘Uncharted’ series can get a PS4 remaster, then why not ‘inFAMOUS’?
Come on, Sony. You know it makes sense.
By the way, have you seen my book yet? It’s really good and written by me.