InFamous review

  • Cutscenes and story are striking, well-written
  • Powers are fun to play around with
  • Good-evil choices mean more replayability
  • First half starts strong, then kind of plods
  • A lot of the side missions are repetitive busywork
  • Empire City just isn't much fun to explore

Open-world superhero games and plot-altering moral decisions are nothing new by themselves, but stick them together and you’ve got… well, you’ve got Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. But throw in lightning powers, riots, out-of-control gangs that hunt in packs and lots of ruined buildings to climb, and you’ve got inFamous, the story of a wall-climbing wild talent trapped in a city gone mad.


Centering around gruff bike messenger-turned-reluctant superhero Cole McGrath, inFamous is fun enough as a free-roaming romp, but it’s disappointingly full of rough edges. Disappointing mainly because it comes from Sucker Punch, a studio from which we’ve come to expect great things after the mostly stellar Sly Cooper series. Maybe it’s our fault for setting our expectations too high, but what we hoped would be a great game ended up being just good.

Still, “good” is definitely worth your time, and inFamous has a lot of cool things to offer. The game opens with the apparent terrorist bombing and subsequent military quarantine of Empire City, a town that feels like a cross between New York, Seattle and a massive hobo camp. Caught at the epicenter of the blast, Cole not only survives, but gains electrical superpowers in the bargain.

Above: One of those superpowers is the eventual ability to grind on power lines, which is awesome 

He’s not the only one, either, and in the lawlessness following the disaster, Empire City’s been carved up by three huge street gangs led by supervillains called “Conduits.” Conduits range from hulking brutes who roam alongside the regular, interchangeable gun-toting gang members (and who, in later stages, can become gigantic or create robotic exoskeletons) to the game’s bosses, all of whom share a connection to a secret society called the First Sons.

With the city engulfed in chaos, it isn’t long before Cole’s pressed into service by the FBI, who want him to find a mysterious object called the Ray Sphere – oh, and if he could also single-handedly return order to the city, that would be just swell.

Above: Much has been made of inFamous’ slick “graphic-novel” cutscenes - here’s one from just after the third mission

At Cole’s disposal is a roster of electrical superpowers that gradually expands as he restores power to the city. Starting out with little more than a quick lightning blast and the ability to heal yourself by leeching power from anything that carries a charge, you’ll rapidly earn new abilities, many of which mimic the functions of guns in other games. Precision, for example, enables you to zoom in on enemies (and slow time) with sniper-like efficiency, while Shockwave is a concussive, shotgun-like blast that can also deflect missiles. The Megawatt Hammer works like a ball-lightning rocket launcher, the advanced Lightning Storm is basically a laser-satellite strike and the Shock Grenades stick to enemies, which is hilarious.

Above: You’ll probably end up relying on Precision a lot 

You’ll be able to upgrade these powers differently depending on the choices you make in the game. Every so often, you’ll be confronted by a moral dilemma – rescue a lynching victim, or ignore him? Help a dying man, or step over his body and steal his treasure? – and your choice will affect your Karma meter. Karma’s also earned or lost dynamically by doing things like healing civilians (you’re a walking defibrillator, after all) or blowing up moving vehicles. Speaking of which, be warned: if you’re trying to be a good guy, keep a careful eye out for puddles. Electricity plus puddles equals people die.

Above: Oops 

Make heroic choices and avoid unnecessary murder, and not only will you get helpful, power-boosting upgrades, but the citizens will rally to cheer you on and even throw rocks at your enemies. Err too heavily on the side of selfishness, however, and you’ll become a twisted Sith lord who shoots red lightning bolts, gets explosive upgrades and inspires terror and disgust everywhere he goes.

Above: Also you can suck the life energy from civilians 

As for the “restoring power” part we mentioned earlier, that’s actually a pretty clever idea. Not only are the game’s second and third islands blocked off until chapter-ending boss fights open them up, but Cole is effectively barred from wandering into certain neighborhoods while the power is out. See, without an active electrical grid, Cole’s powers weaken, his vision goes blurry and he loses his ability to heal. And because these areas are always swarming with enemies, wandering into them without a reason is an excellent way to die quickly.

So instead, Cole has to wait until he gets an order from his FBI handler to restore power to an area, at which point it’s time to delve into the sewers (did we mention deep water is deadly to Cole?) to hunt for power substations and turn the juice back on. Once that’s done, he’ll be granted a new ability, and a new area of the map will be made safe to explore.


Unfortunately, actual exploration is the weakest part of the game, mainly because Empire City itself just isn’t that interesting. Sure, it’s pretty cool to bounce around on buildings at first, and once you’ve unlocked the second island, the number of fascinating and bizarre landmarks shoots up significantly (and includes a couple of huge, crumbling ruins that are a blast to climb).

Above: OK, getting up here is kind of fun 

But in the main, it’s often difficult to tell which part of the city you’re in without checking the map. Few of the neighborhoods really have a distinct look or character, the miles of waterfront all look mostly identical and several of the city’s plazas and alleyways are similar enough to feel like they were rubber-stamped into the world. And with cars off-limits, there’s no rapid way to travel from one end of the city to the other apart from grinding on power lines or train tracks, or climbing up somewhere high and then gliding slowly to the ground. While those are both a lot faster than walking, they'll still take a while to get you where you need to go.

More Info

Release date: May 26 2009 - PS3 (US)
May 29 2009 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Sucker Punch
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - September 18, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    It goes back too far, and no one cares about infamous 1 any more. If someone did find this oddity of people claiming the last post, I don't think they'd care.
  • loonyman978 - May 6, 2013 4:01 a.m.

    I really hope someone finds all this someday
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - March 13, 2012 10:44 a.m.

    This is still happening?
  • loonyman978 - December 29, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    Why hello there...
  • Pocotron - August 22, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    Ohai dur!
  • AKALMoumen - June 15, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    Ok I've been following this site for quite a while now and I really enjoy the humor the add to each article and analogy they have as you can see I'm very new to the site and before I start I just want to clarify so I wouldn't be classified a "Fanboy" because apperently to crowed of the website who ever diisagrees with the holy "Opinion" of the reviewer is classified as a mindless perk following a mindless trend. So I have played an arsenal of different videogames such as halo,Uncharted,Fable,FF, Doom and many others made by different companies for different platforms thus I get to my point I'v been always an Advocator of storytelling mixed with mechanics and physics that are suburb in everything whiter a book, a game or a movie, because I feel that for me to play the game I need a purpose thus the story, and for me to reach that purpose I need to have fun thus the mechanics, and for me to have fun I need to enjoy the location and set pieces thus the physics and for all of this to work I need and interesting diverse cast of characters to connect me to the game and make it all that more personal of an experience thus I've come to depend on the best companies providing the best games, but looking that we are in an ever changing world I've also become an advocate of the new, thus comes my obsession with BioShock, Assassin's Creed, Mirrors Edge, and inFamous (what why?) because inFamous uses things that I've never seen from all the aspect (mentioned earlier)I've seen a parkor using superhero in a decaying city mentally balancing himself between good and evil but can't and every decision he make takes him deeper down the rabbit hole thus his inability to be neutral and from here you see sucker punch not just trying to break away from it' known franchise but from the norm creating an extremely interesting world in a what if situation that's a complete mind fuck by the end. so at the end I argue the Reviewer to replay the game and think as if he's experiencing something new and different that drives a coherent understanding weaving story rather than give you all the tools of destruction and tell ok her you go little boy go fuck the whole world and why do I ask this is because you have a very ambient following that listens to your Opinion thus you see them saying that yea it does suck and anyone who disagrees is a fanboy your really want your audience to be this one Dimensional thank you
  • Cloud1Fair3 - June 12, 2011 5:52 p.m.

    I haven't played prototype and I just downloaded this game for the psn welcome back. I rented before and didn't like it cause I kept getting painted by snipers on my first playthrough. It turns out I just sucked and was being dumb running into unpowered territory with no clue how to play. I stumbled across this review looking for an InFamous 2 review so that's why I'm 2 years late. But I have to say, personally, this is one of the funnest and most enjoyable games I own. It seriously rocks and I need to go and buy InFamous 2 now cause it's bound to be even better. I disagree with this review, compared to other games that have been reviewed, I'd say this game is equally as enjoyable as any of GR's 9 score games. Even playing it in 2011, I think it's aged quite well.
  • loonyman978 - April 28, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    nope. Im still checking back here because its actually more fun than studying..
  • XLGirthMan - April 24, 2011 7:37 a.m.

    Hey guys! Am I late to the party?
  • loonyman978 - March 22, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    naaah, i just spent a weekend playing the original medal of honor that came with the reboot. its a good game, but the amount of trophies you get out of it is insane!
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - March 19, 2011 7:37 p.m.

    I've stopped going for the trophies, they've really stopped me from enjoying games and I always feel like I'm wasting time if I go back to play an old game.
  • loonyman978 - January 25, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Yup, same here. I've got two platinums easily now i just need to do the challenges in sly 3 and i'll have boosted my trophies to level 13!
  • Pocotron - January 23, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    I absolutely LOVE SLY COOPER. That is the best purchase I've made in a while.
  • loonyman978 - January 22, 2011 12:24 a.m.

    i got the sly collection and its awesome!!! you NEED to get these games! they're challenging without being stupidly hard, with amazing graphics and stories. Im gutted i didnt get them when the first came out
  • ThundaGawd - January 13, 2011 4:52 a.m.

    Meh, I wasn't really planning on getting this game anyways, but it dropped down to 15$ for the holidays, so I picked this up along with Killzone 2, and I can safely say, I'm glad I did :). Coming from the guys who made the Sly Cooper series, I had no real trouble with the controls and the lack of vehicles. The controls are very similar and the cover system saved my a$$ multiple times, plus, it's a hell of a lot more useful than Killzone 2's cover sytem. Just trying to crouch down to get an accurate shot with my chaingun only to run to the nearest wall where an enemy JUST SO HAPPENED to throw a grenade... But I'm excited for Killzone 3 (I know it's a little unrelated) being able to slide to cover like in Army Of Two and Vanquish looks like fun.
  • Pocotron - January 2, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    It is now 2011 omigosh
  • loonyman978 - December 31, 2010 8:55 p.m.

    happy christmas everyone!! and happy new year as well!!
  • jscriber100 - December 30, 2010 3:57 p.m.

    i agree.prototype and infamous are 2 very different games.the only thing similiar is the free roam in the cities.i personally think that prototype is better.
  • Pocotron - December 27, 2010 3:58 a.m.

    I think we can get this to 500 comments easily.
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - December 22, 2010 10:37 p.m.

    Neither do I, I just keep forgetting :D

Showing 1-20 of 490 comments

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