E3 2008: inFamous
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action
Taking a vast departure from their previous titles, Brian Fleming, co-founder of Sucker Punch, sat us down for a look into the world of their upcoming title inFamous. As they prepare to release their fourth title for Sony in Spring of 09, how exactly did a team who created kid friendly, cel-shaded platformers about a squirrel and other furry friends go about creating a dark world where a new super hero is born before your eyes? That is part of what makes inFamous so unique.
In inFamous, players control Cole. Cole is a regular guy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the beginning of the game, you will see that Empire City was laid to ruin for over six blocks. Nobody survived the blast except for you. As you slowly recover from the blast, Cole realizes he has these supernatural powers to control electricity. Players begin the game by slowly mastering your powers--becoming more and more powerful--and choosing to do good or evil for the people of Empire City.
When we sat down with the team at Sucker Punch, Brian Fleming had this to say: “This is a big departure and new look for us that we are very excited about. We have always been big fans of comic books and superheroes and this was our opportunity to get into this space. We wanted to create a game from the ground up that was a super hero story where the powers and characters were designed with interactive entertainment in mind instead of narrative. This has really grown from our experience from Sly. In addition, we wanted to create a living city where citizens react to what your character does. Are you going to be famous for being good or inFamous for being evil? We also go through the psychological side [with the hero] dealing with am I crazy, can I really control lightning? But more than that, we go through the moral side--which all superhero stories should tell. Am I going to be careful and play nice or am I going to lay waste to the city? We really wanted to the civilian population to react to the things you do depending on how you are behaving. This is a very modern super hero story in the style of something like Batman Begins.”
Sadly, Sucker Punch is still keeping a lot quiet. When asked about specifics on how the moral choices you make will have impact on the game world and how people react to you, they told us no comment. When pressed harder, they suggested we use our imagination and think about how we would want people to react and what kinds of impact we would want our choices to have in the world.
They also remained silent on how players would interact with the story. Because inFamous is a open world sandbox title, I expressed concerns on how other games in the genre have certain trigger points to select a mission or to advance the story. While the team remained tight-lipped about specifics, Game Director Nate Fox did say that they are working to make the transition from gameplay to story as seamless as possible.
The gameplay mechanics in inFamous play out like a classic Spider-Man game. Cole was a great climber before gaining his super powers and he uses this to climb on walls and other types of surfaces. You will also have to take advantage of these surfaces to provide cover against enemies you face. Cole uses no weapons other than his electrical powers and because of this, he can use those powers to make objects in the world conduct electricity to harm others. For example, if someone is standing behind a car shooting at you, players can Zap lightning at the car and it will feed through it and get the foe. While this works to the player’s advantage--all superheroes also have weaknesses. Neither Fleming or Fox would go into detail but it appears that Water is what our hero has difficulties with. Your enemies will try to use your weaknesses against you but we were not given any other details or shown any specific examples other than to use our imaginations.
When asked about the inspiration for inFamous, Brian Fleming mentioned that they had a few real life incidents that led to the development process. They used the some heated protests and riots in Seattle for inspiration on how to make the civilian population react in the game world. We weren’t able to see these elements of the game play out and this may lead into how the people react to you. However, another one of Fleming’s experiences was that early on in the development process, the city of Seattle had a major power outage. This lasted for days and days. During this time, he and the team at Sucker Punch realized just how important electricity is to a city and how losing it can have some major impacts to how people function. This gave them new ideas to use electricity for the main character, Cole, in inFamous.
To showcase this example, Fleming and Fox showed off a section of the game where there is a power outage. Cole relies on electricity to boost his powers and a power outage is one way where he gets weakened. As the power went off, a villain with super powers of their own emerges and tries to kill Cole. Both Brian Fleming and Nate Fox remained tightlipped on who this other character was, how they got their powers, or how many villains like this there were. They did reveal that there will be many super villains in the world and possibly one main villain to rival Cole. It is also sounding like your moral choices may impact how you exist with these villains.
Sucker Punch gave us a very small taste of inFamous and really left us with wanting to know more. While we were promised to be shown more later--even with what little we were shown, this is definitely one of the most promising titles at E3 and is exclusive to the PlayStation 3. We are looking forward to inFamous and can only hope Spring of 2009 gets here as fast as possible!