As ever, I spent a bit of time playing Noby Noby Boy today. There was no Valkyria Chronicles because the inFamous demo appeared yesterday on the EU Store (and also the US one now), so I spent a couple of hours playing that instead.
I’ve been looking forward to this game for quite a while. Videos and screenshots made it look very much like Crackdown, the Xbox 360 game from Realtime Worlds with a similar overall concept – super-powered man with the ability to scale buidlings with ease is unleashed into a sandbox city filled with enemies – which is a game I enjoyed a lot. I had worried that I was perhaps attaching expecations to inFamous of things that Sucker Punch weren’t even trying to do, based on a few superficial similarities to a game I enjoyed, but thankfully those worries seem to be misplaced.
The Crackdown similarities hold up well, and within moments of starting up the demo I was scaling buildings and hunting collectibles in exactly the same way I used to in that game. The climbing mechanic sits somewhere between Assassin’s Creed‘s relatively slow, smooth, meticulous scaling of ledges and footholds and Crackdown‘s wild leaps from handhold to handhold, and works well. Cole is almost magnetically drawn to handholds as he leaps, falls or glides past them, so as long as you get yourself in the general area there’s little chance of him failing to take hold.
Of course, Cole is actually a rather different kind of superhuman to Crackdown‘s nameless agent, and has all his powers rooted in electricity. The demo begins with what is presumably the full game’s opening cutscene, showing some kind of large electromagnetic event that pulses across the city. It then switches to 2D animated scenes (which are apparently used heavily throughout the game) of Cole explaining that lots of people have died, a virus has been unleashed and the city has been quarantined and left to fall apart. Cole, one of the few people to survive exposure to the pulse – and believed by many to actually be its cause – develops the ability to control electricity and takes it upon himself to clean up the city.
Cole’s basic attack is simply firing rapid bolts of electricity at a target, and in gameplay terms essentially seems to function like a powerful pistol. In the demo there also shock grenades (balls of electricity that explode when thrown) and a shockwave attack, a blast of force that knocks enemies back (similar to one of the Apprentice’s powers in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed). Cole can also crash down from a great height to wound and knock down nearby enemies (which, incidentally, was also a move in Crackdown) and has a powerful lightning storm attack.
Everything except the basic lightning bolt costs energy, which slowly regenerates on its own or can be replenished from any of the electricity sources (televisions, lampposts, neon signs etc.) throughout the city. Some missions apparently take place in blackout zones where electricity sources are scarce, but there’s none of that in the demo and electricity sources are in plentiful supply.
The demo itself is surprisingly large, containing four missions. The first is the biggest and has Cole riding a train full of prisoners across the city, clearing the track of obstacles and enemies and restoring power to sections of the track that have been sabotaged. The second seems to be a quick side-mission (which make sections of the city safe from enemies) to clear enemies from a water tower, while the third is a lengthy ‘siege’ mission that has Cole protecting a crate of medical supplies from multiple waves of enemies. The demo ends with another side-mission, destroying a heavily-guarded truck full of ‘tar’ (which may be the substance infecting people) that is moving across the city.
There’s a karma system in the game, which affects Cole’s appearance and his abilities, and the demo switches you between the two extremes (Hero and Infamous) across the missions to show you the differences. The most notable difference was with the electritcity grenades, which as Hero seemed to be single explosions but as Infamous they split into several smaller explosions (more likely to kill nearby civilians). The karma levels seem locked in the demo, because I tried killing civilians as Hero and suffered no penalty, whereas in the full game that would surely have an impact.
I actually found the game surprisingly difficult. The demo was set to easy when I started it up, so I immediately bumped it up to normal, and died often. I think part of it goes back to the Crackdown association, with me possibly treating Cole like a sturdy Crackdown agent instead of what he is, a man with power over electricity who cannot simply run into a group of enemies and emerge victorious. I think I’ve learned my lesson there though.
Overall then my response to the demo is a positive one. Sucker Punch seem to have created a great superhero game in a robust open-world environment with lots to do. As long as the variety of missions keeps up for the full game inFamous could end up being a very fun game indeed. Judging by its critical reception – currently sitting at a respectable 87/100 on Metacritic – that does seem to be the case, and I’m looking forward to it.
In fact, I only have one minor quibble with the demo, and it’s quite possibly a strange one: I couldn’t get knocked down by a car. I derive a weird level of amusement from having my character knocked down by vehicles in these sandbox city games and watching them go into completely limp ragdoll mode (with Saint’s Row 2‘s Adrenaline Mode taking this to wonderfully ridiculous extremes), but however much I tried I could not get Cole hit by a car. They seemed to stop almost immediately whenever I ran in front of them, making it impossible to be knocked down. Perhaps there are parts of the main game where cars are moving faster and less able to stop before they hit Cole. Once I have the game I’ll be sure to extensively research this important subject.
Noby Noby Boy
It appears I may have been incorrect in my post yesterday when I suggested that Takahashi may have found the sweet spot in Girl’s growth, and may keep the multiplier around 40-50 for some time. My nephew tells me that this morning his contribution was being multiplied by 108, the largest we’ve seen so far. When we started it up later in the day this had increased again up to a ridiculous 765, so anybody playing today for even a brief time is likely going to be contributing at least one million.
According to the fairy character Girl grew by 3.4 billion metres yesterday, so must have been around 13 to 15 billion by the day’s end. When we left the game today Girl was at 66.8 billion, so Mars will almost definitely be unlocked tomorrow (if not within hours), and this dance can start all over again.
inFamous images: Eurogamer Gallery
Noby Noby Boy: Personal Screenshot