Think Grand Theft Auto with superpowers

20May09

At 1:00 PM PST today, Nate Fox and David Meyer opened up the floor to fans and chatted live on the PlayStation.Blog for a half hour about the upcoming Infamous game from Sucker Punch. So what was revealed during the Q&A session? I’ve got a run-down right here.

Concept

Cole McGrath, the main character, begins as a bike messenger. “Well, bike messengers are counter-culture figures that make sense in an urban environment,” Nate Fox explains, “but they don’t really follow the law. Plus, Cole is supposed to be a guy who has not got a lot of prospects, so it makes sense.” Jason Cottle provides the voice-acting for the static-charged bike messenger.

That's a lot of ground to cover on bike. Good thing you have handy super-powers.

You’ll have people to care about and save. “Where would Superman be without Lois Lane?” Inspirations for the game were drawn from Batman Begins as well as the comics DMZ and BATMAN: NO MAN’S LAND. “It is a sincere pleasure to be able to zip along the rooftops, spot a mugging down in an alley, jump down there building up a charge all the way, and smash into a villain’s head. It’s just … it’s the core super hero patrol fantasy.”

Fans will be happy to know that there are indeed stray Sly Cooper references in the game, especially around movie theaters.

Good Versus Evil

Cole’s powers are manipulated by his moral decisions, and whether you course through the game as the hero or villain impacts the play style of the game. “Really you get two very different play-throughs depending on which side of the moral fence you land on,” says Fox. Even the 2D, stylized cutscenes you end up viewing rely on whether you’re good and evil, but ultimately you’ll face the same threats despite what team you play for.

Use the Force, Cole. Or, uh, electricity.

Use the Force, Cole. Or, uh, electricity.

Mission variety plays an extremely important role in open-world games, so the creators incorporated a wealth of opportunities for players to check out along the way. Completing side missions will not only make the streets safer, but also a lot less cumbersome; cutting down the number of thugs trying to shoot you will come in handy down the line. There are three gangs in the game: the Reapers, the Dustmen, and the First Sons. If you decide to cause crime rather than clean it up, you’ll soon be working side-by-side with the baddies. The city and its inhabitants will react to you, good or evil. If they approve of you, positive posters will appear around the city; if you become infamous, they’ll spread anti-Cole propaganda around the dirty infrastructure.

Your abilities evolve over time. For example, the grind function seen in trailers won’t be available from the start, but you can unlock it as you develop the character. Powers differ depending on whether your karma changes to good or evil; some people might find being good easier than evil, or vice versa. Fox adds, “The good shock waves allow you to shoot guys out of the air like skeet, while the evil version allows you turn cars into huge bombs.” If you decide you want to turn over a new leaf, your Karma meter will allow for you to make amends and play the hero.

In addition, your electrical capacity can be altered throughout the game. Some choices you make will reduce your power charge, while finding blast shards will boost your limit. As you progress, you’ll gain experience points that will allow you to upgrade the powers you want. “Your Cole McGrath and my Cole McGrath will not be the same character,” states Fox.

Gameplay

Robots versus an electric man. Hmm, tough one.

Robots versus an electric man. Hmm, tough one.

You can’t exactly go anywhere you’d like in Empire City at first. The city is over 100 hexes, each the size of one Sly Cooper open world exterior. In other words, “big enough to get lost in but not so big that it’s a pain in the ass to get around.” When you complete the game, 99% of the areas will be accessible. The remaining 1% will be locked down. The city resembles the real-world NYC, but tweaked enough to make it more of a playground that Cole can freely climb and explore. “Old brick buildings work better than skyscrapers.” After all, he’s not Spider-Man!

There are a variety of ways to move around the city. “Obviously you can walk,” points out Fox, “but you can also ride trains, climb buildings, slide on high voltage lines, etc. And you can use static thrust to float between buildings. You know … super hero things.” You can even cruise on top of cars. An automated checkpoint system will save your progress and ensure that you don’t end up retreading the same ground over and over again.

What can you interact with? Virtually everything. The whole city has been rigged to act as a giant power grid, and all the metal in the game will conduct electricity appropriately. “We really wanted to become a super hero simulator where the player got to experience an origin story,” mentions Fox. You’ll know when you take damage thanks to visual effects cues, and Cole will be able to heal himself by draining electricity from the environment.

Audio

What, was the Electric Slide to cheesy? Yeah, good point.

What, was the Electric Slide too cheesy? Yeah, good point.

The developers wanted to make the music bring the city to life by using a mix of ambient and heavy percussive sounds.

Lifespan

As usual, game length depends on your skill—although if you decide to go for the Platinum Trophy you can plug in 25 hours, easy. The trophy won’t be a cake walk, but “you don’t have to be a gamer ninja to do it,” Fox confirms. “You just have to be good with electrical powers. What I mean to say is it’s not for elite gamers only; it’s for people who have taken the time to master Cole’s super powers.”

DLC remains a future possibility, but currently no plans have been made for the PS3 exclusive. Infamous releases on May 26.

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2 Responses to “Think Grand Theft Auto with superpowers”

  1. 1 Matt

    hey, that’s so not GTA with superpowers, it’s a Crackdown-Static Shock Hybrid, Sucker Punch is a pretty good developer Sly 1 and 2 are awesome if you’ve never played, platforming heaven.

  2. 2 WITA

    Lol the title came from the words of Fox and Meyer. I didn’t just make it up. 🙂

    I’ve heard good things about Sly Cooper! I’ll have to track it down sometime.


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