Tuesday, July 7

Platinum inFamous: Fun and Not So Hard.

I just finished a good run with the Sucker Punch PS3 game inFamous, getting all 49 broze, silver, and gold trophies and netting myself my first ever platinum trophy.

Brad Shoemaker’s review of inFamous on Giant Bomb convinced me to give this game a try, and a comment he made on the Giant Bombcast about the trophies being not too bad to get got me to try for all of them. I’m happy I did both; inFamous is a lot of fun, and the trophy hunt was enjoyable, just hard enough for me, and rewarding to boot (as much as video games can be).

A hallmark of inFamous, and a chief component in its enjoyability, is its pervasive forgiveness. You could cynically characterize this as “pervasive too-easiness,” but I’m a casual enough player to really appreciate it.

  • You cannot die from falling, even off of Empire City’s tallest buildings (slight exception being made for some specific platforming sections, where death + checkpoint is actually preferable to re-climbing anyway). If you miss a jump, it’s usually pretty easy to just climb back up the building you were on.
  • Missions and even some boss fights feature liberal checkpointing. This was very welcome especially after playing GTA IV, where missions almost exclusively restart from the very beginning, before the often-tedious travel sequences.
  • “Stickiness” to assist with landings and prevent falling off. I’m a particularly poor at platformers (Cait has labeled me “hole-faller”), but inFamous makes some very tricky (and vertigo-inducing) jumps possible by subtly keeping you from over- or under-shooting the jumps. (As I understand it this is similar to Sucker Punch’s previous Sly Cooper games.)
  • Radar for finding collectables. There are 350 “blast shard” collectables across the city, and 30–40 “dead drop” satellite dishes that contain audio recordings, and trophies for finding some and all of each. Any nearby collectables appear clearly on your radar when you “ping” it.
All told, the game succeeds in cutting out 95% of the potential frustration of playing it, with the remaining bit being just enough to provide a satisfying challenge.

Getting all fifty trophies was a balance of playing through the story and some nice sandbox play.

I had to play through the story twice, first making the “good” choices and maxing out my good powers, and then again to be “evil” and to up the difficulty to hard. I found Hard clearly tougher than Normal, but not overwhelmingly so, especially after gaining experience and skill from going through once.

The 350 blast shards seems daunting, but their appearance on the radar makes finding them through exploration tractable (compare with the 100 pigeons in GTA IV, which really require a map to get). I had happened upon nearly 300 over the course of just playing through all the missions, and the rest were a few hours of deliberately pinging my way over all the buildings, ground, and piers.

Some of the trophies require a bit of sidetracking into the sandbox that you might not otherwise do. For example, the Road Kill and Casey Jones trophies require you to kill 25 enemies while riding on cars and trains, respectively. 25 kills is low enough that, under the right circumstances, it doesn’t take too long to get these, and working for them can be a good change of pace from the missions. In any event, it’s a nice way to encourage and reward the emergent play aspects of a sandbox game.

Other trophies were about experimenting with all of Cole’s abilities. Get Off My Cloud requires 100 kills by knocking enemies from a height, such as a tall building. Going out and trying for this explicitly would take an annoying amount of time, so instead I just made sure to do a lot of knocking off buildings while playing through the missions and eventually got it. This was a strategy I probably wouldn’t have pursued otherwise, so I was glad to have it exposed for me. The same with Red Baron (100 airborne enemy kills) and Oh, You’ve Done This Before (50 “sticky bomb” grenade kills).

All in all, inFamous was a great deal of fun to play. It’s combat is easy to get into and satisfying to execute. I was happy to spend the additional time in the game to grab the trophies, and pleased that it was possible for me to be completist and get them all.

It’s unlikely that I’ll find another game that I am inspired to — and have the time for — complete in this way, so I’m glad to have the one platinum under my belt.