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Old 07-21-2009, 08:24 PM   #1
coyls3
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Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

A Shockingly Good Game

High: The last boss fight
Low: flying straight through the pipe I was trying to grab and falling to my death
WTF: Are you really going to make me do the same type of side mission a forth time!


Infamous is an open world superhero game that was developed exclusively for the Playstation 3 by Sucker Punch, the developers of the Sly Cooper series. The game stars Cole Mcgrath, a delivery man who was given the task of delivering a package when all of a sudden the package explodes destroying a huge chunk of Empire city and killing hundreds of people. Two weeks after the blast, Cole, who somehow survived, wakes up from a comma to discover that he can now absorb and conduct electricity and begins looking for the person who is responsible for the blast while the player chooses whether to be good or evil.

When I was a child, I enjoyed reading the occasional choose your own adventure story so naturally I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a video game based on the same premise. Sure there have been previous games to attempt it, but they all fell a little flat when it came to the players choices actually having a huge effect on the outcome of the story. Even though I was intrigued by the concept, I initially had doubts about Infamous for two reasons. One, the game is about a super hero and all previous hero games were pure garbage, and two, it's a sandbox game and after playing Assassins Creed, the mere sound of the word sandbox made me sick to the stomach. Even with the doubts, I didn't want to miss a golden opportunity to try a game that claimed to be deferent from the build up of generic rubbish that is the next-gen game library, so I decided to give it a try.

From the start of the game, it was obvious that player choice was its central theme. The game featured a karma meter with good on one side, and evil on the other. This meter would move up and down based on everything Cole did. It moved towards the good side whenever Cole healed injured civilians or restrained his enemies instead of killing them, and moved towards the evil side whenever he bioleached enemies or caused lots of destruction in the city. Which side of the meter Cole's karma landed on determined which power upgrades I could spend experience on. The good upgrades were focused toward defeating enemies without killing them, like automatically retaining them when weakened or making them float in the air, while the evil upgrades focused more on destroying everything while hoping an enemy was part of what was destroyed.

Even though the evil power upgrades seamed to have more appeal, I decided to play through the game as a hero. After about ten minutes into the game I was presented with my first karma choice moment, a choice between a good or bad action. The government had dropped a supply of food into the city and I had to choose between taking all the food for Cole and his friends or sharing it with everyone else. Unfortunately most of the karma choice moments were just as black and white as this one. The good choice was always the obvious thing to do while the bad choice would often include decisions Michael Myers would think twice about. This lack of middle ground would have been easier to forgive if the choices actually effected the story. The game didn't start to resemble that choose your own adventure masterpiece I was hoping for until half of the game was through when the choices became a little less black and white and my decisions seemed to effect the way the story played out, none of which I can reveal out of fear of spoiling the story.

Coincidentally, this is around the same time the games plot began to pick up. Throughout the first half of the game the story did little more than produce just enough dialog to explain what was going on. There was no overall sense of purpose for the story missions other than progressing the game. However, once the game hit the halfway mark that all changed. The game began to bombard me with plot twist after plot twist, each one taking me completely by surprise while at the same time, making me want to jump straight into the next story mission just to see what happened next. By the stories end, I was left surprised, satisfied, and craving more thanks to the mind blowing ending.

Other than the surprising plot twists, what I liked most about the story was the way the characters developed. Unlike the typical comic book super hero story where the main character is a tights wearing crime fighter who oozes overconfidence, Cole came across as an average joe who accidentally gained superpowers. Instead of dawning a ridiculous costume and declaring war on crime, he just tries to deal with the problems he must face. This allowed me to connect to Cole on a personal level, allowing the story to draw me in. When added to the games varied mission and enemies types, my hero play through of Infamous provided me with more fun than any other single player game I played so far this generation. It was so entertaining that I immediately started an evil play through after completing my hero campaign. Unfortunately, It was considerably lacking compared to the hero counterpart.

For starters, The few good karma moments in which I thought affected the story during the first play through had the exact same effect on the story when the evil choice was chosen. With both choices effecting the story the exact same way, the entire point of featuring the choices to begin with was completely missed. Instead of creating a choose your own adventure gaming masterpiece as advertised, Sucker Punch instead created the lightning infused love child of Fable and Uncharted. Even though the same great story was told, it just didn't have the same impact. This is mainly due to the fact that most of the story and side missions involve Cole ultimately helping the city, which begs the question of why a villain would help a city in which, according to the back of the box, he wants to destroy. Even the dedicated evil side missions fell short by forcing Cole to go on an evil rampage full of death and destruction without providing a reason to do so. It would seem that the developers at sucker punch fail to realize that evil villains feel as though what they're doing is for a greater good, even if it means the death of others.

I started playing Infamous expecting an average sandbox game with a story based on an unique style of choose your on adventure story telling. What I actually got was a good sandbox game with highly entertaining gameplay that featured a slow to start but good story based on classic linear storytelling with a tacked on morale choice system in which the game would have been better without.

7.5/10 (good)

Last edited by coyls3; 10-19-2009 at 02:02 AM. Reason: new review
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:20 AM   #2
Chi Kong Lui
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

The problem I have with this review is that reads more like a list of complaints than formal criticism. I'd like to see the game be put into some form of critical context. For example, does the good vs evil premise reveal anything about human nature? Also, your final paragraph tries to quantify the game experience to the reader. This is something we typically avoid in our reviews. You should focus solely on describing your own experience and what it means to you. Let the reader extract what they may out of your experience.

I appreciate that you clearly are putting a great deal of effort into your review and I hope you try to stick with it.

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Old 07-23-2009, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

thanks for your feed back. I have switched out my old review with one that is versed in more formal criticism.
any new feedback is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:47 PM   #4
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Coyls, I'm liking what I'm reading and its getting close, but its still not there for me yet. Here's why:

You've piled on the negatives to the point where I don't understand why you still like this game. You need to do a better job of reconciling why you still like this game so much despite all the negatives you cite or perhaps putting the positives in the context of how they overcame the negatives. Otherwise, the review reads contradictory.

I also really like how you've taken the good vs evil feature to task, but present that more as an overarching theme to your review as oppose to saying its "worst part of game" and then sort of mentioning that through out the review. I think this point is key to your criticism and the structure of your review needs to flow better around that.

I'm not a 100% sure on this last point so I'd like to hear what others readers and staffers have to say on this point about the flow.

In terms of housekeeping issues, the High/Low/WTF points are not general pros/cons bullet points. Describe the single highest/lowest/strangest moment in the game for each point. Tell a mini-story with each one if possible.

You also don't need to rate the graphics, sound, etc. We only publish one rating to summarize your thoughts.

Otherwise, keep up the good work!

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Old 07-23-2009, 03:21 PM   #5
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

I noticed a couple of grammatical problems especially in the last two paragraphs you use "their" instead of "there", you spell "arc lightning" two different ways, and you use "to" instead of "too." Those are just some minor grammatical things though the review itself is not bad at all but it seems to have too much negativity and then a score of 9/10, maybe if you more clearly noted what you liked specifically and some more stuff you liked it would be better. So in short I agree with Chi that the good score needs to be qualified a little more. Good work though.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:26 AM   #6
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Thanks again for your feedback. After reading it again, I see your point.

I have revised it, this time showing exactly what made me like this game so much.

I have also restructured it a little to make it transition more smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:31 AM   #7
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Coyls, I'm afraid the major issues with the review have still not been addressed.

The short comings of the Karma engine/evil choices are described in paragraphs 2,3, and 6 and consequently all over the review and difficult to read. You need to consolidate those points early in the review as the overarching criticism.

I'm also not buying the second to last paragraph. The whole paragraph feel unnecessary and tacked on. Infamous is hardly unique since Prototype was released at the same time and do you honestly believe Infamous was the first game to bring "fun" to next-generation gaming?

The list of positives is similar to the list of complaints in the first draft. You've also added more positives, but failed to provide more context to how they overcame the negatives and/or made the game remarkable achievement as oppose to just "good". A 9 rated game is considered great and I'm not getting a sense of that. Don't just list the positives. Make an argument as to why this is a great game.

In the final paragraph you're still quantifying the experience to the reader by saying "satisfied consumers".

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Old 07-24-2009, 10:25 PM   #8
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

ok, I did a major revamp of the review. hope you like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Kong Lui View Post
Infamous is hardly unique since Prototype was released at the same time
I know people do it a lot, but I don't think it's fair to compare Infamous and prototype. Even though they look similar on paper, they have almost nothing in common. Prototype has more in common with resident evil than it does with Infamous IMO.

Last edited by coyls3; 07-24-2009 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 07-26-2009, 12:19 AM   #9
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Quote:
Originally Posted by coyls3 View Post
I know people do it a lot, but I don't think it's fair to compare Infamous and prototype. Even though they look similar on paper, they have almost nothing in common. Prototype has more in common with resident evil than it does with Infamous IMO.
Whether its fair or not, if you are going to call out a game as being unique, then you need to explain how it is unique in comparison to its most obvious competitors, but since you've removed the comment, this point is moot.

As for the changes the edits, its more on track, but I still have several issues.

1) I would like to hear more specific descriptions in the gameplay to really reinforce your points.

2) You cite the karma system as sort of the major aspect of the game, but then later say that it doesn't hinder the story, which makes the karma system seem trivial. You need to make a more conclusive argument as to whether or not it works or doesn't work, or if it is truly integral to the game.

3) In your next to last paragraph, saying the gameplay really "shines" and then proceeding to list of what reads like mildly positive features is not very convincing. Then in the final line, you describe the game as "preforms adequately all around", which is like saying the game is kind of average. That's hardly warranting a 9/10 rating. Again, you've got to make a stronger case and dig deeper as to what makes this game so good in your mind or conclude that it is only slightly above average as your review seems to indicate.

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Old 07-26-2009, 02:41 AM   #10
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Hey Coyls,

Thanks for the review.

I'm going to have to agree with Chi on his points and say that this review is in need of a lot of work.

I definitely appreciate the time and effort you put into discussing the karma system, but it dominates this review and you don't really dig very deep into it. I mean, you do a pretty good job of outlining what it is and how it works, but I don't get a real sense of what you personally thought of it, and how it affected your own time with the game.

I certainly don't mind the review focusing on one aspect, but if you're going to spend some much time on the karma, I would really like to see it handled in a much juicier fashion.

The other major issue with this review is that you cram basically every other aspect of the game into one paragraph near the end. I'm certainly not a person who likes the "laundry list" style of review where every single aspect takes up a separate paragraph, but I do think that a little more examination of the nuts and bolts would be warranted.

Finally, your closing statement that the game is a jack of all trades to me in no way justifies giving it a 9/10. At this site, we reserve the upper numbers for games that really break new ground or pioneer new ideas. They really have to bring something special to the table before we start talking about 9‘s or 10’s. If you really think it's a 9 that's fine, but you have to make a much stronger case for why it deserves that score. Just being an ‘okay’ game without any major flaws would put it somewhere in the 6-7 range, IMO. At this site, anyway.

If you want to do rewrite, I'd say go for it and I would be glad to take a look later.
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:08 AM   #11
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

ok I updated the review again.

I realize that it needs better transitional phrases between paragraphs, but at this point I'd like to get your opinions on the content before I go through the trouble of smoothing it out only to change it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Gallaway View Post
At this site, we reserve the upper numbers for games that really break new ground or pioneer new ideas. They really have to bring something special to the table before we start talking about 9‘s or 10’s.
Do you honestly feel that a game has to have totally new ideas to be considered great?

I do agree that 9's and 10's shouldn't be handed out easily( infact other than this game, the only other game to come out this generation that I gave a 9 or higher to was metal gear. which I gave a 9.5) but there games that I feel were truely great that didn't really have alot of new ideas. what about games such as God of War or Grand theft auto(the good ones from ps2)?
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:50 AM   #12
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Quote:
Originally Posted by coyls3 View Post
Do you honestly feel that a game has to have totally new ideas to be considered great?

I do agree that 9's and 10's shouldn't be handed out easily( infact other than this game, the only other game to come out this generation that I gave a 9 or higher to was metal gear. which I gave a 9.5) but there games that I feel were truely great that didn't really have alot of new ideas. what about games such as God of War or Grand theft auto(the good ones from ps2)?
We give writers here a degree of flexibility to interpret the ratings scale as they see fit. So long as the tone and content of your review is reflective of the rating, it doesn't have to bring a lot of new ideas to the table to justify a 9 or 10 rating. That being said, as someone whose reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of games, eventually you come to appreciate new ideas more and it does naturally become an important criteria to anyone who does this long enough.

As for your last draft, I applaud you for sticking with it and you've made strides in having it read more balanced overall.

The one remaining issue I have is in the latter half of the review, you relying solely on your adjectives and bare minimum descriptions to illustrate your point. This isn't particularly convincing and a long way off from providing critical context. Like when you say "Cole's movement is actually quite good" or the battles have an "epic feel." Is it good or epic because it made you feel a certain way that no other video game has or has no other video game attempted such a feature or perhaps other games have, but Infamous puts a unique spin on it that makes it stand out. Ideal game criticism is more than just highlighting pros and cons of a game. You have to put the game and its parts in some form of deeper and reflective perspective, otherwise its just a consumer guide.

Also the parts about the checkpoints and shard drops are completely out of place and add nothing to points you were trying to make on those paragraphs. Make sure everything in your review supports your final conclusion about "varied gameplay and unique storytelling." Otherwise, the review remains unconvincing.

I understand the above points may me difficult to grasp and its not something I expect writers to pickup overnight or even through several reviews. So to get my approval, I'd simply like to see you take another rewrite at addressing my points and if I think you've made some progress, that will be enough for my approval. Thanks again for the effort.

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Old 08-03-2009, 10:51 AM   #13
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

ok, I have rewritten the review
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Old 08-17-2009, 05:01 PM   #14
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

from the lack of comments i'm guessing it needed more work so I rewrote it again
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:09 AM   #15
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Re: Please rate this review: Infamous (revised version)

Since I'm sure this review was considered garbage, I decided to try something new.
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