Of course, there’s a lot more for you to do than merely get around. Check out the map or mini-map and you’ll see blue markers pointing to the central story missions, plus yellow markers leading to useful, XP-gathering side quests. Through the former you’ll steadily uncover the nature of the fatal package and the plots and personalities that have bought Empire City to this point. Through the latter you’ll steadily clean up the neighbourhood, establishing medical centres that act as respawn points when you’re knocked down and permanently reducing the numbers of hoodies taking pot shots at you every time you pass.
What helps make inFamous for me is the variety of the missions. Much as I loved monkeying around in Crackdown, an awful number of the hits you had to carry out came down to a three step process of locate HQ, bust in or infiltrate, then heroically kick ass. Crackdown’s locations and scenarios were constructed with enough skill to disguise this, as did the open way in which you could wield your powers, but the game still felt repetitive after a while. inFamous seems to try harder, with what are effectively run and gun scenarios mixed in with escort missions, point defences, fierce assaults and searches. Specific missions set underground give Sucker Punch the chance to flex their old platform gaming skills, reproducing the old moving walkways and timed traps of the classic platformer in the game’s gritty, believable style so that it might actually take a while before you realise that you’re effectively playing a chunk of Sly Racoon. Meanwhile side missions feature Crackdown style rooftop races, some well-engineered stealth sections and some nicely executed search and destroy quests. Sure, when it all boils down all the missions eventually become variations on a few themes, but each has just enough flavour to help the game maintain momentum, which it does for hour, after hour after hour of hideously addictive, totally immersive gameplay.
The combat is going to be a sticking point for some people. Basically, your enemies are fairly fiendish. They’re not particularly smart, but they are numerous and they are accurate, and certain types wielding rocket launchers or acting as suicide bombers are perfectly capable of causing nightmares. When the game gives you the streets, walls and rooftops to play with it can be tough. When you’re constrained to tunnels, train tracks or parks things can turn surprisingly nasty, as Cole finds energy supplies limited or sheer enemy numbers overwhelming. The trick is, you discover, to mix things up a little. Start playing inFamous like you would Gears of War with your electricity bolt as your assault rifle and your shock grenades and precision bolts as alternative weapons, and you’ll find it hard going. Make use of the environment, use the shockwave pulse attacks to throw the scenery around or bomb waves of enemies into submission, and you can make a dent in the hoodie forces before mopping up the stragglers. Realise that you have the advantage in terms of speed, agility and immediate brute force, and the game begins to open up to you.