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inFamous

A shocking spin on the Spider-Man formula

Infamous is one of Sony's biggest games of the year so far. It's also got one of the coolest openings in a game we've ever seen.

The moment you press start there's a flash of light, pedestrians scream and put their hands over their faces, cars and lights pop and fizz with electricity, and the camera pans round to reveal utter carnage. The whole thing's done in seamless real-time. It's a special start for what Sony hopes is a special game.

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You, playing as Cole, wake up to find yourself lying at the epicentre, almost as if you caused it. What the hell happened? We'll leave you to find out for yourself but we can say that inFamous, unlike Crackdown, has a dark, grinding plot presented via comic strip cut scenes.

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Fitting they are too, because Cole is like a comic book hero himself. With Spider-Man agility and Jedi-like powers he leaps and clambers around the city with Assassin's Creed-like ease, seeing off enemies with electric attacks.

Controlling Cole is simple and satisfying - he clings onto any surface, ledge or wire. Leaping from the roof of a tower block to land on a wire, or jumping from the top of one pole to another, is no problem.

Your basic attack is the lightening bolt, a straight and quick electric blast from Cole's right hand which can be shot infinitely.

The shock grenades are more fun, working like powerful sticky grenades that cause plenty of damage to enemies (and innocent bystanders if you're not careful). The Shockwave power is like a Jedi Force Push, violently repelling rockets, cars, enemies and anything in your way, while the Megawatt Hammer is a slow-moving energy ball that explodes on impact. You can also slam downwards from a height, sending a powerful shockwave rippling through the ground.

Using these later weapons depletes a charge meter at the top of the screen, which you need to recharge by draining power from any electronic device in the city. It's an interesting ammo mechanic that gets you thinking about your environment and your angle of approach.

As you lay the electrical smack down on enemies and complete missions you earn experience points which you spend on upgrades.

The basic leccy shot becomes a spreading beam that leaps from one enemy to another if you hit your target in the head, while the Megawatt Hammer becomes a guided missile. Later on you can summon giant lighting bolts from the sky and obliterate entire streets in seconds.

It takes around six or seven hours to get to that stage, but that's when being Cole feels empowering. Some goon fires a bullet your way and before he's realised his mistake you just raise your glowing arms and annihilate him so hard his mother feels it.

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Cool thing is you don't have to use your powers for good - inFamous has a Karma system that judges you on your actions, deeming you evil or good depending on what you do.

This ranges from simple things like not killing pedestrians to making moral decisions during 'Karma Moments'. Do you let civilians take a food shipment, or do you blast them to bits and keep it for yourself? Do you pump black diseased tar into the water supply or rip the poison canisters off the pipes, splashing yourself with the harmful goo?

Being good or bad not only effects the way the public react to you (they take pictures if you're good, throw stones if you're not) but the way you look too.

There are also certain powers that are unique to being good or evil. The evil Lightening Bolt can be turned into a constant stream, and the Evil Megawatt Hammer can be shot in threes. In general, the evil versions of the weapons cause more giant explosions and aren't as tidy to use, which is fine because frying a few bystanders when you're evil isn't an issue.

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