Wednesday, May 18

Creator Complex

I'm in the midst of grappling with some disease of alien design and in times of ill health, I often turn to the gaming equivalent of comfort food. For me, that usually includes sandbox action games and in this case, I've turned to inFamous to prime myself for the upcoming sequel. If you had to ask why I opt for the - at times - paralyzing freedom of games from this genre, I'd day say that it has a lot to do with being able to wander amongst the living; something that can't be done in the throes of fever.

For that reason alone, inFamous probably wasn't the best choice because Empire City is a desperate, almost lifeless place for the majority of the game. Most of the urban expanse is rendered with an extremely dull palette until the player restores power to the city, section by section. Even then, you're only treated to the bright neon light emitted from signs and billboards until you liberate these sections from gang control. It's an effect that I found quite endearing, but also exhausting. Any great amount of time spent with the game leads to a monochromatic melancholy.

Imagine my surprise then when I chose to boot up the recently-revived beta for the upcoming sequel.

So much has changed. The camera is focused more tightly on series hero, Cole. There is an abundance of colour, and the streets are heavily populated with tourists and raucous party-goers. The play mechanics have also changed noticeably. For melee combat, the camera zooms in even closer - and this can lead to frustration, particularly with structures overhead -  and the new weapon allows for some devastating combos that can be modified by filling up an on-screen bar.Also, you are now unable to fire off a limitless amount of lightning bolts: if you have no stored energy, you can't use any powers. The change in focus for combat allows me to believe that this will be more of a beat-em' up than a shooter, and this concerns me somewhat. This is primarily because your enemies come in melee-focused and ranged varieties (some even packing long range sniper rifles), and it proved easy to be overwhelmed when confronted by a combination of the two.

The beta focuses on User-Generated Content (UGC), with players able to, and encouraged to trial the new mission creation system. All of the missions I trialled were centred around combat (either assassinating a single target or killing waves of foes) and from what I can gather, this is because it is far too difficult to create anything more elaborate. I say that because I tried to make a "Narrative," mission where Cole is forced to confront the consequences of his reckless actions from the first game.

Now theoretically, these guys should start dancing: NOW!

I tried to create a situation where the hero would be confronted by a vengeful cop seeking revenge for the death of his brother in Empire City. The mission should have gone as follows: when Cole approaches the policeman, a group of hired thugs would appear to subdue him so that revenge could be attained. After various switches, objectives, splitters and modifiers were laid, I could still not hide the group of deadly (believe me, they were freaking ruthless) assassins I had employed to help my villain. Upon starting the mission, Cole would run to Zeke for a briefing and then be peppered with minigun fire. Funnier still, I took to the rooftops to avoid fire, spoke to the cop who then proceeded to shoot me, and then ran to the objective point at the end of alley where I had set this muddled confrontation, and had unwittingly completed the mission.

I couldn't follow the jargon that Sucker Punch has employed to explain the function of each "Core Logic." When I had thought that I had placed events that would be triggered by certain conditions, all I had done was create a violent soup that would be forced down a player's throat upon talking to your portly companion.

I should advise that I was never able to make sense of Little Big Planet's content creation tools either. Whether it's laziness or a lack of cognitive processing power, I'm not sure. Still, I can't help the sheer sense of amazement I feel upon encountering some of the more functional and enjoyable creations that the game's community comes up with. My personal favourite was a Mirror's Edge themed level which captured the series aesthetic perfectly.

Have a little Faith in the community (Get it? Mirror's Edge pun!)

Has anyone tried creating levels in the inFamous 2 beta? Are you finding the tools to be intuitive, or are you encountering problems like myself?


  1. Just transferred the monies I had on dungeon siege 3 for la noire so ill be finishing that in 7 days and getting a refund lol.

    Im hoping for an enjoyable title.

  2. Hey Rubes, I read that the new firmware update is frying old 60gb PS3s running LA Noire: