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Infamous Urban Exploration

While everybody seems to be focused on the differences between Prototype and inFamous, I found myself curiously forgetting about the entire comparison as I was playing the latter. It’s not that inFamous is perfect, but for me it comes awfully close. Why? Because it is truly an ‘open’ world.

This sounds a bit weird of course. Ever since Shenmue started making virtual worlds believable I’ve been wanting to explore these worlds beyond conventional means. While Grand Theft Auto III offered a bigger world and more freedom, you were essentially still stuck to the ground. Jumping alleviated this problem a bit (the less said about the helicopter, the better), but essentially I was missing Mario’s abilities in a believable world.

Enter Crackdown, which finally did what I was craving for: combining the fantastic platforming abilities of yore with modern open game worlds. Yet, Crackdown felt slightly limited and its controls were at times too floaty, making it feel disconnected. And this is the part that inFamous gets absolutely right.

While the game doesn’t allow you to leap the gigantic heights of Crackdown, it does allow you to climb any surface (though there are exceptions). This little difference makes everything about it much better. In Crackdown, getting ‘topside’ could proof a bit problematic and though your jumping abilities evolved constantly, it did provide an artificial limit of some sorts.

InFamous in contrast, opens up everything to you instantly; if you can see it, it’s pretty much guaranteed you can reach it. The climbing also makes the city more tangible and although it doesn’t feature web-slinging, it does a pretty good job of making you feel like that other superhero (the one with the spiders). Besides, the energy-line grinding can be just as addictive as web-slinging.

And that’s essentially what sold inFamous to me: the ability to traverse a tangible open city world. Yes, its urban features can become repetitive and make everything blend together. Yes, its abilities aren’t as over-the-top as Prototype‘s. But when playing, I truly feel as if I’m moving through my own town, by my own abilities, of my own accord. And in that respect it really is perfect.

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