Inside Art: inFamous

inFamous is a super hero sand box game for the PS3 developed by Sucker Punch. When it comes to sand box games the first titles that come to mind are Grand Theft Auto, Saint’s Row, Red Dead Redemption, Dead Rising, and Assassin’s Creed. However, inFamous is often overlooked because it is a PS3 exclusive title and underappreciated for its artistic value.

inFamous is a sandbox game that combines the elements of GTA with Assassin’s Creed building climbing. You play as Cole MacGarth, once a delivery man turned to a man with electric powers that you can use for good or evil. With the main character having the superhero persona Sucker Punch took the art direction of this game to look like a gritty comic book. Looking at the game’s art style was what really caught my attention since it communicated several points; 1) the gritty comic style reveals a dark, serious, and action filled story 2) comics are usually associated with super heroes. The main cut scenes of the game are narrated with comic pages. This feels like a breath of fresh air since 2D illustrations that are prominent and crucial to the game are a rare to find in video games these days. The fluid pacing of the game between CG and comic cut scenes gives the game a comic book epic feel. Knowing how the art dictates the mood of the story and what our main character is to be let’s see what else the art will tell us.

The prominent colors found in the concept art are red, blue, yellow and grey. The red, yellow, and grey all work together to establish two things, villains and destruction. The game is set in a post trauma Empire City that survived a terrorist weapon leaving the streets grim, dirty, and unkempt. Heavy grey tones imply the mood that the ruined city’s inhabitants don’t have much hope for survival. The blue color is reserved for our hero. With his lightning super powers the blue contrasts strongly against the dark hopeless city and its thugs. Aside from destruction yellow also establishes either a light of hope or the end of hope. In the concept art the sun is never fully out (though there are daylight scenes in the game) giving the sky a yellow and grey tone. This puts emphasis on how glum the city’s environment is as it never fully receives a calming blue daylight. Another view is that the sun is rising to new hope with Cole and his partner Zeke (a police officer). The can also once again be setting on lost hope if Cole goes towards the more villainous route, and further condemns Empire City.

The next step is layouts and environments.  Artists worked on making the city look dirty, ruined, and unsafe, while still inhabitable, active, and appealing. The environment offers tall buildings that asked to be climbed on, serving as routes to and from objective points. Despite Empire City having gone through the trauma of a terrorist weapon a majority of the buildings are intact. Venturing through other sections of Empire City the buildings do have a rougher look to it with ghetto and junkyard looking environments. While the game does an excellent of showing a city in ruin, I would have liked to have seen the environment artists push further by allowing players to climb on destroyed buildings. Otherwise, from cargo wharfs and parks to ghetto apartments and downtowns, the game does a fine job offering a believable city to play in.

If you enjoy the artwork of inFamous then you’ll be pleased to know that Sucker Punch has teamed up with DC comics as released by . The comics are going to bridge the stories of inFamous 1 and 2 together. The first issue is due to be on shelves in March. inFamous 2 is still without a solid release date but it is expected to be in sometime this year. Cole will be taking his story to new places so we’ll capture the artistic integrity of the sequel, and see how well it holds up to the bar it has set for itself.

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