Small satellite dishes called Dead Drops are scattered across rooftops throughout the three islands of Empire City, and each one contains an audio message from John, who’s apparently a scientist working for Kessler. Kessler is the game’s antagonist, and much of your information on this character comes through John’s pleas for help. The Dead Drop mini-game not only unlocks some wicked trophies, but also enhances your understanding of several characters, as well as the events that lead up to the blast. It’s one of the best integrations of story and gameplay out there, and will definitely inspire other developers.
Dead Drops, as well as Blast Shards and various power sources, can be located by clicking down the R3 button, which sends out a radar pulse on the on-screen map. This is invaluable during enemy encounters since power sources are the key to keeping Cole alive. Blast shards also deserve notable mention since collecting enough of them will upgrade your character’s battery cores, which are depleted whenever Cole performs a special attack. The more battery cores you have, the more damage Cole can dish out.
Health is handled just like every other game out there. The screen gets blood splatters around the edges, the colors desaturate, and the onscreen action starts to get blurry. But there’s a nice catch. Cole can quickly heal within seconds by draining electricity from a power source, so it becomes important to pay attention to your surroundings. I typically found myself hanging around on the sidewalk next to the lamp poles, charging constantly as I tossed exploding cars through the air and stuck Reapers and Dust Men with sticky grenades.
Though melee combat is included, it’s simplistic and won’t be used very often. His standard move is Lightning Bolt, and this move can be performed without depleting any of his battery cores. Though it doesn’t do too much damage, it’s reliable and works across almost any distance. Killing enemies will yield experience points in the form of XP, and new electrical abilities can be purchased in the menu system. What’s cool is that there’s an included video for every ability, which allows for smarter purchases.