PSN Review – inFamous: Festival of Blood

It’s time to go back to New Marais, but this time things have gotten a little bit…interesting. Rather than being the next iteration in the smash hit inFamous series, inFamous: Festival of Blood deserves more to be called a spin-off. When vampires rise in the city and Cole is transformed, will anyone survive? Is this mashup of the superhero and the supernatural successful?

After the critical and commercial success of inFamous 2 earlier this year, Sucker Punch Productions decided to do something a little different. Festival of Blood still retains the same feeling as its retail brethren, but it takes away the franchise’s famous (or infamous) moral choice system. Preliminary studies from trophy reports revealed that most people played through the Good karmic side of inFamous 2 but never got around to playing the Evil half of the game. Not only were these people missing out on a completely unique story and new missions, but a vastly different set of electrical powers. Because of this, FoB was made a much more controlled and focused experiment. While Cole still is battling against the vampires trying to gain control of the city, his own ghoulish nature forces him to do things that he’d normally find appalling. But what’s a few dead civilians compared to the greater good, right?

Festival of Blood takes place in a seemingly alternate timeline than its predecessor. It’s never explicitly stated, but both endings of inFamous 2 have very different consequences and don’t exactly match up with this game. Oh well, that’s easily dismissed. The game actually takes place from the point of the lovable Zeke Dunbar, sidekick extraordinaire. After stumbling upon a woman with a very nice pair of *ahem* eyes, he proceeds to impress her by recounting the stories of his exploits with the legendary Cole McGrath. By using Cole’s blood (he does have superpowers after all) some creepy occultists are able to bring back their leader, Bloody Mary the Vampire. She bites Cole – and when the sun comes back up the next morning he’ll be under her control forever. He’s got the rest of the night to figure out how to stop the sinister succubus before he’s an immortal slave. After playing through the game, it’s up to you to decide if it’s canonical or not, but either way it’s still a blast to play. Is Zeke telling the truth, or is he embellishing to win the lady?

Remember the progression issues that were keeping inFamous 2 from being as strong as it could have been? Festival of Blood tackles those in a very interesting way. You start off with all the basic powers in this game: grenades, rockets, bolts, melee the works. But instead of upgrading these by gaining experience points through combat and missions, upgrades are unlocked by completed by tackling enemies a certain number of times. Stake 10 vampires? Get an upgrade. Expose a unique enemy hidden in a crowd? Get an upgrade. Instead of starting with one or two abilities and growing along with the game, it feels rewarding to start with every ability (albeit weak) and letting you upgrade as you progress naturally. Those who never chose to try out Cole’s Evil karma powers will finally get a little taste of the dark side.

Speaking of abilities, making Cole exactly like he was in the retail game probably wouldn’t warrant a brand new game, spin-off or not. That’s where the new vampire powers come in, all powered by the blood of the innocent. There are only a few moves in total, but it wonderfully adds on to the game’s experience. Shadow Swarm compliments the Static Thrusters and allows Cole to turn into a colony of bats and quickly breeze over the bustling New Marais. Moving efficiently through open-world games is critical and it’s incredibly simple to pop around the map. Vampire Vision acts much like Detective Vision from the Batman: Arkham Asylum/City games by letting you locate hidden objects and highlight vampiric enemies attacking you in the dark streets. Taking place at night–the game is actually pretty dark–enemy highlighting becomes an unexpected blessing. Vampire Vision can even be used as an x-ray, allowing you to see through people walking through the streets. But beware! Hiding in the guise of a drunken pedestrian lie powerful enemies waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

The other big announcement with this new inFamous title was the inclusion of PlayStation Move support. That’s right, it’s time to dust off your Move and Nav controllers, because this one does everything right. Most importantly, FoB doesn’t commit the cardinal sin of motion gaming: setting the melee attack to a wave of the controller. In fact, none of the “motion” aspects are every really used, only the pointer. At first the new combination definitely felt odd, especially after playing inFamous 2 just a few weeks ago for fun. But after only a few hours it felt better than any FPS I’ve ever played with the controller. In fact, once the official patch is live for i2 I want to go and play that game all over again. The new controls are that good.

When it’s all said and done, Festival of Blood is an absolute blast to play. It retains the core gameplay of the series and streamlines the experience to a fast and action-packed jaunt into New Marais. The game is entirely superficial in the canon and obviously done to match the Halloween theme of the year. There are a number of collectibles in the game to keep you playing after you finish it, but not much replay value with the main story. But you can always play the new User Generated missions if you need to get even more of your inFamous fix (I highly suggest doing at least a few). When it comes down to it, games are about fun, and this one pulls it off perfectly. That’s probably why it wasn’t made as an expansion to the full game, but as a standalone title. Other than the universe, it has nothing to do with the other games, so it isn’t required to play the first game for this one to make sense. All in all, you’d be hard pressed to find a game better than this for the same price on the PlayStation Network.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ New powers excellently compliment the universe.

+ Move controls are the best implementation we’ve seen.

+ Short and sweet. Doesn’t overstay its welcome but gives you quite a ride.

8 out of 10