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“inFamous’ is best game yet for Sony’s PS3

The PlayStation 3 hit shelves before Thanksgiving three years ago.

Since then, the PS3 has waited for the game that defines the console.

The games have continued to get better every month, and the system seems to be gaining traction on the Xbox 360. The release of “Metal Gear Solid 4,” “Killzone 2,” and “LittleBigPlanet” in the past year shows developers are beginning to harness the power of the PS3.

Sony took another step in the right direction in late May with the release of “inFamous.”

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions — the company that released the underrated “Sly Cooper” series — “inFamous” gives the PS3 a bona fide summer hit, and perhaps the best exclusive game of the summer for any system.

The game takes place shortly after a massive explosion destroys a sizeable portion of Empire City. The lead character in the game — a courier named Cole — was carrying the bomb that caused the destruction. Cole, however, survives the explosion and gains the power to harness electricity.

Shortly after the explosion, gangs take control of Empire City. Playing as Cole, the player is given the option to help clean up and rebuild the city or to use Cole’s new powers in nefarious ways.

The game integrates Cole’s struggle with his newly found powers well into the storyline. He’s an average guy who got in the middle of an accident and now has the power to save his city. These new responsibilities weigh heavily on Cole. The developers create numerous points in the game where Cole must decide to use his powers for good or evil. Cole’s decisions have an immediate effect on the population of the city. Do good and the citizens will take pictures of you. Do evil and they run scared.

It’s an interesting dynamic, and one that the developers nailed.

“inFamous” takes bits and pieces from other sandbox games and throws them into a big, destructive pile. Sucker Punch created a gigantic, living city to explore. There are a ton of side missions, some of which help the growth of the city and others that contribute to its destruction. Cole’s powers grow throughout the game and can be tailored to good and evil.

As the greater powers are unlocked, Cole finds himself in some epic battles.

“inFamous” is like “Assassin’s Creed” on steroids in that Cole can scale any building in the city. But unlike the protagonist of “Assassin’s Creed,” Cole doesn’t get hurt when he jumps from buildings, and he shoots electricity out of his hands.

“inFamous” might be the best comic-book game ever released, but gamers will have to get past playing a comic-book game with no background to draw from. If gamers can embrace this new hero, Sony will have another blockbuster franchise. And it’s popular franchises that will continue to push the PS3 closer to the Xbox 360.

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