Infamous (stylized as inFAMOUS) is an open-world action-adventure game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 system in 2009; May 26 (North America), May 29 (Europe), June 4 (Australia), and November 5 (Japan). It was also released on August 28, 2012, as part of the Infamous Collection, released for the same console.
The game follows the story of Cole MacGrath, a bike courier turned superhuman after an explosion that leveled several city blocks and killed thousands of lives. Now living in a world of crime and violence, Cole takes up measures in order to survive while utilizing his new-found powers, while also trying to learn more about how and why he got them.
The game received positive reviews by the gaming press, being praised for many of its elements, such as the implementation of Cole's powers and the structure of missions.
Infamous incorporates various elements of platforming, shooting, role-playing, and puzzles in an open-world environment. The player takes on the role of Cole MacGrath and must navigate through a large city, carrying out specific missions to progress through the story. As a superhuman, Cole has improved resistance and dexterity, as well as access to several powers specific for combat, defense, and navigation.
Set in the world of Empire City, where a major catastrophe has just erupted, the player is engaged in a post-apocalyptic environment where the majority of the inhabitants have been made to live in misery. They are scarce on supplies and kept separate from the rest of the world due to a quarantine being initiated in the city. They are also preyed upon by the criminal factions that banded together within each of the city's districts. Due to the adamant amount of criminal activity, the majority of law enforcement has decided to flee, leaving the civilians even more powerless.
The three districts (the Neon District, the Warren, and the Historic District) are each home to a specific faction that Cole encounters. Due to the disaster that has occurred, Cole must restore power to several parts of these districts by venturing through several sewers and recharging the substations. The player is allowed to freely move around in the city, though the game must progress story-wise in order to gain access to other districts.
As a superhuman, the player is given the choice to either do good or evil to the city with Cole's powers. Depending on the side the player has taken, the allies, missions, and the civilians' reaction to Cole will vary differently from one another. Each of the karmic sides has three ranks to keep track of the player's progression, and as the rank rises, the player will have a different impact on people and also have access to different powers specific to the karmic side.
Also, due to his superhuman nature, Cole will be requested by several civilians to fulfill several tasks and errands that only he can do. Karma-specific side missions are also available for the player to complete. These help improve Cole's powers and karmic points. The player is free to take on these missions any time outside the story missions. In doing so, the player eliminates the enemy presence found in the specific area of the mission, which will render the area safe for pedestrians. Other perks in doing missions include the allowed use of medical clinics and also access to other missions.
Cole is given powers akin to electricity. He can utilize them for use in combat, such as blasting a Lightning Bolt or throwing Shock Grenades at a designated area or target. Other specific powers are used for improved navigation, such as hovering over short distances or riding electrical wires, using Static Thrusters and Induction Grind respectively. Certain powers designated for defense can also be used, such as the Polarity Wall. These powers are obtained through the progression of the story as the player restores power to each portion of the city's districts.
These powers are not without restrictions. Some require a great deal of energy to utilize. The greater the power, the greater the amount of energy depleted. Cole's electrical energy is tracked through the use of battery cores. If so much energy from a power is used, Cole's energy will start to deplete, and once completely drained, his damage resistance will weaken, and he will not be able to utilize some of his powers. In order to restore energy, Cole must use Electric Drain to drain energy from a nearby power source, such as a lamp post or a fuse box. Doing so restores Cole's battery cores and can heal him from any damage inflicted.
Other restrictions include the use of transportation vehicles, as Cole's powers would cause vehicles to explode. He is, however, allowed to ride on the outside of a train. Cole also cannot wield firearms, but he can use this to his advantage by disabling enemy turrets. Cole's resistance and constitution are significantly weakened whenever he is in a powered down area, rendering him extremely vulnerable to damage. Cole is also restricted from most bodies of water, or else he will die if he is submerged too deep. Water, however, can also be used to Cole's advantage in defeating enemies by simply shooting any water an enemy happens to be standing in.
Several upgrades are available for most of Cole's powers. Powers can be upgraded to a maximum of three, and they vary depending on Cole's karmic side. Upgrades are available for purchase once the player earns enough experience points (XP). Experience points are gained by defeating enemies, completing missions, and performing specific stunts. Several of the upgrades are based on the roles of each karmic side, with the good karma powers being more focused and accurate, and the evil karma powers being more destructive and scattered. There are also other powers that do not require a specific karmic side for an upgrade to be available.
Part of the tasks available for the players to take up is collecting dead drops, which are hidden messages tucked away within satellite dishes by one of the player's associates. Fragments of the story and the activities of one of the rival factions are detailed within the messages. Blast shards are other items that Cole can gather to gain experience points and gain additional battery cores once a certain amount has been collected. There are a total of 32 dead drops and 350 blast shards for the player to collect around Empire City.
Specific stunts are also added to the gameplay, where the player has to perform a specific action to an enemy target utilizing Cole's powers. When performed, these stunts reward more experience points compared to taking down an enemy. There are a total of 21 stunts for the player to perform.
The game also includes 2D comic book-style cinematics that depict most of the important events of the game. Like most affected by karma, some of the cutscenes vary, depending on the player's current karmic status. Each cinematic is narrated by the protagonist himself and gives his own insight on the events that are happening.
Also, several television broadcasts air as the player progresses in the story. These broadcasts reveal more of the story, such as how the government is handling the problem in the city. One of the broadcasters, however, reveal to the city's inhabitants what is truly happening and keeps things in check by motivating the civilians in the face of adversity.
Several notable quotes from famous figures of history can be seen during some of the game's loading screens. This includes people such as Jean Nidetch, Victor Hugo, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Burke, Confucius, Epictetus, Helen Keller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henri Bergson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Voltaire, Winston Churchill, Charles de Montesquieu, Buddha, Kahlil Gibran, Franz Kafka, Nietzsche, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, and Talmud.
The PlayStation 3's trophy system was made available for the game, with a total of 50 trophies.
An explosion that leveled five or six blocks occurred within the Historic District of Empire City, killing thousands of civilians and destroying several buildings. In the midst of the crater, was Cole MacGrath, a bike courier who was later revealed to be the man responsible for carrying the bomb that resulted in the explosion. As he made his way out of the area, he soon discovered that he had gained the ability to channel electricity from his body. He eventually passed out after making his way out of the district, in the midst of a freak Lightning Storm he caused himself.
As Cole was nursed back to health by his girlfriend, Trish Dailey, and his best friend, Zeke Dunbar, Empire City fell apart after the day of the Blast, with riots and crimes being committed all over the city, along with a violent plague. As a desperate attempt from the government to contain the spread of the lethal disease, they have issued a quarantine on the city, leaving everyone trapped within the chaos and crime of the city. With the lawmen gone, the criminals took over the districts, leaving the city lawless and miserable.
Cole, after a few days, awoke and soon discovered his newfound powers. Getting out of bed, Cole practiced his powers with Zeke, hoping to control it for good use. Cole would use his powers to help assist the city in recovering the food drop, along with Zeke after the latter recovered his firearm, and Trish, who made her way to the area right after the latter two's success. Then, a television broadcast by the Voice of Survival had Cole named a terrorist, causing several civilians to become hostile and suspicious towards him. Also, in the midst of this, Trish walked out on Cole, with her believing that he was partly responsible for her sister Amy's death in the Blast.
Cole and Zeke decided to meet up at the Stampton Bridge, to begin their escape from the city before things got ugly. Though their escape with the rioting civilians managed to garner a minor success, they were stopped by a wall of turrets and razor wire, slaughtering every civilian that tried to escape. Zeke broke through the nearby gate and fell down to the harbor and swam his way back to town, while Cole made his way out through the exit Zeke went through, managing to hide himself within a decontamination chamber. Cole then met an FBI agent named Moya Jones, who saw the footage of Cole at Ground Zero and figured he would try to escape, also knowing he had superhuman powers.
She explained that her husband and fellow agent, John White, had disappeared the night before the Blast. John's mission was to infiltrate the First Sons in order to learn more of the device known as the Ray Sphere, a device designed to drain the energy out of nearby civilians and then focusing it on the one holding the device, the same device that gave Cole his powers. Without being able to establish contact with John, Moya offered Cole a deal, in which he was to return to the city to find him and the Ray Sphere, and in return, she would get him out of the quarantine and clear his name. Cole, who had doubts about the situation, agreed to the deal and returned to the city, meeting back up with Zeke.
Cole then told Zeke about his deal with Moya and the Ray Sphere and soon went on to fulfill several of Moya's requests, such as helping out one of her associates and rescuing a train line that might have been where John was. His activities eventually led him and Moya to Sasha, a former member of the First Sons, now the leader of the Reapers, a local faction that took over the majority of the city's Neon District. Deducing her location, Cole made his way into the area and confronted her.
After battling it out with Sasha, Cole was able to subdue her, but as he was about to question her about the First Sons, the area was destroyed and infiltrated by a group of men who took Sasha and left Cole for dead underneath the rubble. After getting out of the rubble, Cole made his way out of the area and into the slums of the Warren. After restoring power, Cole later continued his work with Moya in locating the Ray Sphere and John.
As he went about his duties, Cole was able to encounter Alden Tate, a former member of the First Sons who was born to the faction's leader, Richard Tate. His position was taken away by Kessler, a man who Cole met while looking for John and the Ray Sphere in the Neon District. Now the leader of the Dust Men, Alden terrorized the district with his superhuman powers. After rescuing Trish from Alden's rampage, Cole worked with Moya and the Empire City Police Department to apprehend Alden. Making his way to the faction's home territory, Cole worked in conjunction with the police in apprehending Alden, and after a battle, they were successful in arresting him.
Alden was then taken to Eagle Point Penitentiary for Moya and his men to extract him. Cole and Zeke, who decided to help out the police after a certain situation, were present during Alden's transfer to another cell, believing that his men would go after him. Their guess proved right, as the Dust Men invaded the penitentiary. Cole and the other policemen held back the attack while Zeke and the other policemen took Alden to his cell. After the transfer was finished, Zeke came out of the facility in order to assist Cole and the others, despite his orders to stay with Alden. A worried Cole immediately went to check on Alden, but by the time he got there, the policemen were already dead, and Alden has already escaped.
Cole left the area and went on to restore power to the remainder of the Warren, while Zeke contemplated on his failure. After restoring the power, Cole was contacted by John White, who told him to meet up with him alone. Though he did come on his own, Cole, unbeknownst to him, was followed by a helicopter that was supposed to extract John. Due to his long time undercover, John believed that they were the First Sons and fled the area before they could explain themselves. As the chopper followed John, so did Cole. After the chopper's destruction by Cole's doing, John kept himself hidden yet again and contacted Cole once more.
John informed him that Alden Tate had the Ray Sphere in his possession and has kept it safe at the top of his tower. John instructed him to go there with someone he could trust, and as he listened, Cole asked John what did he want to tell Moya. Here it was revealed that John was never married and knew no one named Moya. After this revelation, Cole avoided contact with Moya and worked cooperatively with John, as he instructed Zeke to meet him at the foot of the trash tower.
Meeting up with Zeke, Cole then navigated up the tower while Zeke followed. After passing a few floors, Cole and Zeke were able to reach the top, and awaiting them was Alden and the Ray Sphere. While Cole held off Alden's subordinates, Zeke kept himself at bay and waited for the right time to take the Ray Sphere. After defeating the last of Alden's men, Zeke took the Ray Sphere out of its cradle, though he was soon stopped by Alden and Kessler, who arrived at the area via a chopper. Caught between both Alden and Kessler, Zeke gave in to his selfish desire after realizing that it was just inches away from him. He then attempted to activate the Ray Sphere in order for him to gain powers, though as the energy surged out of the device, it soon retracted, causing no change to neither Zeke nor his environment.
Kessler immediately grasped the situation by telling Zeke that he could help him gain the powers he wanted, claiming that he knew what was wrong with the device. Zeke, after looking back at Cole, took off with Kessler with the Ray Sphere. Alden then went berserk over the loss of the device, which resulted in Cole being subdued by the falling debris and Alden fleeing the area. After awakening, Cole was instructed by John to head to the bridge leading into the Historic District in order to put a stop to Alden's rampage. After dealing with Alden's men along the heavily damaged bridge, he was able to defeat Alden. As Cole grabbed him and pinned him down to a wall, Alden offered a truce between them, claiming that they should work together. The moment Cole hesitated, Alden jumped down to the river. Despite this, Cole later continued to make his way to the Historic District.
There, Kessler had set up a challenge for Cole to rescue several civilians held hostage with bombs nearby their location and also revealed that he had Trish held hostage as well. After saving all of them, Kessler presented Cole with a choice: save Trish or six other doctors, both of which hung from buildings opposite each other. With only enough time to save one side, Cole made his move, though, despite his efforts, he failed to save Trish. After giving her a proper burial at the district's park, Cole prepared to face Kessler, vowing that he would pay for Trish's death.
Cole and John worked in an effort to take on the First Sons. He started off by destroying the gas balloons that deployed a deadly gas rooted from Sasha's black tar, then moved on to destroying the signaling device that was jamming John's radar for the device. During his tasks, when Cole was individually contacted by both Zeke and Moya, he refused to hear what they had to say, given their recent betrayals. After destroying the device, Cole and John were able to learn the location of the Ray Sphere and made immediate plans in order to obtain the device.
Arriving at the area where the Ray Sphere was being kept, Cole and John worked together to lure out the First Sons and the device. With Cole destroying the anti-aircraft turrets and John deploying a toxic chemical to the designated building, they were able to get the First Sons out of there. Unfortunately, the group had a truck already waiting, and after the chemical's deployment, they made their way out of the facility and into the harbor. Cole and John followed them, and after Cole subdued all of the nearby First Sons, they were able to reach the Ray Sphere. After contemplating on what to do with the device, Cole took action, though right after Cole's act, the device cracked open. A powerful vortex of energy swallowed John and tore him apart, subsequently destroying the entire harbor. Cole made his way out of there before he himself was swallowed by the vortex.
Kessler then contacted Cole right after, telling him to meet with him at Ground Zero. With him waiting there, Cole finally confronted him, and after a battle (with the interference of a repentant Zeke), he was able to defeat him. As Kessler tried to stand up, Cole heard him mention Trish, how he loved her and asked her for forgiveness. Kessler then immediately leaped towards Cole and grabbed him by the head the same way he did during their first encounter. As Kessler repeated all of the visions he has shown, Cole began to understand what it all meant.
Kessler then showed an alternate timeline where the world was ravaged by a powerful entity known only as "The Beast." Though Kessler had his powers to try and stop the Beast during its early days, he instead chose to flee away from it with his family. As the Beast hunted him down while subsequently destroying everything in its path, Kessler and his family watched as the rest of the world fell apart. After the death of his family, Kessler made a desperate attempt to undo his mistake by going back in time in order to rewrite history.
Kessler then accelerated the chain of events that led to Cole's conception as a Conduit, which involved all of the events that have happened in the city (the Blast, the quarantine, and many others). Kessler's only driving force and motivation was a picture from his wedding day: with Trish Dailey as his bride and Zeke Dunbar as his best man. Cole then realized that he and Kessler were the same person. Kessler went back in time to make sure that Cole got his powers, and he took measures so that he could do the impossible; make him strong enough to face and defeat the entity he was not able to confront. After giving his final message, Kessler succumbed to his injuries, and as Cole took one final look down at his future self, he turned away while holding down the rage within him, subsequently vowing that he would be ready for the Beast's advent.
- Good ending
Cole later reflected on his journey and remarked that he thought it would be all over once Kessler was out of the picture. However, as he realized his place in the world, he began to accept that there was no going back to the life he once had; that his powers would be a burden to carry until his death, using them as a means to help the city back up to its feet. Though, he was reminded of Moya's promise of revenge and Zeke's moment of betrayal, not sure what to make of it. He then remarked that he has never been more alone, as he watched over the city.
- Evil ending
Cole tore down the city and reduced it to a wasteland, taking it down notch by notch as he went about his activities. As he looked on, he remarked that his powers were only good for one thing: letting him take what he wanted, when he wanted, and completely neglected what Kessler has laid out for him, claiming that he was an idiot for trying to make him into a savior. Cole declared that in a lawless town, the strong take what they want, and the weak are slaves, mere playthings. As Cole looked around the wasteland he has created, he remarked that there is no one stronger than him and that the city was his for the taking.
Development of Infamous began after the end of the development of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, which was done by a team of sixty Sucker Punch employees.[note 1] Under the project name "True Hero," Sucker Punch searched for several sources of inspiration for the game, such as the novel DMZ and No Man's Land, which both focuses on a city after a catastrophic disaster, and also drew inspiration from the film Batman Begins and the game Grand Theft Auto III.
The game's setting, Empire City, was designed to marry the aspect of Cole as a superhuman, building it around the idea of a "crime ecosystem," where the area would often be plagued with petty crimes and trouble, and that it would make the players decide whether to help out or not in order to resolve it. Climbing was also made an important aspect of the city, with the developers citing it as "fun to do," while also being part of the superhero motif. They would then make all of the city climbable for Cole.
Comic book-styled cinematic cutscenes were integrated into the game to give more emphasis on the superhero motif. The cinematics were designed through the sequential use of Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe After Effects. First, 2D art was created in Corel Painter and Photoshop, and then placed into 3D stages in After Effects to provide a pseudo-3D effect that allowed the designers to adjust the camera angles and effects, as well as include organic elements like dust clouds and ink spots.
A karma system was later implemented, with the team's agenda being able to integrate a "judicious use of power" within the game, focusing on making the players choose between good and evil. The team wanted players to not only consider the outcome of performing karmic decisions but also moment-to-moment actions, such as the safety of pedestrians around the area, especially during combat.
For the mission "First Glimpse," the team decided to have the civilians turn against Cole (regardless of his karmic decision) to give players an idea of what both sides of the karmic system are like. Cole's powers were also designed to reflect the nature of both sides of the karmic system. The good karma powers are more precise, while the evil karma powers are rather destructive.
- Main article: Infamous/Soundtrack
The official soundtrack for the game was composed by musicians Amon Tobin, James Dooley, Mel Wesson, and Martin Tillman, under the direction of Jonathan Mayer, the music manager at Sony. Rather than use traditional musical instruments, the team wanted to incorporate sounds created from environmental objects and use such objects in conjunction with other instruments that were used in non-traditional manners. Tobin was responsible for in-game music, while Tillman was responsible for cinematic music. Since Tillman has made such a great impression with his work, the group wanted to further incorporate his contribution into pieces that were already finished by remixing them. The official soundtrack was made available for a free download in May 2009, via the iTunes Store.
Sony Computer Entertainment America released a trailer entitled "The Beauty of Powers" in March 2009, which was later released in the PlayStation Store. The game's demo, which was a pre-order bonus at first, was later made available for download to everyone on May 21, 2009.
An Infamous themed game space on PlayStation Home was made available for users to visit in July 2009. The area was modeled after a portion of Empire City and was dubbed "The Abandoned Docks of Empire City." The area featured a minigame where users can zap Reapers for clothing rewards, as well as a graffiti wall where users can create their own graffiti. The space was first to broadcast exclusive media from the game developers themselves.
Cole MacGrath is featured in several other kinds of media to continue the promotion of the series. Several elements of his costume were made into outfits in Little Big Planet and also his appearance as a multiplayer skin in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (along with Zeke Dunbar).
Infamous was included in both PlayStation 3's Platinum and Greatest Hits budget line-up. It was also among the games made available for a free download as part of the PlayStation Network's "Welcome Back" pack.
GameStop offered the Gigawatt Blades power as a pre-order bonus for Infamous. It was later made available as a free download in the PlayStation Store. Amazon.com also offered a pre-order bonus for Infamous, which was a Reaper costume for PlayStation Home. Those who downloaded the Infamous demo from the PlayStation Store and cleared it were able to receive a Cole costume for PlayStation Home.
Pre-orders from GameCrazy and Best Buy stores came with an early copy of the demo, released on May 7, 2009. The redeem codes were sent via email to several PlayStation Network users from Oceania on May 14, 2009.
Sequels and prequels
IGN.com released a graphic novel entitled Infamous: Post Blast, which served as a prequel to the events of the game. The novel depicted the events shortly after the Blast, showing several of John White and Cole MacGrath's activities before the events of Infamous. A 2D minigame entitled Infamous: Precinct Assault was also featured on the game's official website.
Sucker Punch also collaborated with DC Comics in producing a six-issue comic series of Infamous, which illustrate the events following the original game. Its plot revolves around Cole dealing with the remnants of the First Sons and Moya, as well as Cole facing off with David Warner, a security guard turned Conduit that Kessler had left sealed within the organization's facility. Based on the events that follow Infamous (which can be seen in the Infamous comics), the good karma ending is the story canon, as Cole is depicted with blue lightning within the comics (one of the many traits that appear when Cole does good deeds).
A sequel, Infamous 2, was unveiled after the magazine Game Informer released images of the cover of their July 2010 issue. After an ample amount of time in development, the game was released in 2011. The game's event begins a month after the events of its predecessor.
The game received mostly positive reviews from critics. IGN's Greg Miller considered the title to be "one of the best PlayStation 3 games to date." Brad Shoemaker from Giant Bomb believed that Sucker Punch did a good job with the basic gameplay elements, tying together all of the various aspects. Critics also praised the combination of Cole's powers with the game's karma elements,, as well as the structure of the game's missions, claiming them to be a strong asset and even citing them as positive aspects of the game.
Reviewers commented positively about the setting of Empire City, as it contributed significantly to the success of the game. While the climbing and platforming gameplay were mostly praised for being well done, some pointed out that how difficult it is trying to fine-tune Cole's jumps, as his climbing was deemed to touchy, and the character would grab onto ledges too greedily.
Upon its release in May 2009, the game has managed to sell 175,900 copies in the United States during its first week. The game has sold nearly two million copies by June 2010, according to Game Informer. Infamous was awarded for Best Story by IGN and Best Acting at the 2009 Golden Game Awards, along with four additional nominations for the latter, such as Best PlayStation 3 Game, Best Graphics, Best Independent Game, and Studio of the Year. In late 2010, Infamous ranked fifth on IGN's "The Top 25 PlayStation 3 Games."
Behind the scenes
- The logo of Sly Cooper, another game series developed by Sucker Punch, can be seen on Cole's sling bag.
- While Cole tests out his powers on the rooftop, Zeke Dunbar can be seen reading Atomic Lead, a comic book published by Sucker Punch.
- Cole was given several codenames during the early stages of development: "Talon," "Gear Wolf," and "Chance." Early released information revealed that Cole was originally planned to be called Dylan.
- Early concept art depicted Cole utilizing his powers to lift a vehicle over his head. The power was cut in the final product, though it was reintroduced in Infamous 2 as a new power.
- Producer Brian Fleming stated that with a smaller team, the company's iteration-based development approach worked better, despite being able to request more people, thereby finishing the game sooner.
- Website: YouTube; Video: inFAMOUS - The Graphic Cutscenes; URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WplrwsW0UzE
- Website: Web.Archive.org; Article: inFamous soundtrack hitting iTunes in May [Update]; URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20090404025852/http://playstation.joystiq.com/2009/04/01/infamous-soundtrack-hitting-playstation-store-in-may
- Website: Web.Archive.org; Article: Not This week but next week on the store: InFAMOUS; URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20090729052046/http://www.mediamolecule.com/2009/07/27/this-week-on-the-store-infamous/
- Website: Blog.PlayStation.com; Article: UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves Single-Player Demo and PlayStation Heroes Skin Pack DLC; URL: https://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/01/22/uncharted-2-among-thieves-single-player-demo-and-playstation-heroes-skin-pack-dlc/
- Infamous front covers.png
- Website: Metacritic.com; URL: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/infamous/critic-reviews
- Website: Metacritic.com; URL: https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-3/infamous/critic-reviews
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- Website: Giantbomb.com; URL: https://www.giantbomb.com/reviews/infamous-review/1900-161/
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- Website: Giantbomb.com; Article: inFamous Review; URL: https://www.giantbomb.com/reviews/infamous-review/1900-161/
- Website: Giantbomb.com; Article: inFamous Review; URL: http://www.giantbomb.com/infamous/61-20599/reviews
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- Website: g4tv.com; URL: http://www.g4tv.com/games/ps3/35576/Infamous/review
- Website: Syfy.com; URL: https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/games
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