Hero or Villain?

The PlayStation 3 game Infamous is the first of a very successful series of games under the Infamous moniker. The world of Infamous is set in a post-apocalyptic American city named Empire City, where the protagonist, Cole MacGrath, and a few other people have just been endowed with super powers from a radioactive blast that Cole was at ground zero for. The gameplay begins immediately after the blast as the player guides Cole through learning his powers and using them to face the many problems he faces as a result of the blast.

Empire City – Infamous (ps3)

The way the game handles this is where Infamous differs from many games. Instead of forcing the player to play through a chronological arrangement of levels with a set narrative, Infamous allows the player some freedom to choose the order of tasks as well as determine the narrative surrounding them. It accomplishes this by adding a “karma meter” which is a reflection of the players moral choices throughout the game. The meter is moved from a starting neutral position towards “hero” and “infamous” by different choices the player makes in game. This meter has real implications for the player by affecting the game dialog, Cole’s abilities, and in many ways the appearance of the game itself.

Karma – Infamous (ps3)

The heavily game-altering aspect of the “karma meter” highlights the difference between plot and story by allowing the player to essentially choose the story they wish the game to have. Through altering the karma meter a few of the missions will change and the ending will be slightly different, however the majority of events and dialog will remain unchanged, rendering the plot more or less the same. This is seen when Cole must choose between saving the love of his life, Trish, or allowing bombs to detonate and kill thousands. Regardless of the moral choice made, or the Karma meter, Cole will not be able to save Trish. However, the story is actually quite different from the plot depending on the karma meter. If played with good karma, Cole gets a touching moment with Trish where she tells him she is proud of who he has become. This difference between plot and story becomes more evident as the game progresses. The citizens of Empire City will actually help you fight in battles if your karma is good and will attack you if it is not. This aspect of the game inspired me to choose this game because by playing the game differently and observing the different aesthetic changes through the lens of spacial storytelling narrative clues are easier to spot in other games.


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