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Video Game: inFAMOUS
And Spider-Man thought he had great responsibility...

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

inFAMOUS is a 2009 PlayStation 3 Action Adventure Wide Open Sandbox Superhero video game developed by Sucker Punch, of Sly Cooper fame. The game is notable for its Karma Meter, which gives free rein to shape your story and how citizens react to you: Be a superhero who helps the people through catastrophe, or a supervillain who just wants to watch the world burn. Your superpowers will also develop differently depending on your morality, with some abilities functioning in new ways depending on if you’re "good" or "evil", and others being entirely exclusive to each path. The game also feature Roof Hopping gameplay that lets you get through the city by climbing buildings and traversing rooftops.

Cole MacGrath, an average-joe bike messenger in the New York stand-in of Empire City, gains electrical super powers after the device inside a package he’s delivering - called the "Ray Sphere" - causes a Mass Super-Empowering Event and rips apart several city blocks in the process. Soon after, the city is quarantined due to an apparent plague and three enigmatic gangs known as the Reapers, the Dust Men, and the First Sons begin a turf war over the city. Along with his buddy Zeke and girlfriend Trish, Cole must now battle the gangs and solve the mystery of the Ray Sphere.

Followed by the June 2011 sequel inFAMOUS 2, the October 2011 downloadable game inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood and the PlayStation 4 title inFAMOUS: Second Son.

Cole MacGrath also appears as a Guest Fighter in the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of Street Fighter X Tekken and in both his good and evil incarnations in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Empire City has areas in its sewer systems that can fit entire underground communities of homeless citizens.
  • Action Bomb: Some of the baddies attempt to charge at you with explosive vests on.
  • Action Commands: Draining energy from others and certain boss fights require tapping the square button rapidly to execute an action.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: Cole's actions effects the story's endings. He can either be good, or he can be evil. The choices are rather obvious as to whether they're good or evil, though.
  • Alternate Timeline: The entire franchise could be considered one. In the original timeline, Big Bad Kessler is in fact Cole, who lost everything to a super-powered monster called "The Beast". He traveled into the past, took control of the First Sons, and accelerated the Ray Sphere development in order to make sure that future never happened again, resulting in timeline the players are more familiar with.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Ray Sphere accelerates the development of every person with latent powers superpowers in a 6-block radius by killing every "normal" person in the area. Bizarrely, it also works on some animals, implying a similar percentage of them are conduits.
  • And I Must Scream: David from the interquel comic, who thanks to Kessler was transformed into a giant gray monster that sucks out the life force of anyone he touches, and of course has no mouth anymore.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Citizens will stand right next to an active, beeping time bomb instead of bothering to run away.
    • They'll also run toward gunfire instead of away from it and throw rocks at a guy that they know are way more powerful than they are.
  • Art Shift: Nearly all cutscenes use drawn comic book panels with simple animation instead of 3D models.
  • Automatic New Game: The game starts with a Press Start screen... but as soon as you press start, a huge explosion goes off and you're right into the action. After this, your most recently played save file is automatically loaded each time the game starts up.
  • Awesome but Impractical: On the enemy side of things, no less. First Sons conduits have the ability to create a huge aura form around them which essentially turns them into giant monsters... slow, lumbering, weak giant monsters that make for ridiculously easy targets and have no ranged attacks. You are probably going to find the regular First Sons mooks, with their simple assault rifles and no superpowers, far more of a threat.
  • Bad Future: Kessler hails from a future where a superpowered monster called "The Beast" destroyed the entire world.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Good Cole's abilities lean towards non-lethal takedowns and precision. Evil Cole's abilities lean towards slaughtering as many people as possible, as fast as possible, as painfully and explosively as possible.
  • Bald of Evil: Every one of the supervillains, including the female Sasha. Evil Cole has peach fuzz of evil.
  • Batman Gambit: The success of Kessler's entire plan turns out to be based on his intimate understanding of Cole. Most notably already knowing who Cole will choose to save when given the choice between six doctors and his girlfriend Trish, Kessler puts Trish with the group Cole leaves to die.
  • Beef Gate: The game discourages you from going into blacked-out parts of the city by providing far fewer places to recharge/heal yourself and making bad guys far more numerous there.
  • Being Good Sucks: In the Hero ending, Cole notes he's an outcast at the government's mercy, in stark contrast to the Evil ending, where he proclaims himself master of all he can see.
  • Betty and Veronica: The down to earth paramedic Trish and the insane super-villainess Sasha.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the Hero ending, the city is saved, but your girlfriend Trish is dead, the monstrous Kessler turned out to be a future version of you, and something called "The Beast" will soon appear to destroy the world.
    • Not to mention Moya and Sasha are still at large (though they at least get taken care of in the comics), Cole still has doubts about Zeke after his betrayal, and Cole knows that even though the people worship him as a hero now, the minute he screws up, they'll be at his neck again.
    Cole: I've never been so alone.
  • Black and White Morality: Cole's karmic choices are split entirely between being a superhero out to save the people or a petty, vindictive and selfish supervillain.
  • Bland-Name Product: Cafe Con Quistador, a coffee shop whose logo bears an amazing resemblance to Starbucks', only blue.
  • Boom, Headshot: Shooting enemies in the head will cause critical damage, though tougher enemies like the First Sons' troops can still take one or two headshots without dying.
  • Boring but Practical: Despite starting off with the ability to shoot lightning out of your fingertips and eventually learning how to blast enemies into the air, pound them guided plasma balls and bring down the wrath of Zeus on entire streets of them, the powers you're probably going to find the most useful are hovering, riding wires, and being able to aim.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Enemy gang Conduits, who have higher HP than regular mooks and abilities usually associated with boss enemies.
  • Bullying a Dragon: People will throw rocks and try to physically assault evil Cole despite knowing full well he has no qualms about killing anyone who crosses him.
  • Breaking Speech: Cole gets this from Alden, and Kessler. However, Kessler is less interested in breaking Cole and more interested in provoking a defiant response.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Kessler has been following Cole is whole life. More specifically, he has Trish killed to try ensure Cole will become a hero who will act for the greater good.
  • Camera Screw: The screen will fade to black and white when you're badly injured, making it harder to pick out attacking einemies.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted. DARPA agent Moya appears to be helping you, but she just wants that Ray Sphere she helped fund to further US government interests. On the other hand, NSA agent John White is the one working to destroy the Ray Sphere.
  • Closed Circle: Empire City has been quarantined following the explosion because of a spreading plague. And the military isn't kidding; an early mission is a blatant escape attempt only to watch quite a few NPCs mowed down by a wall of machine guns at an exit point. Later on, gangbangers put hostages out for display on boats so the Navy won't sink them as they leave for open waters. The player makes sure it doesn't come to that, but Mission Control assures him the gangbangers are wrong. Also happens on a smaller scale; the routes into different boroughs are closed until the plot opens them.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The various TVs spread across the city will report on some of your actions, but only when you happen to be nearby.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Good Cole's lightning is blue, Evil Cole's lightning is red, and an irredeemably evil Cole's lightning turns jet black.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The point of the karma meter. You can use your powers for selfish actions, draining people for energy and powerful attacks with splash damage that hurt innocent civilians or you can help and heal civilians and focus on precise attacks on enemies.
  • Compensating for Something: Moya mentions Alden's tower, which is the single highest point on the map, might have something to do with his daddy issues.
  • The Corruption: The Reaper's mind-controlling tar, which turns regular citizens into more Reapers under Sasha's control.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Any conduit caught in a Ray Sphere blast gains superpowers, while thousands are dead and more are dying.
  • Crapsack World: inFAMOUS's world is a pretty lousy place to live.
    • The Peak Oil scare-poster on Zeke's roof and a gas station with gas at almost nine dollars a gallon.
      • Justified, the place is in quarantine and fuel of any kind is in low supply, so driving cars is a privilege. Also, almost every car has some external damage of some kind as a result of the quarantine.
    • The narmy female national news anchor telling Blatant Lies about the government helping Empire City after they've basically abandoned the place.
      • The quarantine, for that matter, was set up way too fast. It was set up before one even knew what happened during the explosion, as if the goverment was waiting for it.
  • Deal with the Devil: Zeke gives Kessler the Ray Sphere after being promised super-powers. Unfortunately for Zeke, he ends up getting nothing.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Superhumans are all called "Conduits", a term created by the First Sons for a percentage of humanity that have a gene that's been mutated by ray field radiation.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: Targetting your enemies, or you depending on karma.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • After the first mission, Cole will be attacked by the townspeople. If he chose the good path, Cole calls them out on it.
    • If Cole was at the Hero rank and used the Ray Sphere to become Infamous, then the majority of the posters of Cole have been doodled on, crossed out, and have stickers with broken hearts on them. This shows the citizens of Empire City really looked up to Cole, and are disappointed by his decision.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted, as whether you're a Hero or Infamous, people will either worship or fear you, but played straight in that many of your missions have you be someone's errand boy. At least Good missions are for a good cause... usually.
    • Played straight in the beginning - even if you cut down the food, the Voice of Survival will blame you for the attack, and nearby pedestrians will throw rocks at you as if you were evil-side. Justified, as people think that you blew up the city. Lampshaded: "Come on, I gave you the food!"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the later games, the original is much darker, grim and less saturated due to the Quarantine, with a boat-load of government conspiracies and shady actions, including a possible shift in the way the United States are being run. Cole himself is also much more cynical compared to in the sequel. There's also the sudden Time Travel element introduced near the end, which doesn't come up for the rest of the series.
  • Electric Slide: Cole is the master of this trope. He grinds on electricity as a way of transportation and gets electricity from it.
    • Even before that superpower that allows him to grind, Cole can balance and walk on electric wires without any support.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Done with an interesting mechanic. At the end of the penultimate mission, you get the choice of either destroying the Ray Sphere, the device that started the whole mess and gave Cole superpowers, which is a good action, or use it willingly to enhance your powers further, which is an action so evil it automatically kicks your karma down to "infamous" level and sticks it there permanently. You then gain the ability to carry more energy than ever, and your lightning is now black and surrounded by a red hue, which is ridiculously awesome.
  • Elite Mooks: The gangs all have Conduits among their ranks, with powers comparable to, but weaker, than the gang leaders. Reaper Conduits can teleport and create a traveling explosion along the ground, Dust Men Conduits can telekinetically manipulate junk into spawning robots and mecha suits to attack you, and First Sons Conduits have much more bizarre abilities like creating giant auras around themselves or cloaking.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Zig-zagged. Big Bad Kessler is going to unleash Conduits everywhere and the chaos will destroy the world. Just kidding! Kessler is actually trying to save the world from the real Big Bad, called the Beast.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Kessler's motives and intentions seemed to be for helping the greater good, and defeating the Beast that he was too scared to fight, but Evil Cole only does things to take what he wants and show the world that he's superior.
  • Evil Pays Better: Many consider the evil powers better (they're much more offensive-based and throw out more projectiles, as compared to the good powers' focus on taking out one target or simply increasing damage), and taking the evil choices makes most missions easier. However they're actually fairly balanced. Evil Cole gets more splash damage, but Good Cole doesn't need to worry about charging up.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Alden's ramshackle tower of junk.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Reapers, Dust Men, and First Sons are at war over territory. And even if you choose the evil path, all three of them are still your enemies.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Zeke, but he doesn't do much evil. Cole scapegoats him for killing Trish, however.
  • Faceless Goons: The Reapers are In the Hood, the Dust Men hide their faces behind trash bags, and the First Sons are Gas Mask Mooks.
  • The Fettered / The Unfettered: Good karma nets you precise, efficient powers. Evil karma nets you flashy, destructive powers that destroy everything around you.
  • Fisher King: In the postgame, the state of Empire City reflects your choices. It's a sunny paradise if you won the game as Good Cole... and a hellish disaster area with red skies if you won as Evil Cole.
  • Flash Step / Teleport Spam: Kessler, rather annoyingly. To a lesser extent, the Reaper Conduits, UA Vs, and some First Sons Conduits can even teleport while invisible.
  • Flight: This seems to be one of the more common Conduit powers. A dead drop in the game speaks of a lab rat that gained flight in a ray sphere experiment.
  • Foreshadowing: During the boss fight with Alden, he says that "you (Cole) and Kessler are one in the same!"
    • During the fight with Sasha, she will say "You don't know, do you? Of course not. But you'll find out soon enough... Oh, how you'll weep." She also says, "Why, Kessler? Why do you love her? (Trish)" These both reference the fact that Kessler is Cole.
    • Kessler is Foreshadowing on legs; while sparse, all of his dialog outside of dead-drop recordings focuses solely on Cole's personal growth. In the dead-drops, he never actually discusses any type of plan we expect the Big Bad to have. Despite John's assertions that Kessler is dangerous because he's a "true believer," he never says what Kessler believes in, but we sure find out at the end. Dead Drops reveal he specified Cole as the Ray Sphere carrier, among other things.
      • The final battle is a short term version, as Kessler's attacks are just bigger, meaner versions of things Cole can do, i.e. Lightning Storm bolts as a basic attack, using Thunder Drop without needing to fall long distances, etc.
  • For Want of a Nail: So many tiny things could have gone wrong with Kessler's plan that it's amazing he managed to get it to work at all. See also Gambit Roulette below.
  • Future Me Scares Me: It bothers Cole when he finds out that Kessler is himself from an alternate future. In Kessler's timeline, he ran away from the powerful being known as the Beast, getting his family and everyone else killed. Which is why he came back in time and orchestrated the events of the entire game to make Cole stronger.
  • Gambit Roulette: Kessler's plan fails if it works out the way he expects: He expects Cole to try to use the Ray Sphere to boost his powers but the kind of Cole who does that won't fight the Beast.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The First Sons troops in general, usually with air tanks on their backs.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Moya is afraid of what could happen if terrorists get their hands on the Ray Sphere and start making their own super-powered fighters with bonus collateral damage every time.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Blast Shards, Dead Drops, and Stunts in the sense that they all appear in a list, to be completed as you perform them, one by one.
  • Heel-Face Turn: After Zeke betrays Cole and goes with Kessler, he makes up for it by at least trying to help Cole in his fight to the death with the old man. He gets tossed a good 50 yards for his trouble, but makes it out okay.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Subverted. If you choose the "good" path, people will begin to seriously doubt Voice of Survival's claim that you were the one who set off the explosion, and will even put up motivational posters featuring Cole. If you go the "bad" path, you really aren't giving them any reason to doubt him.
    • Doubly subverted late in the game if you catch the final Voice of Survival broadcast, when Dallas is killed by the First Sons, while screaming "I did what you asked!" The implication is that Dallas was allowed by Kessler to make his broadcasts on the condition that he smear Cole no matter what path the player takes.
    • And averted by the normal news broadcast, which quotes a government official not painting Cole out as a bad guy, but simply denying that individuals have become superhuman at all.
  • Short Range Shotgun: Cole can't wield one, due to a lack of Required Secondary Powers to keep it from blowing up in his hands. Various enemies do possess them, however. Each shot does slightly less damage than a rocket/grenade explosion, but shotgun-wielding mooks tend to get almost close enough to punch before firing.
  • Sociopathic Hero: According to Alternate Character Interpretation, Kessler. And if you take the evil route, then Cole himself.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cole and Zeke, so much so that they manage to patch up their friendship after Zeke's temporary Face-Heel Turn.
  • Horror Hunger: Subverted. Ya know neuro-electricity? The little bolts of lightning in your head that lets your brain send messages to the body that tell it to, oh I don't know, BREATHE. Guess what good Cole can feed on when there are no alternatives... Guess what bad Cole likes to feed on any damn way?
  • 100% Heroism Rating: People will applaud you, ask you for assistance, take pictures of you, et cetera, if you're on the good side. Being bad gets you booed, have rocks thrown at you, and, if you're terrible enough, people attacking you constantly.
    • Also, if you're good, then in the middle of fights, they might throw rocks at your enemies. It gets really helpful if they manage to stop a rocket-launcher-toting foe from blasting you long enough to blow him away first.
      • But gets annoying when they run right at the bad guy you just tossed an explosive of your own at.
  • I Let You Win: Kessler tests Cole in the final battle of the game, making sure that he is strong enough to face "the Beast" by having Cole kill him.
    • Subverted, however, in that Kessler has no qualms about KILLING Cole if he doesn't measure up: in his eyes, a hero too weak to take on the Beast is no hero at all.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • Surprisingly averted; most bad guys have very good aim from very far away (even with old Stens) and unless you use cover or sniping ability, they'll whittle down your health remarkably fast. Good Thing You Can Heal...
    • Civilians also have awesome aim with those rocks.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: All of the standard mooks in the game are capable of sniping at you from on top of a twenty-story building, despite being gangbangers and the homeless instead of trained fighters. Justified with the First Sons, who very likely have been trained. Civilians also have amazing aim with rocks and can hit targets from a good couple of feet away.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: The surveillance devices are big, out in the open, and constantly flashing red.
  • Instant Armor: Dust Men mecha conduits... annoyingly. While the Golems they build out of junk are about fifteen feet tall, Alden creates one that's so big it takes up an entire bridge (and we don't even see all of it, just the head and forearms).
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Despite being able to climb anything that's not made of greased glass, Cole can't climb a chain-link fence. Most of them can be jumped over, and the ones that can't are usually extended from a ceiling to the floor. You can glitch through them quite easily, however. Also, Cole can't shoot through them, or anything metallic for that matter, because his shots, being electricity, are conducted into them. More than one power can get an attack around fences, though...
    • Cole can't swim cause water conducts electricity and kills him. This is important when traveling in sewers and traveling between islands.
  • Invisibility / Invisibility Cloak: Some First Sons conduits, some drones and the cloaking devices in one of the story missions.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: The Dust Men's tower in The Warren.
  • Jerk Ass: Dallas. Evil Cole can be this.
  • Karma Houdini: Played straight with a number of characters, but eventually averted with the DC inFamous interquel comic, which explains the events between the first and second games—
    • Alden, who despite all the crap he did survives jumping off a bridge into the ocean (being a Conduit). Doesn't last for long though, as in the interquel Moya captures him and has the military scientists dissect him for research.
    • Moya, who despite setting up a fake quarantine and helping to build the Ray Sphere, had nothing happen to her by the end of the game. Averted in the interquel, where she ends up trapped under debris in a sinking ship after Cole wrecks the place to stop David. Though in her last moments, she does tell Cole to forget about her and save himself, so she really did care about stopping the Beast more than anything else.
    • And pretty much zigzagged by Sasha who gets extracted by the First Sons before Cole can finish her off and ends up escaping after the end of the game. On the other hand, Sasha was kidnapped and tortured by Kessler before getting away, so she didn't exactly get off easy. Repeated in the interquel, where she this time gets kidnapped and tortured by Moya, before escaping yet again.
  • Karma Meter: Cole gets different powers and responses from the public depending on whether he's good or bad. This is even a part of his Finishing Move, since he can chose to restrain the goons, or suck the life out of 'em. As is almost universal for karma systems, however, your final karma and your ending is ultimately decided by a specific choice as the game draws to a close. Notably, most karma choices don't change the plot all that much, and instead focus solely on Cole's character development. It's frequently debated on whether this is a clever way of making a karma system that makes more sense than in most games, or lazy writing that makes choices pointless.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Zeke decides to call Cole to talk about creating merchandise based on Cole, while the latter is in the middle of defending medical supplies from a horde of Reapers.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Your final place on the Karma Meter is decided by a certain choice just before the final choice. Granted, the evil option is pretty bad.
  • Le Parkour: How Cole gets around. Pretty much anything can be scaled, and he can even grind on powerlines. Shamelessly justified in-game; Cole's hobby is stated as urban exploration and parkour. Also, electric forces allow stuff like climbing on various surfaces (see how geckos do it) and stopping him from turning into a pile of gore from a giant heights.
  • Life Energy: The Healing Hands and Bioleech ability rely on this idea. Also, Cole's Healing Factor is justified by having him absorb electricity.
    • See above the mention of Cole being close to an energy being, this power makes sense then for him electricity is life energy, thus he is essentially sharing his own powers with others long enough to heal them, like a life saving transformation that lasts a few seconds.
    • Also The ray sphere and RFI work like this, manipulating energy that aids conduits. The Ray Sphere takes the energy from regular people and gives it to conduits activating/boosting their powers, the energy that it uses to do this is a kind of anti life energy, causing the plague in the games. The RFI works the opposite way, clearing away the energy that caused the plague, but killing conduits, even ones without active powers,the exact way that works is unclear, but is probably a reversal of the way the blast cores gives Cole new powers, damaging conduits instead of strengthening them.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Either that, or Cole can do anything with lightning - restraints, Healing Hands, levitation, Deflector Shields...
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Since he's at the epicenter of the explosion, Cole gets the brunt of the power-boosts, but the large number of superpowered gang members (and their exceptionally more powerful leaders) that pop up afterwards indicate that it has an effect on those nearby that it doesn't destroy.
  • Meaningful Name: Cole = coal, which is something you burn to get electricity. Kessler is presumably named after the Piccard-Kessler experiment regarding the electrical field of a moving charge. The man who will destroy the world is referred to as "the Beast."
  • Mercy Rewarded: If you obtain the maximum good karma rank by helping bystanders through the game, they'll start throwing rocks at enemies for you.
  • Mind over Matter: Multiple Conduits have some form of this.
    • Cole himself can hurl things around using electromagnetic shockwaves. It's difficult to aim thrown objects with any accuracy, but great for throwing people off of buildings.
    • Reaper conduits have a shockwave attack that travels along the ground which can also fling objects (including Cole) into the air.
    • Dustmen seem to be using something like TK to animate their scrap scorpions.
    • Alden Tate's signature power, first demonstrated when he throws a bus at Cole. Presumably it's what allows him to control his giant trash-mecha.
    • Some First Son conduits make a giant psychic projection of themselves that can stomp around and attack with the strength of a 15-foot tall guy.
  • Mind Probe: Both Cole and Kessler have this ability to some extent; Cole can see vague images in the mind of someone recently dead if he touches them, sometimes giving useful clues, and Kessler can directly implant his own memories into Cole by grabbing his head.
  • Mini-Mecha: Dustmen Armored Conduits create these for themselves out of scrap. Alden's gone one too, though it's considerably less "mini."
  • Mook Chivalry: Does not exist. Your enemies will attack en masse, attack from ambush, and take full advantage of cover. In fact, if you try to place the Precision crosshairs on a mook's head and they see you're aiming at them, they'll actually dive under any cover present.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, the game considers you irredeemably evil if you decide to use the Ray Sphere to gain more power. You become a lot more powerful, but you are immediately kicked down to the "infamous" rank, permanently.
  • Mythology Gag: The game is full of shout outs to Sucker Punch's PS2 Sly Cooper series
    • Sly's calling card logo is stamped on Cole's backpack
    • One movie theater says it's showing Sly 4 on the marquee, a possible teaser for Sly's fourth game.
    • The mission involving decontaminating fountains tainted with tar is taken almost wholesale from the first chapter of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.
    • Climbing the large statue in Archer Square at the start of inFAMOUS is structurally similar to Clockwerk's Death Ray from the end of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus.
    • The Static Thrusters allow you to glide using R1, the same button used for Sly's paraglider.
    • The cutscenes of both series are similar, using 2D artwork with little animation instead of the CGI used in gameplay.
    • inFamous 2 DLC allows you to replace Cole's Amp with Sly's cane.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kessler could have stopped the Beast, but decided to flee instead of putting his family in danger. In the end, his family was killed anyway and the Beast grew too powerful for Kessler to do anything about it, making him curse his decision to flee in the first place.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Cole and John who by deciding to destroy the Ray Sphere unleashed the real Pandora's Box: the Beast.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: Late in the game, the military starts bombing Empire City in preparation for a ground invasion because Moya can't guarantee her superiors she'll bring them the Ray Sphere anymore. Sufficient to say, considering what it can do, everyone and their mother is willing to go to great lengths to get the Ray Sphere.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Sucker Punch has stated that the evil karma endings are always "What If?" scenarios, with Hero Cole being the canon version. However, the sequel will still make minor changes to the story if you import an "evil" playthrough from the first game.
  • No FEMA Response: After the opening destruction, the government occasionally drops food and medical supplies, but no personnel enter the area, and there are groups of soldiers with authorization to use deadly force on anyone attempting to leave the city.
  • Oh, Crap: Cole, on seeing Alden's ginormous trash-golem form: "Holy shit."
  • Paint It Black:
    • If you choose to take evil actions, Cole's skin and clothes become proportionally desaturated, making his flesh ashen and his clothes black and white. In the second game, Cole's amp will also rust over and his tattoos change, along with his shirts.
    • Getting sprayed by the Reapers' mind-control tar makes you temporarily covered in the stuff.
  • People Of Mass Destruction: Most notably the Beast, but all Conduits count. Cole calls them just that.
  • Phone-Trace Race: A variation, in that John is (justifiably) paranoid about the First Sons pulling this on him. As a result, during his conversations with you, he ends each statement with a reminder of how many seconds he has before he has to hang up to avoid the trace.
  • The Plague: Created in Empire City because of the Ray Sphere blast.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: The penultimate evil choice has Cole activating the Ray Sphere a second time for a power upgrade. In actual gameplay, this power upgrade amounts to different-colored lightning and an extension on the energy meter.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Of a sort. Kessler made a critical mistake in the future timeline. How does he make sure Cole doesn't repeat the one decision that ultimately got Trish killed? By killing Trish himself.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The First Sons' favorite approach to activating conduits involve massive sacrifice of life, torture, and body horror. More humane options have either been scrapped or delayed beyond any good use. And then there is the plague-inducing fallout of the Ray sphere.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Cole spends more of the game talking to himself about the difficulties of living in a quarantined city even with superpowers than to other people, and will begin monologuing at any point which affects the Karma Meter.
  • Public Domain Animation: Zeke loves em.
  • Rare Guns: The Dust Men have extremely large quantities of WW2 Sterling SMGs. The First Sons tote around FAMAS rifles.
    • FAMAS rifles are actually pretty easy to find, being produced in huge quantities for the French military, so a secret paramilitary organization like the First Sons would have no trouble getting their hands on them.
  • Red Herring: Hey, Kessler's ultimate power was time travel, and Cole is Kessler, so that means Cole will eventually learn how to do it too! Except the plot wraps up in too short a time for it to happen.
  • Ride the Lightning: No need to explain this one! Even one of the stunts is called this!
  • Sadistic Choice: Kessler pulls this on Cole. Cole is given the choice to save six doctors, or save Trish, his girlfriend—but it is really no choice at all. If you try to save Trish, it turns out she is with the six doctors, but if you try to save the six doctors, Trish isn't with them. You just can't save her. Since Kessler is Cole, he knew exactly what choice Cole would make.
  • Scenic Tour Level: Cole McGrath walking through the crater created by the Ray Sphere.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: Makes the Sadistic Choice that much more sadistic. No matter what you do, you won't save Trish.
  • Self-Made Man: Kessler's Evil Plan.
  • Sequel Hook: The first game ends on a massive one, leaving many loose ends very untied.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What Kessler is trying to do, though a lot of his actions, and even his very existence as noted in Temporal Paradox, actually make things even worse. Kessler himself would disagree, though, since he views even the unforeseen consequences of his actions as the lesser of two evils.
  • Shock and Awe: Cole's powers. The basic ability is a simple bolt from the hand. Variations include ball lightning that sticks and explodes a la plasma grenades, and the ability to rain giant bolts of lightning down from the heavens.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • The fight with Sasha will irritate Cole, who mutters "shut up" constantly every time she rambles (which is often). Then you get to knock out her lights for real, in which case, she only contacts you twice afterwards - more if you're evil.
  • Skyward Scream: Delivered by Cole, as Trish falls to her death and he screams her name. Also one of the few times in the series where Cole breaks his standard Idle Animation during gameplay.
  • Space Compression: Empire City is supposed to be a smaller stand-in for New York (with lots of bits of other cities tossed in) with a population of one-and-a-half million before the blast; the map is absolutely tiny compared to this concept, however. Compare the number of buildings on the map to one of the boroughs in a map of Liberty City, for example. Note that this seems to be a deliberate design decision; as a consequence, the city is very easy to navigate even without the aid of Cole's powers, but it still feels massive thanks to some dense urban areas, lots of NPCs on the streets (more than there are buildings for) as well as lots of vertical space to navigate.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Late in the game, while traveling with John, he informs you that he was following Cole on his way to the delivery point. He was trying to catch up to stop him, but Cole ran a red light, causing John not to get there in time. Thus, obey traffic laws or you'll blow up a city. John chuckles at how ridiculous it is.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The Ray Sphere.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: You can download for free the ability to generate electric "swords" from your hands in order to do more melee damage at the cost of draining energy.
  • Stalking Mission: The Missions where you follow the Couriers.
  • Standard Powerup Pose: Cole does this really awkward pose when he gets powered up by the amp.
  • Sticky Bomb: There's even a trophy for sticking enough grenades to mooks, called "Oh, You've Done This Before".
  • Strawman News Media: USTV is portrayed squarely as Type 2, sheepishly repeating the government's position by blatantly lying about the situation in Empire City, congratulating government aid (when it only comes in the form of a crate of prunes - at least they send in a lot of medical supplies) and denying the very existence of Cole. That it's "USTV" suggests that the news media has been nationalized, on top of everything.
  • Stupid Evil: Some of the evil choices Cole can make are really just evil for evil's sake, and sometimes even come across as highly illogical and requiring much more effort than the good choice. The crowning example is when Cole can choose to either briefly talk to an electrician who has barricaded himself in a room and get him to peacefully stand down, or use his powers to blow open the door and flat out kill him instead.
    • One Particularly glaring example is found in a Sadistic Choice towards the end of the game where Cole can either choose the good option to save a bunch of doctors or the evil option to save Trish, and no matter how you look at it, the evil option doesn't make sense.
      • If you've played through the game as good Cole this will be a tough choice, since Cole loves Trish, but in the end you'll save the doctors because its the right thing to do.
      • If you've played the game as evil Cole, you'll pick the good option and save the doctors because Trish has been nothing but a complete Jerkass to evil Cole throughout the entire game, antagonizing him all the way, so you'll probably be happy to see her plummet to her death for being such a massive jerk to you.
      • If its your second play-through or you just cheated and looked up the outcome of each choice online, you'll save the doctors because Trish dies either way, so there's literally no point in trying to save her.
  • Superhero: The game aims to get into the "headspace" of what it means to be an ordinary man given an extraordinary ability. Cole played evilly starts as an anti-hero but turns into a Psycho Electro, with his electricity turning from blue to red.
  • Take a Third Option: Averted. You can't weasel your way out of either of the sadistic choices; at least one of Kessler's hostages will die.
  • Take That:
    • Tax Loophole Productions presents "Alone in the House of Blood!" Even its poster gives it condescending reviews, such as "Craptastic".
    • The game is full of this, but they're carefully placed so you won't notice unless you're right on top of the sign. For example, "Mid-Life Cycles" is heavily advertised, and there's an "outdoorsy" store with the slogan "Clothes for people who want other people to think they're outdoorsy".
  • Take Your Time: Trish has informed Cole that a box of medical supplies has landed nearby and she needs him to protect it from the Reapers. And Cole gets right on it after doing a few side missions, finding some blast shards, locating a few dead drops, healing (or sucking the life out of) a couple hundred people. Even during missions where the character stresses speed, there doesn't seem to be any reason not to wander around and grab a few things.
  • They Were Holding You Back: Kessler believes in this trope after realizing that prioritizing his family over fighting the Beast is what doomed the world. So he makes sure he gets rid of them for Cole first so he'll always make the choice for the greater good.
  • Time Travel: Turns out to be a major part of the game's plot, though you don't learn it until the end of the game. Since it comes at the very, very end, no one really knows how the Timey-Wimey Ball works, but one-way backwards time travel was Kessler's final power.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Some commuters in Empire City will drive right through super-powered shootouts on the street without changing speed or direction.
    • Jaywalking citizens will step out in front of these inexorable commuters with alarming frequency, and then you have to heal them.
    • Mooks with rocket-launchers will not hesitate to fire them from point-blank range.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • This applies to Cole, obviously, as he powers up throughout the game, but it also applies to Kessler, in hindsight. To wit: Kessler is just Cole from the future with a somewhat-different power set. Cole was a bike messenger. So Kessler is a (super-powered) bike messenger who somehow managed to research exotic technology and become a super-genius super villain on his own. Apparently all Cole needed was a little motivation. Having your wife, children, best friend and a whole heap of people killed by a super powered monster would have probably helped him get 'motivated'.
    • Visible quite prominently during the final boss fight, as all of Kessler's powers are heavy duty upgrades of Cole's - he punches with a Shockwave, his ground pound is recognizably the Thunder Drop, he uses Shock Grenades, and his main beam attack is some sort of combination of Overload Burst and Arc Lightning. That might be the reason why his energy limit seems infinite
      • There is one important point to be observed in the final battle: Kessler does not have the Megawatt Hammer, the Polarity Wall, the Static Thrusters, and the Lightning Strike. Seeing as these are some of your most useful and powerful abilities, this means that you've become more powerful than Kessler, or at the very least more developed than him. True, Kessler may have all sorts of technological know-how, but if he took a level in badass, Cole took two.
    • Played with again in the interquel comic's finale, where after getting his ass handed to him for the past five issues, Cole more or less goes through Kessler's own revelation that walking away has never gotten him anywhere, and proceeds to cut David limb from limb, explode a tank of jet fuel in his face, and then blow him to pieces with a bolt of lightning powerful enough to sink an aircraft carrier.
  • Trash of the Titans: The Dust Men create a shantytown in the center of a former park, complete with improvised gun turrets, a moat, and a massive tower built of random junk, with construction equipment and unfastened steel beams everywhere. They apparently suck at engineering, though, because to build most of it, they've been kidnapping engineers and construction workers.
  • Twist Ending: At least twenty tropes on this page would not be here if it weren't for the game's ending. And they're all in spoiler tags because it's that huge a twist. Thanks a lot, ending!
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Subverted; Kessler does some terrible, outrageous things so that Cole can defeat the Beast and save the world, but he doesn't seem to worry about what society ends up as so much as society surviving.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • You can save civilians from muggings by gang members
    • You can use your "Healing Touch" to save injured or dying civilians.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • The life drain attack allows you to kill nearly enemy or other npc in the game by sucking the life out of them as they struggle to stop you.
    • Using Thunder Storm on crowded streets.
    • Fry someone, then heal them so you can fry them again.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: On the Evil route, civilians will throw rocks at you and female citizens will try to kick you in the crotch.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Moya gives you missions and info during the first two-thirds of the game, only for John White to take that role for most of the final third.
  • Walking Wasteland: The Reapers start putting out massive amounts of black plague tar everywhere so they can infect more people, which will either kill them or turn them into more Reapers. The tar is revealed as coming from a single source—Sasha herself. She must be producing gallons of the stuff by the hour.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The first time there's a city-wide blackout, Cole nearly passes out. Cole's abilities are severely dampened if he doesn't have nearby sources of electricity to draw on. Fortunately, he can draw energy from his enemies (and innocent bystanders.)
  • Wham Line: Cole: "Yet the thing that drove him forward, Kessler’s sole link to the past, was a picture from his wedding day... When he married Trish, with Zeke as his best man. My brain lurched, unable to accept that Kessler and I were the same person."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lots of this happens if you play an evil Cole, and it's inverted if you play a good Cole, where it all comes from Kessler, the villain, because the only actual goal he's been working towards the entire time is hardening Cole against the necessity to make difficult choices for the good of the many and the ensuing psychological trauma now, before he'll actually have to make choices that will determine the fate of the entire human race. He views most of the Good choices as being detrimental to Cole's ability to save the world.
    • The notable exception is the Sadistic Choice, where Cole and Kessler actually agree on which choice is the morally bad one. Of course, depending on what the player has to say about it, this doesn't mean that Cole will do what he knows is right...
    • In-Game Example: Do something wacky like you would in a Grand Theft Auto game, like, say, blow up a gas station, and Zeke will call you out on it (he doesn't seem to mind, though).
  • What the Hell, Player?: Pressing Start for the first game on a new playthrough initiates the Blast.
  • White and Grey Morality:
    • While there are genuinely good people such as the police force, Trish, there are also few malevolently "evil" characters in the series. The majority are only people working for what they believe is right, tragic monsters, and those who have been driven batshit insane.
    • The exceptions, however, are notable for how extreme they are. A fully Infamous Cole — especially in the first game — as opposed to a Cole who makes some story-crucial Evil decisions, is also among the truly evil characters.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity:
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In one plot related mission, the Mind Screw tar creates hallucinations of transparent reapers. Unlike the ones you see during the first dose, these ones can and will kill you.

Sly 3: Honor Among ThievesCreator/Sucker PunchinFAMOUS 2
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IncaAction AdventureinFAMOUS 2
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alternative title(s): Infamous; Ptitlesb46a9nj
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