inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood
Sucker Punch Productions
Sony Computer Entertainment
PlayStation 3 (PSN)
Action-Adventure, Open World
October 25th, 2011
Sucker Punch gives inFAMOUS fans another reason to jump into the shoes of Cole MacGrath with inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood on the PlayStation Network. As a non-cannon addition to the franchise, Festival of Blood adds new powers, story, and even some features that carry over into inFAMOUS 2. Will Festival of Blood be something to sink your teeth into or will the $10 price scare buyers away?
In a lonely bar somewhere in New Marais, Zeke Dunbar sits alone drinking by himself while reading a comic book. When a very lovely woman walks into the bar Zeke offers to buy her a drink, only to get shot down for reading a comic about vampires. When he mentions that the comic saved the life of his best friend Cole MacGrath, her interest piques, so Zeke begins to tell her the story...
Pyre Night in New Marais is a holiday steeped in Creole tradition. Meant to be the celebration of the town's victory over the powerful vampire "Bloody Mary" generations ago, the streets fill with revelers as they burn an effigy of the vampire. All is going well until there is a collapse in the catacombs underneath the city. Cole rushes in to help and finds himself attacked by one of the collapse’s supposed victims. He awakens staring at a shriveled and withered corpse. His captors surround him and one cuts him, allowing the blood to fall into the corpse's mouth. Slowly he watches in horror as the corpse becomes a beautiful woman. She bites Cole and as he tries to retaliate, finds that she is completely immune to his electricity. She tells him that he will be her servant once the sun rises, yet another vampire under her control. Cole flees and with Zeke's help he must find a way to subvert the vampire plot, kill Bloody Mary, and lift the curse before the entire city is lost to the vampire menace, all before the sun rises in eight short hours!
inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood runs off a modified engine created for inFAMOUS 2, so players can expect the same graphical quality and feel as that game. Of course to match the Halloween lover's dream theme setting, some great changes can be seen in the familiar setting of New Marais. The game takes place entirely at night for one, and the sconces and fires light an entertaining show of dancing shadows wherever you look. This was a very welcomed effect and really helped set the mood for me. The vampires themselves have a very classic vampire feel, with nosferatu style faces and white skin. The "First born" are even more frightening being large humanoid bats that hide in human form. Old locales are redecorated to suit Pyre Night as well. An outdoor stage in the center of the southern section of the city is decorated with fake flames and images of vampires and other ghouls. Even Pyre Night posters can be seen around town, and any who stop to look around will notice the attention to atmosphere Sucker Punch took careful consideration to include. TV's feature Pyre Night ads that are hilarious, and even the town's theatre marquis advertises "horror-ified" titles based on PlayStation 3 games. You can't help but admire the details in Festival of Blood.
One thing that was noticeably absent is an abundance of blood. It sounds strange to say but many times you would expect blood to play a prominent visual role, it does not. Cole can drink the blood of any passerby on the street, but doing so somehow leaves no mess whatsoever. It seems as if much of the games blood effects were dropped from the games initial announcement trailer to the final product to be able to avoid a Mature ESRB rating. There are blood effects in the game, but they come from the vampires, not the humans, so players expecting buckets of the stuff might feel a little left out.
Festival of Blood's soundtrack features many Cajun style melodies that have a sinister edge to them, much like inFAMOUS 2's Red Soundtrack. The difference is the horror feel of the game finds its way more into the themes in this soundtrack than ever before. I found myself wishing that many of these original songs were available for download, as they would make an excellent addition to the other inFAMOUS soundtracks I have. The mood-setting sounds don't end there as many new voices were recorded for Cole's enemies as well. Vampires can be heard hissing or taunting you, "newborn" being a favorite insult. When you stake them they sing a slightly different tune, some cursing you, others begging for mercy. Bloody Mary herself talks to you often as well; her voice is done by April Stewart and is strangely suited to a sinister vampire of distinguished disposition. Of course the voice actors for Cole and Zeke return from inFAMOUS 2 and both are fully voiced outside of UGC missions.
Originally Festival of Blood was announced as a DLC, when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only do you not need a copy of either inFAMOUS or inFAMOUS 2 to play Festival of Blood, but the game tells its own story as well. Many of the basic gameplay mechanics are hold overs from inFAMOUS 2, but there are as many new ones created specifically for Festival of Blood. You of course play as the electrifying, high flying hero Cole MacGrath. Early on your Amp is replaced with a cross-adorned stake which works the exact same way for melee attacks. You can even still unleash powerful melee moves with the "triangle" button as you charge the stake. As a conduit, your lightning bolt, electro grenades, shockwave (blast), thunder drop, megawatt hammer (rockets), static thrusters, and electric drain powers are available to you. These can be upgraded by completing certain requirements or side quests, but the ability to choose powers to equip is gone and you are limited to these. Instead you get access to a few new abilities from your newfound vampire powers. Vampire Sense, Shadow Swarm, and staking enemies are wholly new to this experience. Once upgraded, each of these gets a little better as well, such as flying as a swarm of bats into a vampire enemy will instantly kill them as you land with your stake in their chest. While they aren't many, these new vampire abilities will be the focal point of gameplay as you begin to acquire them. Players will no doubt have a blast using them too, as the flying takes a bit of getting used to at first but it quickly becomes an extremely fun method of travel.
Festival of Blood is a third-person open-world game that lets you tour the southernmost section of New Marais's swampland setting. In between missions that advance the story, there are plenty of things to do. Random vampire packs can be located via the minimap and thwarted from draining innocent victims dry. A little later on when you acquire Vampire Sense, glyphs only visible to vampire eyes can point the way to human harvesting sites, Bloody Mary's teachings, or canopic jars filled with blood that increase your capacity for blood storage. Tracking these down is not as hard as it sounds once you upgrade your Vampire Sense, and those seeking trophies will no doubt be glad for this as they hunt down all the jars and teachings.
Though you are limited to one section of New Marais, the catacombs open us to a new area to explore. You can even venture in them while no missions are active, though you will most likely get your fill of them in the several missions that do take you there. Thankfully all the charm of the city is still here with many of the wires and poles for Induction Grinds and Induction Launches are still accessible. Since travel has always been a key part to the inFAMOUS experience, Sucker Punch definitely kept the "city as your playground" feel from other games intact. The controls even feel as if they've been improved on a bit, allowing for tighter turning on static thrusters, easier ledge grabbing, and easier dropping off ledges.
Right off the bat (har har!) you are getting a decent 3-4 hours worth of gameplay in Festival of Blood. Not bad for a $10 PSN game. It doesn't end there however. Once completed, you are allowed to go back to midnight to hunt down any jars, teachings, or upgrades you may have missed the first time around for those collection based trophies. On top of that you get access to the UGC search function to be able to find and finish other player's original mission content. Players of inFAMOUS 2 will be familiar how this works. Those who aren't will be able to experience the nearly endless supply of additional content the UGC system can provide, and in time even make some of their own!
This game also comes with some very cool additions for owners of inFAMOUS 2. Festival of Blood allows access to a new comic panel creator for use with UGC in inFAMOUS 2. This allows you spice up any UGC in both games with better story presentation! The last carry over bonus into inFAMOUS 2 comes in the form of PlayStation Move support. I personally do not own a Move but from what I can gather the update allows inFAMOUS 2 players to use move for all of Cole's actions.
There is hardly anything to complain about with inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood because it delivers at every turn. With more than enough gameplay to extend easily past 6 hours, UGC and PlayStation Move additions to inFAMOUS 2, and just plain fun, Festival of Blood is a truly unique PSN title and well worth the $10 price tag. The fact that this title requires no previous knowledge from the series, or even any of the previous games to play, means no one should have an excuse for missing out on this game. In fact, I think more developers should employ the use of this unique DLC/stand alone game format. As quenching as Festival of Blood is, I still find myself yearning for more super hero antics from our pal Cole MacGrath. Make it happen, Sucker Punch!