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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Infamous

This city is your playground. You’ve just scaled a 20-storey building, grabbing onto any available ledge and skipping up the wall with ease. The urban jungle’s wildlife roams beneath you, completely unaware of the watchful figure above that’s effortlessly gliding from one rooftop to another. There’s trouble at the other end of town and the fastest way to get there is a breezy grind along the tram tracks. The wind catches your hair as you speed onwards. A firefight has spilled out into the streets; you leap off of the tracks and up into the air. You shoot down and hit the ground with an electric explosion, throwing nearby enemies and cars backwards. Anyone that’s still stupid enough to face you is dealt with by an outstretched arm and a jolt of lightning.

Infamous_1The Infamous series is a sandbox of toys just begging to be played with in virtual reality (VR). Developer Sucker Punch created two energetic action games on PlayStation 3 that would be a sheer joy to tackle with an Oculus Rift headset, and the enhancements that the power of the PlayStation 4 bring to Infamous: Second Son makes the idea all the more enticing.

The series’ method of traversal is a good place to start. Both the original’s Cole MacGrath and Infamous: Second Son’s Delsin Rowe are pretty handy at parkour.  They’re able to clamber up just about any vertical surface provided they can grab hold of something. Imagine looking at any wall in a first-person perspective and being able to suss out a route to the top. Then it’s simply a case of hopping from hold to hold with ease, with Oculus Rift’s depth perception emphasising the heights you’re climbing to as you go.

Then there’s Cole’s ability to race along power lines and railways at incredible speeds, something that would be a thrill to experience in VR. Using the head tracking to scan all around you as shoot through an environment might actually trick us into thinking we really did have superpowers for a moment. That is until we throw our arms up to protect ourselves from the incoming train that we’re about to meet head-on.

InfamousSecondSon_1

Action would also translate with ease. Infamous starts out like a shooter, allowing you to fire bursts of electricity from the palms of your hands. It’s not hard to imagine how powerful this could make you feel in VR, especially when armed with motion controllers that act as a natural extension of your body. As the Cole and Delsin grow more powerful they pick up more incredible abilities. Being able to call down a thunderstorm just meters away from your face or pulling up an electrical shield to guard you from a barrage of bullets would feel natural. You’d be able to look around your environment and assess what power to use and how.

Infamous: Second Son also boasts impressive destructibility, allowing you to tear down outposts and gates. VR could be used to pinpoint a structure’s weak spot and then bring it crashing down in front of you, the rubble scraping past your face and giving off a whole new feeling of power. It would also be great to see Sucker Punch’s rendition of Seattle, the setting of the latest title, brought to life in VR. Standing on top of the iconic Space Needle and looking out across the city is something we’d love to see with a headset.

When imaging most franchises in VR we tend to think about immersion and bringing moments to life. But the Infamous series is something else, a playful little treat that excels at empowering players with ridiculous powers and accessible transport. VR could enhance that sense of empowerment by tenfold, making you feel like you really are the one with the power in your hands. Let’s hope Sony’s RUMOURED PS4 headset makes this a reality next time around.

‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets.