Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: Although blood effects are negligible (enemies don't shed it), violence is fantastical, not brutal, and you do have the choice to be the hero; there's a moderate amount of language, and suggestive themes (mostly due in part to overly sensuous villain, Sasha); the story and gameplay can, at times, be chaotic and intense; there are a few tough moral dilemmas; you can choose to be evil; and like all open-world games, it can be a bit addictive, and in turn (while not extreme), has a considerable time investment—it's just more suited to the mid-teens. So, I recommend this game for ages 14+.

Blood: The blood effects spurt in tiny, nearly negligible amounts when main character, Cole, and nearby civilians are shot by enemy weapons. Blood will also slowly gather and splatter in a stylized form around the edges of the screen indicating when Cole is low on health. But, as Cole solely uses electric powers, beyond enemies (the Reapers) exhaling clouds of black goo (toxin that turned them into their present form), enemies themselves shed no blood. Bodies do linger, and you see many dead and/or injured enemy and civilian bodies lying—completely unbloodied—about the city. Also, a few of the partially animated, comic book-style cutscenes (pictured here: roll-over) contain a moderate amount of stylistic, ink blot-like blood splatter, which often peppers panels during frame transitions, and in a few scenes, spurts from civilians as enemies shoot and/or hit them. However, the scenes in question are very brief, and as their style is more abstract, actual detail is quite vague; none of them ever reach an overly graphic or gratuitous level. There is no option to turn blood off.

Specific scenes of blood:

  • After Cole slowly comes to from the giant electrical explosion, his face appears bloodied and scorched, with his clothes ripped, torn and moderately bloodied.
  • In a comic book-style cutscene, Cole explains how he heard "Thousands crushed by burning buildings or burned alive in the fires," as you see a shot of terrified civilians frozen in place and hear their screams, while debris falls around them, a brief flash of stylized blood splattering over the screen. It switches to a panel of a grimacing man, mouth agape (stylized blood splatter in the backdrop), as Cole narrates, "A plague struck. Followed by rioting. Theft. Rapes. Civilization committed suicide." It proceeds to show rough-looking criminals with knives, guns and Molotov cocktails; a few brief stills depicting these men as they rough up civilians in the chaos; a man shooting a gun as more stylized blood splatters in the backdrop; and an empty police's hat with a single, bloodied bullet hole.
  • In a comic book-style cutscene, you get your first look at the Reapers, former druggies, now mindless monsters dawning red hoods to conceal their deformed faces; it shows brief stills as they shoot into the crowd (while you hear people's screams) and hit one—with moderate, stylized blood splatter—as stylized blood splatters into the panel's backdrop. It switches to a Reaper holding a civilian at gunpoint, who's lying in a pool of stylized blood, and another as a Reaper hits a civilian in the face, causing more stylized blood to spurt from the man's mouth.
  • A comic book-style cutscene shows as Cole and a group of civilians reach the end of a quarantined bridge, which is blocked by a wall of razor-edged fencing and high-powered turrets; you then see a few brief stills of civilians being shot down with the turrets, causing mild, stylized blood splatter and their screams.
  • Kessler shows Cole an even bleaker vision of the future, with a brief, abstract shot of people impaled on poles, and a quick, unclear and abstract shot of what appears to be a raven eating at a human eye (crunchy sound effects included).
  • While you fight a boss later in—the Reaper leader, Sasha—she rambles random gibberish about what seems to be a relationship gone sour, as she states, "Why do you love her! I'll kill her, I swear it! I'll wear her skin like a robe!" and later goes on to say, "I made soup from the neighbors bones, you wanna taste?!"
  • After defeating Sasha, you see (in a comic book-style cutscene) her lying on her stomach, with a light amount of the dark, gooey poison leaking from her body.
  • In a comic book-style cutscene, as he enters a prison cell meant to keep a main villain imprisoned, Cole finds "The place was slick with gore"; you see a brief, wide-shot still, showing four dead guards lying in contorted positions (one has a barb impaled through his back), with their stylized blood splattered and pooled heavily about the room. It then switches to a brief, split-screen panel of all but one of the men, showing some light, stylized blood and their grimacing faces.
  • A Dead Drop message details Kessler's experiments on a chimpanzee; you hear as his assistant activates the Ray Sphere (a device that gave Cole powers), and turns it up as Kessler states, "Subject is now in obvious pain and is bleeding from the nose and ears." He turns it up again, killing it as he says in frustration, "Well that didn't work as I expected, get someone in here to clean that up."
  • There's light, stylized blood around a main character's mouth as they slowly die.
  • Kessler has some light, stylized blood around his mouth after you defeat him.

Drug reference: A brief, comic book-style cutscene has Cole explain the origins of the Reapers, as he narrates, "Before the blast, they where just a bunch of junkies dealing drugs." Also present is a thick, black, drug-like toxic sludge that is creating a plague, and ultimately turning the city's unwilling inhabitants into Reapers.

Language: There are (including the Dead Drop audio messages) over five dozen uses of hell, over four (almost five) dozen uses of d*mn, a dozen uses of bastard, under a dozen uses of God, p*ss, sh*t and a**, three uses of b*tch, one use of a**hole, SoB, and pr*ck, several non-sexual uses of screw (including one use of "screw the pooch"), and referring to a lack of powers, your friend states, "That sucks donkey balls!" Other than the main script, civilians will infrequently say, "Yeah, kick their a**es!" (as you fight enemies), "How the hell?!" (in disbelief of Cole's power), and the more hostile will call Cole a "Selfish bastard!" There is no option to turn language off.

Mild crude humor: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it is mild) Near the very beginning, as Cole and his friend Zeke run through the streets to their first objective, you overhear them "reminisce"; Zeke starts with, "Hey, remember that time we where comin' home from Duffy's, and I had to take a leak? And that bike cop was yelling at me to put up my hands (laughter)? Cole replies, (suppressed laughter in his tone), "You p*ssed all over him." Zeke then states "He told me to put up my hands (laughter)! And after Cole tracks down a man's killer and tells Zeke the killer looked like a "man-dog," Zeke says, "Dwight was killed by a dog? D*mn! had a cousin that went the same way. Whew, shouldn't have had an open casket, but ole smitty wanted one. People where passing out, puking, you name it, it was horrible."

Mild suggestive themes:

  • In a comic book-style cutscene, Cole narrates that "Civilization is committing suicide," and other than thefts and riots, there's also (only reference to) "rapes."
  • Zeke's rooftop pad has a poster behind his tv which gives an undetailed view of a country girl in short shorts and a small, fitted tied top, revealing her midriff.
  • After you find the source of the black toxic sludge, and are exposed to it when you unclog a rigged fountain poisoning the city, you start to have hallucinations and hear a sensuous female voice (she'd make the phonebook sound like a slut novel) in your mind; she—Sasha, leader of the Reaper—flirts with you in an obvious manner, saying things like, "I've been waiting for you, longing for you!"
  • When you finally come face to face with Sasha, you find her to be a well-bodied, but mutated and bizarre looking woman/creature. Roll-over here for an idea on her appearance; the above concept art and actual in-game character model do differ slightly, as the latter has a less pronounced, more covered lower half.
  • As you fight Sasha—in a boss battle later in—and try to pull the plugs from her shoulders and torso—which hold in the black, gooey toxin—she sticks her black and split, tentacle-like tongue towards your mouth, saying, "Yes, yes! I love it!" and eventually babbles about an apparent former love, "Remember the weekend in Maine? We stayed in bed the entire time, and oh how you whispered to me."
  • After you rescue your girlfriend from an enemy, Sasha speaks into your mind, "She's not a lover like me. Think of the things I could do to you. I am pleasure!"
  • Some women will infrequently call out things like, "I want your baby!", "Looking for a good time?" and "Like what you see, Babe?" as you navigate the streets.
  • Later in, Zeke calls up and asks if you'll look into the abduction of a girl's (who he's hoping to make his girlfriend) brother. Cole responds with, "And you think if I find Dwight, she'll "reward" you? Zeke later calls in and states, "Dwight's sister is hot and ready to go, if you know what I mean." However, you soon find out that the girl in question turns Zeke down, saying she only wants to be "friends."
  • As you fight Kessler in the final showdown, Sasha eventually speaks into your mind, "The thought of you electrocuting him excites me, really excites me!"

Violence: It's just another routine delivery, as Cole, a courier, travels to his intended destination. However, the carried package suddenly detonates, setting off an electrical explosion and decimating the city with its shock wave. Cole awakes, his clothes torn and bloodied, a flaming crater surrounds his body. As he evacuates the area, passing a broken panel, it electrocutes him; but instead of dying, his body absorbs it, and with the help of his best friend, Zeke, and girlfriend, Trish, he begins to master his powers. Things get more difficult however, when he discovers that the device that imbued him with his powers, the Ray Sphere, isn't one of a kind; another Ray Sphere is missing, and with the help of a CIA agent named Moyia, Cole will need to track it down in order to keep it safe from the enemy, all the while dealing with a now estranged Trish, who blames him for her sister's death; an unstable best friend; the plague turning people into monsters dubbed Reapers; and the mysterious villain behind it all: Kessler. The people think you're a terrorist who bombed their city—you can prove them wrong, or enforce this perception; you can be a hero, or you can be inFAMOUS...

After you come to, make your way through the ruins of the blast site, cross a bridge into the city as your unbeknownst power shoots lightning bolts from the sky, you'll run from what you think are terrorists, and then black out. It flashes forward to a couple of weeks later, where Cole's gained some control over his powers; you'll get trained in the basic controls, complete your first objective, make your first moral choice, and set out to explore the open-world city. And the base gameplay consists of navigating the city with Cole's lithe platforming skills (climb anything you see; windowsills, building protrusions, lampposts, anything), as you jump gaps (hover over with a later power), scale buildings, climb poles and ladders, shimmy on ledges, and cross (later in, grind on) power lines draped between buildings or train rails to continue on, while you use your varied electrical powers to fight enemies (netting you exp. for power upgrades) and recharge drained objects to open doors and activate objects; use your GPS map's sonar to highlight nearby electrical objects (power outlets, lamp posts, cars, etc.), in order to refill power slots; and take cover to replenish health...

You'll then enter the sewers, repower each district's power-grid (Cole can't survive in blacked-out areas of the city), gain a new ability in the process, and then move onto the next main quest (save a train by riding on top, taking out all enemies in your way and recharging power boxes to continue on; clear out the toxin creating the plague by turning valves or destroying enemy trucks and pumps attached to the water system; stop onslaughting enemies from breaking a main villain out of prison, as they catapult destructive debris over the walls, etc.), or complete side-quests (save hostages; tail enemy couriers; checkpoint race; disable enemy surveillance; use enemies' residual brain waves to trail them or find packages; perform specific tasks for a photographer while he shoots; clear out enemy occupied clinics and train stations, etc.)—as you do this, that area of the city will be cleared (by a gradual percentage) of enemy control; after a clinic is cleared, it will act as a respawn point if you die (the more you clear, the more you have access to); and after the rails are cleared, you'll be able to hop a ride on a train at any time for faster travel around that district.

You're enemy is, at first (each district has its own enemies), the Reapers (red-hooded grunts armed with guns and rocket launchers, the yellow-hooded "Mad-bombers," that rush at you in kamikaze attempts, and large, white-hooded Conduit mini-bosses that teleport about, attacking with mental power), the Dust men (trash bag garbed grunts; large, Conduit mini-bosses with packs that spout scrap metal scorpion-like creatures held together by yellow glowing energy; and giant "golem" Conduit mini-bosses made of the same stuff, which are armed with gattling-guns and toss heaps of scrap metal), the First Sons (trench coat, gas mask garbed grunts with tanks on their backs; large, cloaked Conduits with shotguns, using mental energy to project and control giant-sized versions of themselves from inside), First Sons' cloaked, hovering drones armed with grenade launchers, and (if you're evil) the city's police—you will be fighting them with your varied electrical powers, and in turn, the environment.

The combat system is moderately chaotic, and consists of you using Lightning Bolt to shoot balls of electricity out of your hands like a gun, flinging the enemy or civilians, cars and objects left/right, setting fire to explodables, and causing all to fly in every direction; Shockwave to project waves of electrical energy and send enemies into the air; Overload Burst (good), a charged lightning attack for groups of enemies, or Arc Lightning (bad) to eject a constant stream of lightning Star Wars-style; electric Shock Grenade(s) that stick to enemies and then detonate, damaging all nearby; Megawatt Hammer to eject electrified missiles; Thunder Drop to jump from buildings and pound the ground, spreading a wave of electric energy, stunning and/or killing those nearby; Precision to zoom in on and snipe the enemy, as time slows around you; a variety of melee moves to attack in close quarters; propane tanks and cars to destroy anything in the vicinity; you'll step in puddles or shoot into the water to electrocute those in it; and near the end, use Lightning Storm to summon giant bolts from the sky that drag across the ground and leave utter destruction in their wake.

When electrocuted with Cole's varied powers, enemies will shake and contort in place, then often fly as they howl, grunt, fall to the ground in awkward positions and either die, or, if injured, writhe weakly on the floor—but as the mutated (fully hooded, face concealed) enemies don't resemble or behave at all like humans, and for the fact that (other than literal junk flying off later Dust Men) combat is virtually bloodless, it isn't too impacting. Add the enemy's inhuman nature with semi-destructable environments (metal objects shake and surge with electricity when hit with his powers, spreading to nearby enemies; detonated objects, like cars, propane tanks, even gas stations, will mushroom in explosions; enemy bullets shoot through glass and wood, shatter lights, crumble cement, fling doors off cars, etc.) and the city's ruined appearance (burnt-out cars litter torn-up and piled pavement that makes up the streets; smoke rises from the dilapidated buildings; bridges are broken and crumbling, rubble everywhere—each of the city's districts is more ruined than the last), and it gives a sense of devastation and an unpredictable hostility to an already bleak atmosphere.

While you navigate the city, enemies attack abruptly and from all directions, shooting from rooftops on every side and charging from allies, as grunts (sometimes equipped with full electricity-impervious swat shields) barrage (later snipe) you with accurate gunfire, grenades and deadly rocket launchers (often point-blank); Mad Bombers howl while they rush at you in kamikaze attempts; white-hooded Conduit Reapers use their powers to teleport left and right, sending shock waves that tear through pavement to hone in on your position; and enemies will often pull up in Mack trucks, with shielded, swiveling turrets mounted in back—all frequently happens simultaneously. And since you aren't an invincible superhero, just a resilient one, the screen will begin to darken and go red at the edges as you take damage, while the sound muffles and you hear Cole's increasing heartbeat. Your cover (concrete blocks, crates, etc.) also eventually crumbles and breaks under enemy fire, meaning you'll have to stay on your toes and think quickly to survive—you're never fully "safe."

Cole will have to make moral choices throughout, and each decision effects the Karma meter in the top left of the screen; right from the start, you can kill or injure anyone on the street and blow up any car, still or moving. As you fight enemies and choose to either refrain from needless damage, or embrace it, you'll earn experience for power upgrades (blue=good, red=evil, grey=neutral) and gradually fill the upper blue (good) meter or the lower red (evil) meter depending on your actions. And after you gain the power to interact with downed civilians, you'll have the choice to cure the injured with Pulse Heal (like a human defibrillator), trap them with Arc Restraint (electricity cuffs that pin them to the ground), or Bio Leech to overcome their struggles and suck them of their electric energy, killing them in the process. Devoid Pulse Heal, you can use the same powers on enemies, earning good (exp.) for restraining them, evil (exp.) for leeching them, and neutral (exp.) for killing them while they're down. However, you'll continually have to make the right choice in order to stay good (or visa versa), as you can slowly but surely switch to and from both moral sides.

As you start to gain fame, civilians begin to hang posters with your likeness, call out your name in the streets, run and point you to enemies and injured people, and snap pictures of you in the street. And depending on your moral orientation, you'll be able to access different power branches, with good being more precise and contained, and evil powers being more destructive, ultimately creating more indiscriminate collateral damage. You can use these powers to make civilians' already bleak lives (they walk about with protective masks on their mouths, as they dig in dumpsters or fall to their knees, overwhelmed with emotion while cradling their heads in their hands) worse by tearing through the streets as you knock them down, dash past the injured, and kill them needlessly, which will soon cause them to run in fear, call out threats and even go so far as to form small mobs, as they then punch and stone you in the streets. Or, you can revive the injured, save those being attacked and assist police in taking out enemies—this will make them more liking of you, as they call your name, pelt rocks at the enemy as you fight, and then gather and clap in thanks.

As you do more good, you'll look clean and almost glow with a blue aura; if evil, you will appear grungier, emanating a red aura, as your skin grows ashen pale, with dark, veiny pigmentations running all over your face and head. Your moral standing will also open respective side-quests; in the good, you'll escort police; clear out and transport enemies to prison; retrieve medical supplies; protect civilians protesting Reapers, etc. And in evil quests (which, along with the main quest, are ultimately easier—it's easy to destroy but hard to maintain), you'll destroy everything in sight in order to lure out rival gangs or cops; expose civilians to the plague and use them to fight off enemies; break Reapers out of prison; kill groups of civilians protesting you in the streets, etc. The story is affected, but only lightly, and if you choose to be evil, you won't get the girl back; once you have the Ray Sphere in your grasp, you can choose to unleash its power, killing thousands, and gain the powerful "Black Lightning" in the process; and after the end credits—depending on your moral standing—it will either depict you as protecting the city in peace, or ruling it in fear—your choice.

Moral dilemmas:

  • First dilemma: Your first objective is to scale a structure in the middle of a park and cut down a balloon drop shipment of emergency food crates; once you do, civilians will start to gather and scrounge. Do you kill a few in the crowd to send a clear message—leaving all the crates to you, your friend and girlfriend—or do you let them scavenge what they will and hope you'll find enough in what's left?
  • Second dilemma: As you try to pass through the city's quarantine guarded by a group of riot cops, you find a crowd of civilians with the same idea. Do you fire at the cops while in the crowd, creating confusion and ultimately allowing you to get by more easily as civilians take the fall for you—and injuring many of them in the process—or do you run past them and take on the riot police yourself?
  • Third dilemma: As you track down a man in the city, you find a young woman's body instead—a victim of a Reaper attack. You follow the man's trail—hoping to find info—which leads you into the sewers. You come upon a locked gate with the man standing behind it—he says he won't open it until his wife is safe. You can tell him the truth and hope he opens it, or just kill him and open it anyway.
  • Fourth dilemma: You come across a cop who asks you to heal his fellow injured cops—after their skirmish with Reapers—in exchange for Blast Shards (which upgrade power capacity). You can help him, or kill him and steal them instead.
  • Fifth dilemma: As you clear the black toxic sludge creating the plague, it gets in your eyes, and you find it to have very unpleasant side effects. When you come across the last valve you need to unclog, you can open it yourself and deal with the temporary pain, or force a nearby civilian to turn it for you—by hitting him with a few lightning bolts—which will cause this civilian to permanently catch it.
  • Sixth dilemma: Police ask for you to defuse a bomb set on their station's door. Once you reach it, you find it to be on a short fuse; you can try to defuse it, or run away and let it detonate, causing the deaths of every civilian in that area.
  • Seventh dilemma: Several small water towers on the rooftops of the city have devices attached to their sides, which are pumping the poison—and creating the plague—into the civilians' water supply. You can destroy them by blowing them up and untainting the water supply, but you will suffer the same side-effects as before, and temporarily lose use of your power slots. Or, you can overload the circuit, ruining the pumps; it will save you from all side-effects, but it will also dump the remainder of the poison into the water system, permanently poisoning their water supply—you'll repeat this, and you can choose differently each time.
  • Eighth dilemma: A woman approaches and asks you to save her brother from the Reapers in exchange for Blast Shards. You can save him, or run straight to her locker, steal the Blast Shards and run away—causing her brother's death.
  • Ninth dilemma: You come across a man who's drawing posters of Cole. He says he's going to place these posters all over the city, in order to give the citizens a better idea on how you want to be represented. One poster has a bright, blue color scheme, depicting "Good," and the other has a negative, dark red scheme, depicting "Evil"—your choice will ultimately effect the civilians' reactions to you.
  • Tenth dilemma: You approach a group of civilians that have strung a man from his feet by a lamppost for stealing food. You can shoot him down, or leave him to an angry mob—the decision is recurring; you'll come across this infrequently.
  • Eleventh dilemma: A giant, scrap metal, Dust-Man Conduit destroys a helicopter and then throws its gas tank at you. Time freezes as you're given the decision to let it hit you, which will damage and leave you at a disadvantage, but it won't kill you. Or, you can shoot it before the Conduit has a chance to throw it, saving you damage and giving you the edge—but it will kill the injured civilians nearby.
  • Twelfth dilemma: After you escort a civilian to his locker, he gives you a single Blast Shard as thanks. You can then walk away, or kill him and take them all.
  • Thirteenth dilemma: You find a civilian lying injured near his locker after trying to defend it from the Reapers. You can take his things and then leave him still injured, or heal him and leave his things—he'll give them to you if he is healed.
  • Fourteenth dilemma: Kessler has strung your girlfriend, Trish, on the top of one building, and five doctors on another. Both buildings have bombs rigged to their rooftops. You don't have time to save both; do you save the one or the many?
  • Fifteenth dilemma: You have finally found the Ray Sphere; will you activate it, possibly doubling your powers, but killing ten thousand innocent civilians in the process, or will you destroy it for good and spare them?

The cutscenes show things along the lines of enemies shooting down civilians in a few of the comic book-style cutscenes, with still views of explosions, gunfights (etc.), and there's a couple relatively tragic character deaths. When it comes to what age this is appropriate for, although the blood effects are negligible (enemies don't shed it), the violence is fantastical, not brutal, and you do have the choice to be the hero; there's a moderate amount of language, and suggestive themes (which is mostly due in part to overly sensuous villain, Sasha); the story and gameplay can, at times, be chaotic and intense; there are several tough moral dilemmas; you can choose to be evil; and like all open-world games, it can be a bit addictive, and in turn (while not extreme), has a considerable time investment—it's just more suited to the mid-teens.

Content review posted: 06/16/09

Bookmark and Share

© 2008-2010 All Rights Reserved. No part of this work, reviews or custom images, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted by the 1976 Copyright Act or in writing from the author, pertaining to the entire site, Requests for permission should be addressed in writing to Lindenville Publishing via the About page. The ESRB rating icons are registered trademarks of the Entertainment Software Association. All the original images are copyrighted by their respective owners.