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InFamous: Festival of Blood Review

Ah, Halloween. Tis the season to dress up and demand food from strangers, and threaten them with tricks if they don’t comply. It is also a time for many of our favorite properties to release Halloween-themed content. Pretty much every sitcom and most dramas have at one time or another had a Halloween episode, and with the rise of DLC releases, it makes sense that games would follow suit.

InFamous isn’t the first to do it, among others Red Dead Redemption’s “Undead Nightmare” was a standout, and there many others. But one thing that sets “Festival of Blood” apart is that while it is DLC (downloadable content), it is not technically an add-on. It can be downloaded and played without either the game or a previous saved-game file, which means that it could also be a demo of sorts for people interested in trying the game out, and want something more than a typical demo.

InFamous: Festival of Blood is a standalone story that begins when Zeke, the best friend of series protagonist Cole MacGrath, gets drunk and hits on a girl. She isn’t impressed by Zeke’s physical prowess (or lack thereof), or his advances, until he mentions that he is BFFs with Cole. Cole is somewhat famous, what with having the ability to shoot lighting from his hands and manipulate electricity — it tends to get one noticed.

So to keep the conversation going, Zeke begins to relate a story about Cole, set in the fictional New Orleans-ish city of New Marais. It begins on a dark and stormy night (naturally), when the city is celebrating Pyre Night — think Halloween with a touch of Mardi Gras. Basically, “Festival of Blood” is a B-movie set in the inFamous universe. Cole is bitten by a vamp queen named Bloody Mary, and has until dawn to track down a mystical vampire-be-dead weapon before she makes Cole her undead boy toy.

The story is short, and can be completed in around two hours, but there is more to do besides the missions. The DLC introduces a vast new catacombs area, offers collectable canopic jars spread around the city, features a handful of new enemies, introduces a few new powers and opens all of the South Island for you to play in. It also allows new user-created content, which gives the DLC a ton of life even after the story. The city is darker and moodier than ever, and it reeks of Halloween (in a good way), so it is worth exploring the moody and atmospheric city filled with party goers and vampires.

The $10 tag for two hours of story might scare off some, especially those that have already spent hours exploring New Marais, but while the campaign is short the amount of time you spend in the game could be considerable.

“Festival of Blood” adds to Cole’s normal electrical abilities with five new additions: A swarm ability, punch blast, shadow stake, vampire vision and the ability to drink human blood. It is nice to see additions to Cole, but not all of the abilities are as finely tuned as you may hope.

The first ability you receive is the swarm, which allows you to turn into a swarm of bats and travel long distances quickly. It is a good idea, but the controls are a bit off and you will more often than not end up hitting a wall. The shadow stake adds a lot to this, and when you are attacking vampires, you can use it to swarm them and stake them for a cool takedown. The punch blast is basically just a grenade, while the vampire vision is essentially Batman’s detective vision which is used to find secret areas and detect vampires hiding as humans. But the biggest addition to the series is the ability to drink blood — not because it fills up your vampire powers, but because it makes the morality system of the game void.

The previous inFamous titles placed a heavy emphasis on your morality. The powers developed based on that, as did the story. That is totally absent in this game. Since it is a standalone, that is fine — it won’t affect any previous choices or powers — but it is a somewhat jarring departure for a series so determined to make your actions matter. Still, that is a minor complaint.

Conclusion

“InFamous: Festival of Blood” is a solid Halloween offering to get you in the mood for the season. It is an episode set in the inFamous universe, so it can be downloaded and played quickly before you head out to offend people by dressing up as zombie Steve Jobs or whoever. The user-created content, plus all the additional stuff to see and do in the section of New Marais you have access to, make the cost worth it, plus the standalone nature means it could also become a demo of sorts for people curious about the full inFamous 2 experience. The powers and abilities won’t carry over to the full game, though.

The story is short — very short, and once the shine of Halloween wears off, it might not attract fans of the series who have already played the game and explored the city extensively. But for those looking for a bit of Halloween fun with a known and respected quantity, there are worse ways to spend $10.

 (This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 on a copy provided by Sony Computer Entertainment)

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