For some reason Sony’s locked the inFamous demo out from the public till later on in the month, though gamers who preorder the PS3 exclusive will get a code to download it now. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because it’s a fantastic demo that would help people make up their minds on if they should buy it or wait for Prototype. It’s also a gigantic demo, the kind you’ll play over and over again to try new tactics and powers, and it gives you a  great mix of missions. To put it bluntly, if you’re at all interested in inFamous you should absolutely preorder it.

As you probably already know, electricity is a huge part of this game. The main character has electrical super powers from an accident that killed tons of people in the city he lives in, and due to all the craziness going on the city’s been locked out from the rest of the world Escape From NY-style and left on its own. It’s your job to either be the hero or the villain, using your new powers as you see fit.

Since all your powers are based on electricity, to keep them flowing you’ll have to constantly hunt for a power source. Any time you use one of your stronger attacks (like an electric grenade attack, or an electric shockwave) it takes away a small chunk of your electricity. You can see nearby power sources by hitting L3 and suck energy from them by hitting L2. This sounds a lot more irritating than it is- it’s actually a pretty fun gameplay mechanic and leads to some interesting moments during battles. In the demo you have a power unlocked that lets you suck electricity from power cables by sliding on it. It looks pretty awesome.

While you can use a melee attack, for the most part you’ll be using your lightning bolt that can be shot by aiming with L1 and hitting R1. Each electrical power has a Good and Evil side to it that can be purchased, three for each power. For example- if you’re Good the Lightning Bolt power when fully leveled up can restore energy to you when it hits, plus if you get a headshot it will restore your health. Evil folks will trigger an electric explosion that will consume all nearby enemies. Alright, so they’re not terribly different (Good powers are blue! Evil powers are red!) but it’ll hopefully be enough to encourage multiple playthroughs. The powers you have in the demo all come purchased and leveled up already.
The first mission, The Rescue, has you bringing a subway train full of prisoners to a safe location. The train isn’t running but since you’re made out of electricity you power the train yourself just by standing on the front car. But your dastardly enemies have knocked out a few electrical boxes on the bottom side of the elevated line so every once in a while you’ll have to jump down and re-energize portions of the track while fighting them off.

Your foes here called Reapers, hooded and almost feral humans who have all sorts of weapons and powers. The majority of them can be taken out with a simple lightning bolt but a few of them take a bit more to kill. You gain XP for killing them- more if you do it in creative ways, like smashing them with an object, or knocking them off a building. Chain them together and you get a whole bunch. They can kill you fairly easily, but like most games the screen will go red and allow you to hide till your regenerate, or you can simply leech electricity from a power source to heal yourself.

Even dying isn’t so bad, though because of one thing that most of you will love- midmission checkpoints! If you die in this game you’ll never be that far off from where you were. It’s handled pretty well.

After beating that mission you’ll finally be allowed to explore the world a bit. There’s a bit of a floaty feel to it that takes some getting used to. Your character moves really easily around the environment, and can climb buildings and poles with ease. Rooftops are the preferred method of travel, and it’s helped by the power that lets him glide (R1). The animation as he clings to the side of buildings is pretty great… he feels almost like if Spider-man was into free-running. The city’s pretty well realized as well, although there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of interaction.

The next quest I tried was a side mission where you are trying to protect medical supplies from an all-out onslaught of reapers. This one is pretty tricky, especially once they start driving flatbed trucks with shielded machineguns on the back. Liberal use of the grenades will take them out quick- you have to make sure the crate you’re protecting doesn’t get destroyed, and also that you have enough elecrticity to continue using your strongest attacks. Thankfully there are a lot of light poles nearby, and you can also leech it from the trucks when they come in.

Afert that was another side quest, “Dark Water”, which is about as simple as you can get. You’ve got to clear off a group of reapers that are on a rooftop, poisoning a building’s water supply. Take them out and blow up the “tar” device and you’re good to go.

The final mission, Mobile Poison, has you trying to take out a heavily armored reaper truck that’s rampaging through the city. Use your most powerful attacks here and you’ll take it out in no time.  It’s  a short and satisfying mission.

While there were some nagging issues with the demo (a couple of weird animations, your character occasionally getting stuck in an action, etc.) it’s nothing that hopefully hasn’t been worked out, and it definitely will push inFamous to the top of your list. If you don’t want to preorder the game you can check the demo out for yourself when it hits on the 21st of May.

Some things to try!

- Check out what movie’s playing at the movie theater under the EL. Sly Cooper 4! Nice.

- Hold down on the d-pad to start up a lightning storm, then move around your sixaxis to control its path. So much glorious destruction.

- If you want to be good, heal downed people and by going over to them and pressing Triangle after locked on with R1. If you want to be evil, suck the rest of their life away by tapping square. If you want to laugh, use arc restraint, which gives them electric locks on their arms and legs and sticks them to the ground.

- On that note, keep an eye on your Karma system that’s on the top left of the screen. Each mission prestarts you as Good or Evil and you can see how the powers work differently, and also how your character’s look changes.

- Note how performing side missions takes back territory from the gangs. That’s going to be a big portion of the final game.

- Cars work as some of the best weapons in the game. Use your shockwave ability to throw them at enemies! Don’t forget that you can leech electricity from them as well.