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:
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:
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.
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.
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