Warning: Contains spoilers for Infamous 2, if you haven’t finished it yet, finish it then read the article.
Comic Book History.
In the 1930s Comic books started to be released. Batman, Superman, Sherlock Holmes, and the detective comics to name a few were all successful. The reason for this is because everyone wanted to be the hero of the story. Whether it is Batman stopping crime or Superman saving the world, everyone looked up to them as heroes.
Because of the Success of these comics more started to be produced. In the 1960s there was a boom in how many new comic series were released so new superheroes such as Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, and the fantastic four came into the world. These heroes expanded the possibility of becoming heroes to more average day folks and created the first generation that started to try and think up ways to become heroes.
Comic Book Movies.
Of Course these comics naturally spawned movies to go along with them. Many of them put a real human face to the hero to make them more relatable and this lead to them being huge successes. The superman movies were successful, the Batman series and movie was successful although very campy, and all because people liked the more human touch they had. The Batman series is a prime example of how humor can attract an audience to superheroes.
In the 80s and 90s Batman movies started to happen more frequently, including Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Of which were hilarious in their awfulness, however, were immensely engaging and fun to watch. Even if Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Mister Freeze was weird, his awful puns were fun and you could enjoy the movie, if only for a small amount of time. Each movie gave their own adaptation of classic villains and the better that adaptation, the more relatable the heroes were.
Even in recent years there have been adaptations that have completely changed how we look at heroes. Some have actually made them better and more relatable such as Robert Downey Jr. portrayal of Iron Man. Others have changed the basis of the character such as Christopher Nolan’s batman being more of a fighter than a detective. Even more have just failed miserably in their interpretations and should never have been made (see: Daredevil, Catwoman).
Comic Book Games.
Even in the NES days there were attempts to make video games of comics, all were relative failures and did not attract a wide audience. This was because the games were shovel ware that were just made for fun, the games were just god awful, and because at the time video games were still something more kids played instead of the mainstream people.
In the Nintendo 64 days there was a superman game that was released to terrible reception. The game had no clear instructions, had terrible controls, no story, and was just all around god awful. There are many worst games list that list the Superman64 game as a complete catastrophe. After this there wouldn’t be another good superhero game until 2009.
That year there were two outstanding hero games; one put you in the shoes of Batman while battling against the villains of Arkham Asylum. The other was much different, instead of being a known superhero you were just an average bike messenger named Cole MacGrath who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to get powers because of it. He gained electricity powers and the game was about him dealing with those powers and the consequences of gaining them. This game was called InFamous.
So why was that a comic book game? The reasons were actually quite simple; the cutscenes took place in comic book form with a voice over in a very comic book fashion. More so, you could choose between good and evil, deciding to save the city or help destroy it. In response the citizens would treat you differently. In a way it was the first true adaptation of a comic book to game, even though the game came first.
Infamous was a huge success and because of this Sucker Punch immediately started on a sequel. Set in a new city and with a whole new possibly set of powers to acquire, it was massively better than the first game.
The game was fast paced, fun, stressful, and downright amazing. The only downside was that the comic book cutscenes were almost entirely ditched. The game followed soon after the original Infamous and with the ending to the game and Cole dying, no one knew how the story would continue, that is until last year.
Infamous is Famous.
With the release of Second Son right around the corner, we will finally get some answers to how the story could continue, but the question arises, why are the games successful? The Infamous games do something no other superhero game has been able to do well, be able to have a normal, usually uninteresting person gain superpowers. Because of this people have fallen in love with them. Sure the story is fantastic, the gameplay feels amazing, and they are a heck of a lot of fun, but that would be nothing if not for being able to act as if you just gained superpowers.
Being a superhuman is the dream of millions and the Infamous games allow us to live that dream. The Arkham games allow us to live the dream of being Batman. And while the prototype games tried to show how much destruction will be caused if someone suddenly gained powers, they were not successful in their representation. It was fun to run around the city, but nowhere near as fun as in Infamous. Whatever the continuation of the story may be, it promises to be just as shocking as the ray sphere.