Infamous: Festival Of Blood review

Infamous: Festival Of Blood review

Infamous: Festival Of Blood review

It was, you suspect, one of the industry's quicker pitches. A copy of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, a calendar with the last day of October circled in red, a curt nod from across the table. Yet to dismiss Festival Of Blood as a straight copy of Rockstar's zombie-infested expansion would be disingenuous: it's equally happy pilfering from elsewhere. This is not the first game to borrow Batman: Arkham Asylum's detective mode, nor will it be the last, but drenching the screen in the same blueish hue is an obvious cue.

Neither is the broader superhero canon safe from Sucker Punch's magpieing. "My Vampire Sense is tingling" was doubtless written with tongue firmly in cheek, but pursed-lipped protagonist Cole MacGrath’s register is simply too monotonous to properly convey irony – unless he's actually been doing it for two games and we've only just noticed.

Where Sucker Punch does deviate from Undead Nightmare is by making Festival Of Blood a standalone game rather than an expansion requiring a copy of the original. That comes at a price – almost 4GB of disk space delivered at PSN speeds, so start your downloads on the 30th – but opens the game up to a wider audience and may fuel belated interest in Infamous 2. That game's user-generated content returns, its new features shown off through mandatory completion of two of the developer's own missions halfway through a campaign that would otherwise last a couple of hours at most. When it's all over, the clock is rewound so you can mop up the game's new set of collectibles – canopic blood jars, which also refill and lengthen your blood meter – and fiddle with the UGC.

Said campaign redresses the southern island of Infamous 2's New Marais for its annual, Dia de los Muertos-riffing Pyre Night festival, an excuse for its inhabitants to don glowsticks and dance identically to jazz, for vampires to rise up on the sly and for one of their number, Mary, to infect Cole, giving him until daybreak to kill her to save himself. Her backstory is told through a set of audiologs which reveal that, astoundingly, this evil creature who feeds on the blood of the living has killed quite a lot of people and seems more or less okay about it.

On top of his electricity mains supply, Cole also needs human blood to survive, which means throwing the series' trademark morality system out of the window inside ten minutes. One bite refills a meter which you'll need for Shadow Swarm, a firstperson flight mode activated with the D-pad and controlled with the right stick which renders your other traversal abilities largely moot. This, in turn, makes the autocorrecting of jumps and stickiness to surfaces, rails and bollards a hindrance rather than a help as before.

This is Festival Of Blood's principal change to the Infamous formula. Cole flies at speed, and the colony of bats bordering your view affords a genuine sense of vampiric transformation. Zipping from one familiar rooftop to another feels like playing the original with cheats on – much as you imagine a real vampire might feel as it tears around old stomping grounds, testing new abilities.

Festival Of Blood has plenty of ideas, very few of which are its own, but such is the way of the open-world superhero game. Where it succeeds is in casting aside the main game’s mechanics in favour of fast, graceful movement around one of the most generous worlds available on the download services. Familiar enough for fans, and sufficiently different for sceptics, perhaps Sucker Punch had more in mind than a bite-sized cash-in all along.