- "Do I want them to love me ... or fear me?"
- — Cole MacGrath.
Karma is an integral part of the inFamous series, and heavily affects the overall game.
In inFamous, nearly every action and decision Cole makes affect him either positively or negatively. Depending on how drastic a decision is, the end-results can be minor or major. Cole's actions change his appearance, how his powers develop, the successive chain of events that happen within the story, how people and major characters react to his actions, and the very ending of the game.
- Main article: Good Karma
Cole is able to gain positive Karma by playing as a hero to the people of Empire City and New Marais. During this mental state, Cole is more calm and collected and is willing to openly sacrifice himself to situations that will benefit others but not himself. This reflects his powers; able to focus and take down single enemies more accurately, avoiding large, uncontrolled attacks that could hurt or kill innocent bystanders. Cole also remains the same during this mental state, appearing as the "symbol of help". Civilians also look up to Cole with awe, love, and respect, often cheering as he goes by.
- Main article: Evil Karma
Cole gains negative Karma by focusing mainly on self-benefit, caring less for others. During this mental state, Cole is ruthless and aggressive, which also reflects his powers; his attacks become more destructive and scattered. Cole's appearance is drastically changed during this state, his skin appearing a pale gray, and his track suit turned into black and gray. Dark markings that look like electric currents also appear on Cole's skin.
Gameplay and some restrictionsEdit
In addition to having a cosmetic affect on Cole and his powers, this determines the way his abilities will evolve. There are six upgrades for all the major abilities in the original inFamous game, three good and three evil, with each of the three levels unlocked by obtaining a certain rank. This means you cannot buy a basic upgrade unless your rank is Thug/Guardian or higher, and you cannot buy the ultimate upgrades unless you are at Infamous/Hero.
In inFamous there are 30 side-missions tied to the Karma system, 15 good and 15 evil. In completing set amounts of these missions, you can unlock new abilities tied to your Karma rating. Upon completing 5 missions with the same karmic alignment Cole will be granted a new power - either Overload Burst (good) or Arc Lightning (evil). Subsequent upgrades to these abilities are available upon completing a total of 10 and 15 missions. Each time you finish a Karma mission one Karma mission of the opposite side is locked out, so you can only ever complete 15 of the total 30 missions in one playthrough.
Note that both Karmic upgrades and powers require you to be at the rank they're unlocked for them to work.
A meter containing six sections (three for good, three for evil) acts as Cole's basis on what Karmic level he's on in inFamous. As Cole interacts with the world and makes good/evil choices, his Karma is tallied up on the meter, and depends on what act he's done. Depending on his actions, Cole's good/evil rank will go a rank higher, and will alter him depending on the action. The meter functions identically in inFamous 2, except that a seventh section is added in between Guardian and Thug, to represent Cole when he is at a Neutral state of Karma.
- Main article: Karmic Moments
There are several Karmic Moments that occur throughout the game, often presenting Cole with a choice between acting for Good or Evil. Cole is given a set amount of time to analyze the decisions and the results they will bring. Cole is then to decide what to do with the situation, and depending on his choice can either seek to help others or himself.
- The Karmanic Rank affects cutscenes as well. If Cole has Positive Karma, the lightning he uses in the comic cutscenes are blue. Likewise, the lightning he uses will be red if he has negative Karma.
- In inFamous, should Cole choose to activate the Ray Sphere a second time, the Karma meter would instantly shift to the rank of Infamous, regardless of his current rank.
- If Cole's rank was Thug or above before choosing to destroy the Ray Sphere, Cole's Evil Karma posters will have a red 'X' or '?' sprayed across them.
- In InFamous 2, Cole's shirt color doesn't change in the comic cutscenes until after "Storming the Fort."
- In early gameplay of inFamous and inFamous 2 there appeared to be a neutral rank.
- In inFamous 2, footage of the beta and specific trailer contained a neutral rank as well.
- In inFamous, early gameplay trailers shown attacks with yellow electricity, for example Cole draining a Reaper with yellow electricity.
- The Karma system isn't used in InFamous: Festival of Blood, as Karma is irrelevant to the story. Cole's lightning remains red when in his infected state.
- However the Karma meter does appear at the very beginning of the game, before Cole is bitten by Bloody Mary.
- In inFAMOUS 2, reaching a higher karma tier will trigger a short cutscene before the changes are made.
- In InFamous 2, Cole being in Good Karma, he appears to be extremely patient during cutscenes, while in Evil Karma he seems to be very impatient.