InFAMOUS 2 Review

Posted on June 25, 2011 by

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There’s something about wide open sandbox games. I tend to keep them long after i’ve sold or traded in older but more linear games. I always feel an attachment to the sandbox. If I were to list any of my favourite games, a large chunk of that list would include them- Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Red Dead Redemption, Spider-man: Web of Shadows, Bully, Prototype, and, of course, Infamous.

Those last two, Infamous and Prototype, both came out at the same time, and featured similar premises- wide open sandbox gameplay with superpowers. Prototype was available on both Xbox and PS3, while Infamous was a PS3 exclusive. Prototype was good, excellent, in fact- a spiritual successor to Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (mostly due to being made by the same people), but wasn’t perfect. Infamous was. It was pitch-perfect to the tune of being one of the Playstation 3’s strongest titles. Infamous is what’s known in the business as a Console-seller, because people will go out and buy the console so they can play it, along with other games like Metal Gear, Halo, Gears of War or Ratchet and Clank- big, console exclusive titles. If you want to know my thoughts on the original Infamous, go here. I’m here today to talk about Infamous 2.

Many people complained about Cole MacGrath, protagonist of the Infamous series. They said he looked like a stereotypical tough guy, with his cropped hair, and his gruff voice. Sucker Punch took that to heart, and redesigned Cole from the ground up for Infamous 2. Then the fans saw it, and revolted. So Sucker Punch changed him back, more or less. Cole still has a new voice actor though. He’s less gruff than the last guy, who sounded like he was on 60 cigarettes a day, and he’s able to put more inflection, emotion and character into his voice acting. Which I think is a great improvement.

I didn’t think that when I started playing. Oh no. I still play Infamous 1 a lot, up to the day before I picked up Infamous 2, and the change was quite jarring. I would even go so far as to say that in the first few hours, I hated Infamous 2. Things were different, and I didn’t like different. I wasn’t happy about embracing change, not when I thought the first game was already perfect. I just wanted more of the same. And then, slowly, my fanboy firewall was doused by the waters of truth. Infamous 2 has improved upon Infamous 1 in every way imaginable.

The gameplay is tighter, more concise. Cole feels more powerful despite losing a lot of his powers at the start of the game (He keeps a ton, though, he basically just loses his most powerful, game-breaking abilities like Lightning Storm and Thunder Hammer), his new abilities are awesome and always fun to play with, this time changing more drastically depending on your morality- passive abilities, such as group heal for a heroic Cole, allows you to heal whole groups of civilians at once, instead of one-by-one, saving time and looking cool. Bio-Leech overload, for the evil Cole means that when you Bio-leech electricity out of a person, you briefly get unlimited energy. Then, about halfway through, Cole gains a distinct set of secondary powers, again, depending on your morality. There is a point where you can choose to gain new powers from either the goody-two-shoes NSA Agent Kuo, which grants you Ice powers (and believe me, the Ice Launch ability is the best power in the whole game, it sends you flying up through the air, cutting down travel time massively) or with the hedonistic, sociopathic Nix, a swamp girl with fire powers. Obviously, good Cole’s powers tend more towards crowd control (and one of his passive abilities makes it so that his powers don’t hurt civilians) while Evil Cole is more about destruction on a mass scale.

The movement is similarly improved, Cole parkours his way about the city smoothly and fluidly, and he gains new powers to assist his mobility throughout the game, including the afore-mentioned Ice launch, and the Lightning Tether, which acts like the grapple link from Just Cause. Cole is satisfying to play as, a mixture of agility and power that make him more like Spider-Man than the Incredible Hulk.

The characters are all improved upon greatly. Cole gains a sense of humour and fun that he lacked noticeably in the first game. Kuo and Nix are both surprisingly deep characters with complicated moralities who will first confirm your expectations and then subvert them. The antagonist minor, Bertrand, rants and raves to the people of New Marais about how Conduits (people with powers) are evil, despite being one himself, and antagonist major, THE BEAST, isn’t what he seems to be either. Most important, Coles best friend Zeke- is not a total asshat anymore. In the first game, Zeke betrayed Cole in an attempt to gain powers, and was partly responsible for the death of Cole’s girlfriend, Trish. This time, Zeke is clearly trying his hardest to make up for his mistakes- he Builds Cole ‘the amp’ a melee weapon designed to focus his powers, which is a lot of fun to use. A lot more time is also devoted to their friendship this time around, with one mission consisting entirely of a cutscene of the two just hanging out, watching bad movies, drinking beers and ignoring everybody’s problems, if just for a little while. It’s really touching, and when Cole realises that Zeke is truly sorry for his actions, he not only forgives him, but apologises for treating Zeke like dirt.

Graphically, the game is stunning. New Marais is a very different animal to Empire City, being basically New Orleans. It has a rich, diverse and expansive setting, ranging from the beautiful old part of town, to the desolated flood town, to the ugly, dark industrial zone built by Bertrand. Each area is radically different in look and feeling, and require different tactics for exploration, particularly flood town, which is still mostly underwater, meaning you have to tread carefully, as water is the electrically powered Cole’s biggest weakness (not, this time around, chain-link fences). The way Cole changes physically along with his current morality is amazingly detailed, little things like the amp changing with him, becoming blackened and rusted if he’s evil, silver and shining if he’s good, along with his clothes changing- yellow for neutral, white and grey for heroic, black and red for evil.

Moral choices are frequently the same as they were in the first game- uncomplicated. You know if you want to be good or bed, and go for the obviously signposted option. Except at the end, where I get posited with this really difficult choice- there’s no obvious good or evil action, either way is going to result in good things and bad things on a huge scale, and then the game goes ahead and tells you which one is good and which one is bad anyway. Thanks.

Infamous 2 is an amazing game, and I loved every second of playing it, both as a good guy, and as a bad guy. With the added bonus that, when you complete your second play-through (I recommend being bad first and good second) at the end, all the powers are unlocked, regardless of your karma, and you get 15,000 ex points to spend on them. I strongly recomend Infamous 2.

 

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Posted in: Games, Review