Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America / Developer: Sucker Punch Productions / ESRB: Teen (Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence) / Price: $59.99 / Played on: PlayStation 3
As Cole MacGrath you stand perched on the top of a power pole, looking down at the ground where ten militiamen armed with machine guns and rocket launchers meander about. You hop from your position and grind along the power lines, electricity coursing through your body as you gain momentum. In an instant you leap from the cables and descend, feet-first, the wind whistling in your ears and electricity trailing behind. Boom! You slam into the crowd of militiamen with a tremendous clap of electric energy. The thugs are blown backward by the impact. Some stagger to their feet, while others lay motionless. One pulls up his rocket launcher and fires an RPG in your direction, but you use a powerful blast of energy to deflect the projectile off course. Those left alive try to finish you off with gunfire but you’re too quick for them. You pummel the remainder in a frantic melee battle, slamming enemies with your electric cattle prod. Those still alive lay on the pavement, squirming in agony. You leap on to the nearest light poll and make your way to the rooftops. Who’s next?
I’ll make this brief and spoiler free: inFAMOUS 2 takes place right after the original with Cole now having to stop a new enemy called The Beast. He must travel to New Marais (inFAMOUS’ take on New Orleans) to increase his power so that he can defeat this new enemy, which is making its way down the east coast and destroying everything in its path. On Cole’s journey to prepare for his showdown with The Beast, he gets help from his pal Zeke plus new super-powered heroines Kuo and Nix; each who have their own interest in Cole. However the mayor of New Marais, Joseph Bertrand, considers Cole a menace to his city and has fortified it with a local militia powerful enough to stop an electrical freak.
The control in inFAMOUS 2 is tight, making it easy for you to navigate through New Marais. The solid climbing mechanics from the Sly Cooper series that made developer Sucker Punch famous for their open-world platforming gameplay are definitely a major component here as Cole’s movements mirror the thieving raccoon’s. It is fun and easy to scale buildings, grind power lines, and float through the air. Cole always manages to grapple onto a ledge, so despite all the high-rise daring it’s rare to fall to your death.
The handling of Cole’s vast repertoire of powers was something that Sucker Punch obviously took into consideration. The developers included a hot-key layout so that you can effortlessly switch powers. Just press the left button on the D-pad and tap the face button that corresponds with the power you want. It’s that simple. Aiming your lightning blasts is also a cinch, making headshots as easy and frequent as they were in the first inFAMOUS.
The melee combat in inFAMOUS 2 is the weakest element of its control. The camera has difficulty following the action, which causes frequent deaths. When fighting occurs, it can easily become a loose and often frustrating experience.
Sucker Punch has taken the solid gameplay of inFAMOUS and improved upon it. You begin with the set of powers that took you the entire length of the first title to attain. As you progress you earn new and more powerful abilities. Like the original inFAMOUS, your moral choices affect which types of powers you can acquire. However, these powers are entirely unique to which moral path you choose. You will have to play the game twice if you want to experience every power.
inFAMOUS 2 does a great job of rewarding you with new and unique powers as you progress through the story. If you take the time to do side missions, you will be given more experience, which you spend to increase your ability as hero or villain. Sucker Punch has done a great job with power progression, making you want to max -out each ability.
Aside from the main narrative, which lasts about 12-15 hours, there are plenty of side missions. Collecting blast shards (those fluorescent crack rocks from the original) is fun and a great way to explore New Marais. Seeing that indigo glow in the distance will bring you to them like a moth to the flame, trust me.
inFAMOUS 2 has a deep and varied user generated content creation system that is ready right out of the box. Sucker Punch had already sprinkled New Marais with their own user created missions to get your creative juices flowing. These missions, highlighted as green exclamation points on your map, are something intended to keep you coming back after you’ve finished the game.
You can use the UGC creator to easily create “fly through the rings” missions or story-like events that have their own enemies with AI routines and vast narrative description. The UGC creator can be intimidating, but if you master the tools you’ll be able to create missions that rival the campaign.
The main issue with inFAMOUS 2 is the repetition of the mission types. You are always on a fetch quest and dispatching similar enemies. There are times in which the repetitive nature of the game caused me to get bored. At numerous occasions inFAMOUS 2 felt like a grind. I feel as though Sucker Punch could’ve shaved off some hours to make a tighter experience.
It is obvious that Sucker Punch has made a conscious decision to put gameplay ahead of how pretty inFAMOUS 2 looks. I’m not saying that the game looks bad, but it is rough around the edges. Objects like cars are recycled and textures can be bland. NPC’s aren’t anywhere near the detail of the main characters and their animation is awkward.
However, all the cinematics are performed in-engine with fully mo-capped performances. The visual action of the game can become a cluster of mayhem but I rarely experienced slowdown. The draw distance in the game is expansive and there are no load times.
The sound in inFAMOUS 2 is somewhat controversial due to Cole’s voice actor being replaced. A lot of fans were outraged, but I’m happy with the change. Cole’s new voice actor, Eric Ladin, brings a depth and humor to the table that the original lacked. Ladin sounds like an Apocalypse Now era Martin Sheen. Zeke, who I tried to kill constantly in the first game, is now bearable and even likable. All of the voice actors portray their characters strongly except for Nix, who is always saying “man.”
The music of inFAMOUS 2 is unique and urban, but there were some times where it would cut in and out. The sound effects are detailed and I particularly liked it when the wind whistled past my ears as I flew through New Marais.
inFAMOUS 2 is far from perfect, but it’s a solid open-world action title. If you are a fan of the first one, then this is a must play. If you are new to the series I suggest you play the first inFAMOUS (for free on the PSN for a limited time) so you can follow the story. It no doubt has several minor flaws, but is otherwise a fun sequel that clearly understands the weaknesses of the original and addresses them all.