Remember that time when mild-mannered courier and parkour-dabbler Cole McGrath delivered a mysterious object to downtown Empire City, only to have it explode, leave the city a wreck, and give him extraordinary electrical superpowers? Hey, do you also remember how he had to stop gangs from taking over the city and also stop a madman named Kessler from destroying the world with mighty powers of his own? Sure you do! That was Sucker Punch’s awesome open-world adventure from 2009, Infamous. Now Cole’s back for the sequel: a bigger, badder, more explosive epic that improves on the original in almost every way.
The Beast is coming. Cole saw a vision at the end of the first game of a mammoth “Beast” terrorizing the city, destroying everything in its path, and he has to stop it. But he’s not strong enough – not yet. Time to hop on a boat with his best friend Zeke, and their new federal agent buddy, Kuo, and head on down to New Marais to find some new powers. The New Orleans lookalike town is budding with new gangs to fight, new monsters to overcome, and plenty of awesome new powers. Meanwhile the Beast plows its way down the eastern seaboard, heading your way.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
Powers powers and more powers! As you progress through the game, earning XP, performing stunts, finishing side missions, you will unlock a bevy of new upgrades for your powers. Not happy with the traditional Lightning Bolt? Need something with more range? Equip the Artillery Bolt! Is speed your thing? Check out the Bolt Stream! There’s Cluster Grenades, Tornadoes, Multi-Headed Rockets, Lightning Tethers (tired of climbing? fire the tether to the top of a building and it’ll pull you up) and plenty of variety to keep you entertained. As you progress through the story, you can even unlock Ice and/or Fire based powers, which add even more depth to your destruction.
The Amp! Improving on the mostly lame melee combat from the original, Cole now carries an electrical bashing weapon called The Amp. You can perform combos with it, and basically just pound on enemies. And its a very useful weapon at certain points in the game. A nice addition.
The Good and Evil paths bring a lot more to the table this time. Not only are the endings completely different (unlike in the first game), but you get pulled in both directions by your own personal angel and devil on the shoulder: Kuo and Nix. Kuo is a federal agent turned icy superhero, always urging you to save civilians and do the right thing. Nix is a teleporting pyro freak, trying to impose her dark side on you at all times. Major plot points involve a good and an evil mission options, and, as in the original game, the more you tread down one path, the more civilians love or hate you. Evil Cole gets pelted with rocks, shot at by cops, while Good Cole gets standing ovations and cops watching his back. Both sides are equally entertaining, but obviously there’s a special thrill from launching a car into a group of random New Marais citizens.
User Generated Content! Yep, the influence of Little Big Planet has spread to the Infamous universe. The game includes a mission creation toolbox, allowing any user to create their own unique missions and upload them to the UGC server for the whole world to enjoy. I personally found the toolbox a bit tough to understand at first, but some of the levels I played were really quite inventive.
Better graphics! The graphics have been vastly improved, especially in the non-comic book style cutscenes. Great job on the character models, as well as breathing life into the varied environments of New Marais. One of the best looking games out there.
For the trophy collectors out there, you will be happy to know Infamous 2 is a much easier and less annoying Platinum to achieve than the original. You can unlock a Blast Shard Radar to find the missing shards, instead of roaming aimlessly clicking L3 every two seconds. Should take just the minimum two playthroughs to knock it out, one Good and one Evil! Ding!
Zeke calls you on the phone, asks you to come over, try out that new blast core you got (using them gives you new powers). You run on over to his rooftop residence, and trigger a wonderfully low-key cutscene. Plopped on the couch together, they crack open a couple beers, ignore their ringing cellphones, and silently watch some TV. A great moment that I was so happy to see included in a frenzied fast-paced game like this. Television shows and video games forget all too often that their heroes can’t actually be running around nonstop saving the day without taking a break to be a real person (I’m looking at you, 24…).
ITS NOT ALL GOOD!
How come the Evil storyline isn’t completely separate from the Good storyline? Why am I helping rebels fight gangs when I should just be murdering everyone! While the two storylines do diverge every now and then, they always meet back up at the same linear path – that is, until the ending. I would have enjoyed having a completely different experience based on which moral path I chose. Still leaves the door open a little too much for questions like, “what if Cole was a real supervillain and didn’t care about helping the city anymore?” Guess that’s what games like Prototype are for.
40 story missions and 60 side missions might sound like a lot. But it goes by in a hurry. Going back to the previous point, if the two available ‘storylines’ overlap nearly 80% of the time, then maybe the game could stand to be a little longer? For comparison’s sake, its maybe twice as long as Portal 2, but shorter than L.A. Noire.
User Generated Content is a cool idea and all, but the creation tools aren’t all that user friendly, and while the game has only been out a couple weeks, I’d like to see some better quality out of the UGC missions. Most of the entertaining ones are gimmicky and short. Expect to find a lot of “here’s a neverending spawn of enemies to defeat! and you can only melee! have fun!” Great.
A major step forward from the original in nearly every way, Infamous 2 solidifies itself as a PlayStation 3 franchise to pay attention to. Stepping out of the shadow of GTA sandbox games, and distancing itself from the trainwreck called Prototype (released at the same time of Infamous 1), PS3 owners have an incredibly entertaining, influential, and unique series to enjoy. Between Infamous and the Batman: Arkham series, things are looking up for superhero video games.
8.5 / 10