inFamous 2 User Review
The most immediate change is found in the graphics. This is primarily because these are the first things that you will notice. The game starts off with a comic book cut-scene, not unlike the ones that told the majority of the story in the original game, and I was glad to see the return of these. It’s a short look back at the protagonist, Cole McGrath and the events of inFamous which lead up to the opening of this game. With this short introductory sequence out of the way, it transitions into a gorgeous cinematic cutscene as Cole and best friend, Zeke are preparing to farewell Empire City, for the greener pastures of New Marais, where Cole seeks the power to overcome The Beast, a Conduit of immense power whose arrival was prophesised at the end of the original game. In the midst of this, this force of nature arrives in the distance, and immediately begins to tear the city apart.
What follows is a breathtaking opening sequence to rival even the God of War series in majesty. Once the battle is completed, you find yourself on the way to New Marais. Even though you are only offered a very small glimpse of Empire City, there is, in particular, one landmark that should be somewhat familiar, and the increase in detail is astonishing. But then, you arrive in New Marais, and your breath is arrested. The city is alive in a way that Empire never was, and with the diversity of five (four, strictly speaking, but I’m counting the swamp as another) different burroughs, things are clearly ramped up. The attention to detail leaves Marais looking as good as any other open world in a video game, and the character models are downright amazing. Add into this the destruction that you can wreak, the improvements to the animation, some massive and fantastic landmarks, great particle effects and the far more visible changes to Cole’s appearance depending on your moral alignment, and it makes for a brilliant presentation.
There are some drawbacks though that are common to such immense games. The game is infrequently hit with minor framerate issues. There are also clipping and collision detection problems from time to time, and it is also quite possible to become lodged within the environment. Thankfully, it is usually possible to work yourself free from this last predicament. The other issue lies in the camera. While it is more than functional most of the time, it sits considerably closer to the character than it did before, and this can bring up some issues. Foremost among these is that it is far easier to lose sight of him in close quarters as the camera swings about at random. It also has a tendency to flicker away from the action, which can be very irksome in the middle of a battle. When taking the evil route, the screen will occasionally become occluded by the particle effects imbued upon some of the Karma-exclusive powers, though the same thing will happen to enemies regardless of Karmic Alignment, depending on what you throw at them. Finally, the first game became incredibly boring due to the constant copy and paste of the map, and something of that is retained here, as certain elements are again recycled over and over in each zone. Thankfully, there are more base models, which helps.
The moment I first heard Cole speak, I was taken aback. His voice is far gentler than it was before, and it was a surprise to hear that. However, I quickly adjusted to it, and realised that it works well in regards to his improved personality. The old gruff Cole was good, so long as he was serious, but this new Cole is cool and has some amazing one-liners, as well as the voice actor really managing to inject emotion into the moments where it was needed, which was simply not present in the first game. The other voice actors all do a good job, though none of them steal the show. There is also more to hear from the crowds of people, whether admiration or hate, and it’s another one of those small touches that helps to bring the city to life.
Combine all of this new dialogue with the always-fitting sound effects as well as the vastly improved ambience and one can really lose themselves in the auditory presentation. Add to this a really slick soundtrack that picks up the moment you engage in battle, and winds down afterwards, as well as the way that music is utilised in certain story scenes, it increases the cinematic feel of the entirety of the game. If there is a downside to all of this, it is that the city still feels somewhat muted. Yes, it is a huge improvement over the first game, but it still doesn’t compare to something like GTA IV’s Liberty City, which felt alive through the constant sounds of life. Too bad really.
But here’s where we get to the nitty gritty. There are three immediately noticeable things in terms of the control. As already mentioned, the camera sit’s a considerable amount closer to Cole, and this can lead to some awkward situations, particularly when taken in conjunction with his slightly increased movement speed. It is initially quite hard to get a handle on the controls because of this, but that quickly fades. The clinging mechanic has been toned down considerably, making it more difficult to get caught on ledges and the like, but it also works in counteraction, making it difficult to climb, as even pulling slightly away from the wall can lead to you falling to the ground. Considering that this is such a core part of the game I was disappointed. Most of the controls remain unchanged from the original game, though there is a new menu to quick-select from your list of powers, which is accessed through the D-Pad. Newcomers to the game should have no real issue with it, as you are generally given ample time to acclimatise yourself to the controls before things really start to heat up.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s fantastic. There is something about the way that it is a third-person action adventure, which heavily relies on shooter elements, as well as having extremely intuitive traversal mechanics for the open city that can make the game constant fun. Admittedly, the later levels begin to feel almost as though Sucker Punch were running out of bright ideas and instead throwing ever-increasing numbers of enemies at you to make things more difficult, but that feel is certainly mitigated by the rest of the game. Add to this hundreds of blast shards scattered around the city to track down, as well as 29 pigeons to shoot down to get more information on the backstory, and you can easily get sidetracked.
There are a number of different objectives though most involve going somewhere and killing a bunch of really ugly enemies. There is more diversity in the side missions, so there is definitely incentive to go off the rails occasionally, and this will actually help in that it eliminates enemies from areas, as well as opening up extra medical facilities. In addition to this, scattered about the city are Karma opportunities, which will push you in either direction. These are actually really small things, like groups of protesters that you can eliminate, or wounded to heal. There are people running about with blast shards that you can kill to steal from, or blast shard bombs to defuse. They’re a nice addition, but I wish that they weren’t openly tied to a Karma direction. I would have preferred for them to simply be marked on the minimap so that you could then choose depending on whether you wanted to or not, rather than relying on your Karmic alignment to dictate your actions.
In fact, I wish that the whole game had been more subtle in this. Unfortunately, as in the first game you are presented with several major Karma choices, which ultimately decide the type of powers available to you. Aside from this though, and a few small cutscenes and dialogue options, your Karmic alignment affects nothing but the ending, as there are two, both of which are equally powerful and poignant.
As a gamer, I must say that it is a rare thing that I can get absolutely lost in a game, and indeed addicted to it. Not in that I’m constantly itching to get back to it, but that I sit down with the intention to play for only a set time, and end up tripling that easily. I thought I had begun to waver from the hobby, but perhaps all I needed was something to rejuvenate my interest, and inFamous 2 has been that game. If that isn’t recommendation enough for the gameplay, then I don’t know what is.
As for the story, it is a logical continuation of the original, though it isn’t a whole lot better in the grand scheme of things. I previously mentioned that The Beast arrives and destroys Empire City, severely wounding Cole, and as such he, Zeke and new character, NSA Agent, Lucy Kuo flee to New Marais, where the creator of the Ray Sphere (the device that gave Cole his powers) resides. It is with the assistance of this man that Cole hopes to gain enough strength to finally defeat The Beast, but is waylaid in the quest by the presence of the Militia, a ragtag army led by idealist, and humans-first protestor, Joseph Bertrand. In addition to this, New Marais is also infested by a bunch of swamp monsters that frequently invade the streets in packs. It’s a twisted world that Cole has to fight through.
The story itself has quite a few twists and turns, and these certainly help to facilitate the gameplay. Moreover, they make sense when placed into context. Perhaps the biggest factor for my enjoyment from the story was in the character interactions. There are so few games where this feels organic and realistic, but there is no problem with that here. The way that all of the main characters interact, even what is seen between Cole and Bertrand is superbly done, and it is perhaps here that it is most clear that Naughty Dog helped, as one is reminded forcefully of this very same trait being admirably implemented in the Uncharted series. In spite of this, I would have liked to have seen a few loose ends from the original game tied up, such as what eventually happened to Alden and Sasha, but no such thing comes to light. Also, throughout the game there are very few moments capable of raising real emotion, except the endings, and these really do help to raise one’s respect of the game.
Further to this is the incredible length of the game. If you choose to stick to only the story, it can probably be beaten in under fifteen hours, though there is little reason, or incentive to do that. Choosing to take on all of the side missions and find all of the shards and dead drops can easily pad that out to twenty or more. Then, you can play it all over again with the opposite Karmic alignment, which gives you access to a different set of power upgrades, and ultimately leads to a different ending. It also then leaves you free to purchase all of the powers of the first Karmic alignment, so it’s probably better to wait to complete everything until the second play through, as it then gives you a ton more options.
In addition to this, there is a robust User Generated mission system that will further improve replayability for online gamers, whether they choose to create their own, or simply play others crafted by the community.
Seriously, I cannot offer enough praise for this game. It is one hell of a ride from start to finish, and well worth the price of admission. If you own a PS3, you owe it to yourself to take this for a whirl. Sucker Punch have cemented themselves as a top-notch developer here, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in waiting with the utmost impatience to find out what their next project is.
Thankyou for your time and I hope that you found my words to be both informative and helpful. Until next time PSXE, Peace and Law be with you.
P.S. I guess I lied last time when I said that I’d be cutting down the length of my reviews. I swear that I tried though. Anyway, were this a professional review, I probably would have given it a lower overall score, and this review is most certainly tainted by bias for the game, in spite of my best efforts. Just so that you’re not swayed by my enthusiasm.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.