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PlayStation 3 Review: inFAMOUS 2

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When the original inFAMOUS was released, it was a pretty important title for Sony and the PS3. It was from a well established developer, Sucker Punch, and had a unique and dark approach to a superhero game. It was well received both critically and financially, but I found that the game lost focus midway through and while fun tended towards the repetitive in nature. With inFAMOUS 2, Sucker Punch has seemed to learn from their previous title and crafted a finely tuned, refined, and frankly incredibly fun sequel.

click to view larger imageinFAMOUS 2 begins shortly after the end of the first game with the star, Cole McGrath, facing off against a towering creature called the Beast. Mcgrath is at the height of his electrical themed powers and he faces the gargantuan attacker head on. He gives it all he has but is simply not powerful enough and falls in the fight. He is brought to the New Orleans-inspired New Marais and quickly learns that there is a tool called the RFI Inhibitor that should tilt the scales in his favor enough to once again challenge the Beast and win. Of course, he needs to find and collect a number of Blast Cores in New Marais in order to be powerful enough to activate the RFI inhibitor and thus begins our quest.

New Marais is a much more coherent place then I found Empire City to be, it is recovering from a flood that obviously mimics the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and ruthless people have entered to take control. The main enemy (at the start) is a Militia run by a power hungry oil magnate called Bertrand. Bertrand is determined to bring martial law to New Marais and is focusing on Conduits (people like Cole McGrath who can get powers from Ray Sphere exposure) as the source of all the issues. Monsters have appeared and Bertrand is blaming conduits and a full scale witch hunt is occurring as people disappear under his persecution. All the while there is a plague sweeping through New Marais and the Beast is steadily making his way across the country towards McGrath to finish him off.

click to view larger imageAll of these factors add a very compelling sense of urgency to the game, you need to stop Bertrand, you need to deal with the plague, and the looming menace of the Beast is always there. Helping you in the quest is your friend Zeke and Agent Lucy Quo. Quo has a lot of intel that starts you on your path and later becomes a super-powered sidekick essential to a number of your moral decisions. Zeke is your long time buddy who nearly betrayed you in the first game and is desperately doing everything he can to win back your trust. You also meet another super powered conduit named Nix who is the Yang to Quo’s Yin.

Powers in inFAMOUS 2 are handled very well. Cole starts with a number of basic powers that he earned over time in the first game and learns many more that really add a great dimension to the game. Types of powers are mapped to the face buttons and you can learn varied versions of the same power. For example, by the end of the game I had a standard electrical grenade, a sticky grenade, an ice grenade, and a cluster grenade. Switching the powers is incredibly fluid, push left on the d-pad and press the face button for the powers you want to choose until the right one appears. inFAMOUS 2 also adds a number of travel powers gradually that really help you speed through the game world, but in a way that never lets you miss anything or feel too slow.

click to view larger imageinFAMOUS 2 also has a morality system that lets you steer towards a good or evil path. Generally the choices are very cut and dry and are mapped as blue icons for good and red icons for evil. There is no real depth to the system, but I found that the ease I had of choosing these actions really helped me focus on my chosen moral path without having to work hard at it. I would have liked to see a little, I don’t know, ‘more’ out of the morality system, but basic as it is it got the job done. If you become a good-focused Cole McGrath people cheer you and eventual throw rocks at your attackers. If you travel the evil path, they jeer, run away, or even attack you when groups are present.

Quests, sidequests, and random events happen seamlessly throughout the game world. Quests are clearly marked on the map and can be selected and started instantly whereas persistent events can be stumbled on and completed quickly for immediate reward. All actions from defeating enemies, to disarming bombs and healing people give experience which can then be used to buy powers you have unlocked. I truly love and respect the work Sucker Punch put into this game to make it seamless at all times. The game starts right where you left off every time you load the game (no menu asking you to continue) and load times are virtually non-existent unless you skip cutscenes. Frankly Sucker Punch should sell their technology; they could surely make millions off that alone. It adds an immersiveness to the game that many titles miss due to frequent, action-interrupting, load times.

click to view larger imageinFAMOUS 2 is packed with content aside from the  game proper, there are blast shards to collect, persistent occurrences, sidequests, and much more, but that wasn’t enough for Sucker Punch. They have added a full suite of creation tools anyone can use and seamlessly integrate them into the game proper. Called User-Generated Content, or UGC for short, this system is actually pretty amazing. The UGC missions are always represented by green icons and can be seen all over the game map (they can be turned off if not wanted). You can filter what UGC you see as well, I chose ‘popular’ UGC and had a blast playing through the dozen or so missions I tried. Sucker Punch has given players access to a ton of assets from the game and some great content has been rolled out that adds a lot of replayability to the game.

Graphically, inFAMOUS 2 looks outstanding, with a look and feel that just plain works. The city of New Marais is bright and colorful in some spots, devastated and flooded in others. Water is handled exceptionally well as is the special effects from weapons and powers. Characters, especially in the in-game cut scenes look great. I found Cole McGrath very generic, but fans wanted it that way and got their wish. Other supporting cast all have unique looks and personalities and I actually found myself enjoying all their little quirks. The view distance is outstanding and considering this is an open world game that is a very good thing. It is truly great to see a building WAY in the distance and hover/tether/run/power line dash right to it. One of the coolest moments in the game has you seeing the Beast in the horizon spewing fire and destruction on armed forces trying to stop it.

click to view larger imageNow, this review focuses on the great parts of the game, and rest assured inFAMOUS 2 is a terrific title, but it is not perfect. Combat is fun, but can get unnecessarily chaotic with attacks coming from off screen at times and enemies who can push you to frustrating results. Your sidekick characters are inconsistent as they get incredibly angry with you at times and then when the next mission starts everything is fine. Some more customization of McGrath would be greatly appreciated as well.  As the game is always looking at him, it would be nice to have some appearance unlocks as well.

These are all minor quibbles though and at the end of the day I have no hesitation in recommending inFAMOUS 2 to everyone who likes action games. The story is excellent, the gameplay is solid and varied, and the powers are suitably superhuman. inFAMOUS 2 takes all of the positive qualities of the first title; strips out the annoying bits; and adds depth, satisfying progression, and characters you actually care about. It’s a terrific game and has me greatly anticipating whatever else Sucker Punch has up their sleeve for the franchise.

inFAMOUS 2 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence.

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About Michael Prince

Looking at all things Geek - news, rants and updates from the worlds of gaming, tech, blu-ray, novels, and music.