Cole McGrath may not be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment today, but he’s definitely an electrically charged dude who makes a great poster boy for Sony. He and his controversial best friend Zeke have amped things up a bit in the sequel and this adventure is bigger and definitely better!
The setting of the first game, Empire City, has been completely destroyed by a menacing force called “The Beast” which looks like a Titan from the God of War series. As a result, Cole and Zeke have had to relocate New Marais and see how they can prevent total destruction at the hands of the Beast. If inFamous 2 is your first inFamous experience and you fear that the story will go over the top of your head more than a flock of birds going south for the winter; then fear not. Yes the story links to the events that preceded in inFamous but you get a nice summary of what happened prior and you’re up-to-date rather quickly.
Now let’s get this straight, I had no obvious emotional attachment to Cole in inFamous, nor did I have any hidden emotional attachment to Cole either. In inFamous 2, I have a teeny bit; which is clearly progress and development of his character as a whole. His voice is less Christian Bale and more human. Instead of the game having Cole and Zeke as a knock-off Batman & Robin duo like the entirety of the last game, we have additional characters which add to the magnitude of the stories decisions and plot. Alongside Cole and Zeke we have Kuo and Nix. Both of these foxy, ferocious, fearsome women represent your typical good role, bad role characters which again will influence and effectively dictate the end of the story based on your actions e.g. who you side with. Kuo is initially a regular secret agent turned superhero with powers and all that good stuff, she’s good and seeks the morally appropriate action that is positive and sensible for everyone. Whereas Nix is pretty much an evil femme fatale who leads you to trouble and wants to commit heinous actions of evil. So what’s your poison eh?
I enjoyed the story and felt it was strong, the continuous update of how far away The Beast is always a nice reminder of the destructive force approaching. But it doesn’t feel as involved as it should be. The introduction the game sees an early battle with the beast and Cole fails miserably to conquer it. It shows he’s weak and needs to get stronger in order to best it. But after this, the beast is pretty much absent throughout the game. Considering the game is centred on the beast and climaxing towards a confrontation with this monstrous wall of destruction; I’d have expected more anxiety induced by visual means instead of audio and characters talking about it. Building up to the all-important criticality of facing the beast, I’d have liked videos or captioned pictures showing it getting closer and letting you know that it’s coming for you. Instead I was playing with a cold sense of disappointment and a rather anti-climactic ending to an otherwise fine story.
Compared to the last game, EVERYTHING is better. The graphics are shinier and more explosions are always a visual delight, especially when the game doesn’t suffer from bad graphical hitches that make the original game look choppy and ugly. I loved deliberately throwing grenades around me and at cars just to see the whirlwind of chaos be unleashed into a bright ball of beauty. Manoeuvrability is inherently sleeker and more satisfying. Instead of the laboured mashing of the jump button to scale a large building, Sucker Punch studios have now introduced vertical ascensions poles which you hop on to and they will spring you up to the summit of a building like a geyser. The melee combo is more fluid and feels better, plus there is a now a gauge that fills up with each successful attack on an enemy. Once this bar reaches optimum capacity then you can unleash a finishing attack, the only drawback is that the camera zooms in when you hit an enemy and when you’re facing a group of them then your vision is severely impaired and it’s very difficult to know what’s coming next.
Taking control of a supercharged human with capabilities such as sending cars hurtling miles with a shockwave, throwing cars at wherever you so desire and creating an ionic vortex (an electric tornado) to gobble up the enemies and spit them out like a baby’s dummy is a LOT of fun. Predictably the game takes all of your powers from the previous game and gives them a little boost with jumper leads to add some extra zap to them. By the end of the game I felt like a 16 tonne weight covered in electricity. I was a walking thunder storm of awesome power that could negotiate areas with ease as I spring boarded into the air and glided everywhere with my static thrusters. It’s completely satisfying and you can mix and match powers, even more so if they’re used in tandem with one of your sidekicks. Cole McGrath can make Iron Man look as mobile as someone with a zimmer frame and Captain America as strong a teenager trying to lift his first over-sized dumbbell.
The scale of the map is roughly the same size as the first game and there is a decent amount of things to do in it. It will probably take you between 15-20 hours to do everything in the game, this includes: finding all the hidden blast shards, all side missions (dependant on karma based choices), story missions and finding the dead drops which are pigeons with radio transmissions attached to them; as most pigeons do. You get two quite different campaigns based on your own perception of humanity. You’re both the hero and the saviour of New Marais, looking flashier than Superman and kicking more arse than Jackie Chan and Jet Li when they’re in bad mood. OR you’re the brutal, sadistic and most definitely sinister figure that remorselessly slays civilians, defies authority and will definitely make his way onto Santa’s naughty list without it having to be checked twice.
Despite the positive differences between this and its predecessor. One of the short falls for InFamous 2, and to some extent the same as InFamous 1, is the repetition and unimaginative side missions. Now you only get a limited amount of variety in the side missions, some are more story driven which can be fun and have a fun bearing on your karmic choice. But as for the rest, they range from kill all enemies in a given area, jump on an electrical transformer and quickly get to the next one nearby to re-activate it, finding a hidden package based on a picture and taking pictures of different objects and situations. It’s such a shame as the game has variety and depth in its development, but falters with boring side missions that I only did out of necessity for total completion; otherwise I’d have left them to rot like the proverbial apple.
InFamous 2 is a fun story-based platfomer as it can easily leave you in shock and awe one moment and electrically discharged the next. The game thrives on giving the user incredible empowerment with the big range of abilities and possibilities of defeating enemies and moving around the map. The story is a lot stronger with better dialogue and more characters that help shape the story into a more exciting plot. You get enough bang for your buck in an adventure that’s worth playing twice and if you can overlook the tame side missions that, for the most part, lack serious imagination, then you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun in New Marais. Now go Ride The Lightening!