InFamous was one of my favourite games in recent years, it combined fast, hard hitting action with the option to fulfill your inner eviiiillll nature. Killing civilians and butchering innocents was all part of the fun, although I have to admit my path was more honourable and valiant.
InFamous 2 continues with the story of Cole McGrath and the game immediately holds no punches, with a monumental first encounter battle with ‘The Beast’. Sadly the fight ends with Cole leaving with his tail between his legs to fight another day, but it certainly sets the mood for an epic and exhilarating gaming experience.
Video games with heroes can prove a real problem for developers. After all if you make the hero too powerful then there will be no sense of achievement, but make the hero too weak then it becomes an exercise in futility. This is developer Sucker Punch’s greatest achievement, getting the balance right to create a challenge for the gamer, yet giving the player enough powers to make the game fun to play. And Infamous 2 is a hell of a fun game to play, featuring many improvements when compared with the first title.
When the game was first fired up, Infamous 2 found my original save file and gave me a heroic ‘boost’, finding that my path was a good one in the previous outing. New Marais is the setting for InFamous 2 and it is a busy city scape populated with civilians, gangs and cops. The enemies are thick and diverse and they pollute the red light districts, slums and outer reaches.
As you play the game, you get updated warnings on how close The Beast is, to your location. This is a battle against the clock and unless you amp up your powers, he is going to destroy not only you, but the city and everyone in it.
Completing missions enhances your powers, you get given rewards for successful progression via a power unlock system. Each of the powers is integral to your future success and they aren’t easy to get. You get access to them by reaching a certain point in the story, or by achieving a particular Karmic level. These powers can be then awarded by completing a ‘stunt’ duty, such as killing a specific enemy in a certain way. For example, pushing 10 bad guys from a building rooftop. After these steps are completed then the powers are ready for purchase.
They make you work for the rewards, but in fairness, they powers are distinctly epic by nature and well worth the effort. Powers to enhance inflight movement, or lightning chain attacks will be earned over time and by the end of the game Cole McGrath is a force to be reckoned with. There are so many powers on offer, that you need a menu system to swap them out, when you most need them. You don’t forget a power when another one is given, but you are forced to limit them otherwise you would need a controller with hundreds of buttons.
Much like Infamous, you have quick travel methods based around electricity – Cole’s main power tie in. You can quickly skate across any power lines in the city, such as those connecting the rooftops. As the powers get more advanced, you can be propelled into the air on a pillar of ice or even launch yourself from car rooftops. The Lightning Tether ability also needs to be seen to be believed.
Why not just add the power of flight? Well, because the developers know that this would ruin Cole’s interaction with the environment. Everything has been clearly playtested to death, and then some. This is no buggy disaster of a console game, it is polished and smooth in all the corners.
Mastering Infamous 2 will take some time, but once you get used to the movement and control system, it really does become second nature. There are hundreds of missions and sub-missions and players can even download ‘user created content’ from the Playstation 3 network. Some of the user generated content is actually just as good as the official licensed mission material so avoid this at your peril.
Boss fights are extremely entertaining, although they aren’t quite as good as I hoped. They are slightly too scripted for my tastes and forced to a single location. I wouldn’t say they were poorly handled, but they seemed somewhat of a let down, considering the build up to reach them.
Cole is tightly tied into a morality system and this is complicated more by the nature of the game design. If you don’t tackle any of the ‘evil’ missions, then a lot of the best content will be missed. I have played the game through twice, once by making my actions as ‘good’ as possible, then again, by killing as many innocents as I could. The game really does merit several playthroughs.
Kuo and Nix are Cole’s sidekicks throughout the adventure, two female characters who have polar opposite views on how things should be done. Yep, one is evil by nature, and the other good. I really do need to make special mention of this, as they are both so lovingly created and voice acted. There comes a point when you have to choose between them and the decision is a tough one. Yet again this enhances the need to replay the game from the start and adds to the overall value of the title.
As in real life, the good and evil paths are not just black and white. The developers have been able to incorporate shades of grey into the decision making, because sometimes the good path is not the right one. Not for you, or the overall health of the city. A short term decision which looks evil on paper, might be the right one to make. Life is tough, and decisions in Infamous 2 can shape the path of the game.
Infamous 2 lasted about 15 hours for me, and with a replay you can easily get 30 hours from the experience, offering very good value for money. This isn’t a game which ‘might’ be replayed by a small audience. The paths are so varied that a replay is a must.
Graphically, the game is very impressive. The Playstation 3 renders the city without dipping into unplayable frame rates at any time. The characters all look great, and the movement is smooth. Environmental set pieces are impressive and the sunset in particular is beautiful to look at. One scene in particular placed Cole on a boat … when it was over he overlooked a long, undulating river, framed beautifully by a red and orange sunset. Stunningly attractive design work helps to enhance the feeling of being in a virtual reality. The cut scenes are also beautifully handled in comic book style.
Infamous 2 will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the original and to fans of Grand Theft Auto. It is an epic action game which deserves your attention.