This past Thanksgiving I picked one of the more well-known games of the year: inFamous 2. As I wandered around Best Buy at that time, I noticed (and still do as I return every so often) that the game is bundled with the PlayStation 3 system. So that brings up some important questions: Is inFamous 2 a “good” sequel? And is it worth admission to get people interested in the PS3?
infamous 2 follows electric superhero, Cole McGrath. Shortly after the events of the original game, a mysterious monster known as “The Beast” comes to Empire City and completely ravages the city. At that time, a woman known as Koh takes Cole and Zeke down to New Madrais in order for Cole to gain the powers necessary to destroy The Beast. As soon as they arrive, they encounter The First Sons, a militaristic group that murders anyone who’s different and keeps the town in complete and utter control. Plus you’ve got blast cores to find in order to boost Cole’s powers. So how does all of this come together?
In all honesty, infamous 2 will not win any narrative awards. And it isn’t trying to reinvent itself or the action/exploration genre. Where the first game was about a hero finding his “voice,” the second game is about our hero trying to “maintain” it. As such, some people argue that the game’s plot is a step backwards. However, I don’t feel that way. It’s a solid plot, and it’s enjoyable. What’s wrong with a light-hearted comic book styled plot?
Gameplay is a mixture of a second-person shooter and platforming. As in the previous game, you have almost entire free range of the city from the start of the game. Cole roams around town completing sub and main quests, stopping “monsters,” saving innocents, disabling bombs and wrecking interactive art displays. In fact, it makes for a more realistic world and makes it feel like you have more of a say in how the city evolves (albeit it’s still superficial) even though the “good” and “bad” choices are all obviously set-up in a black and white manner. Of course, that’s part of the fun: seeing both sides of the story. Yet it would be cooler to allow for a more “gray” in the story and gameplay.
At least everything controls well. This time around, certain things are a bit more unbalanced. Some are good, and some are bad. For example, electricity is constantly drained as Cole attacks. Furthermore, skills are set by the story and stronger attacks are also bound by it. So it often means that Cole’ll be underpowered for almost half the game. On the plus side, there are some pretty cool improvements. My favorite is the machine gun-like electric bolts that fire rapidly from his palms. And then there are the ice grenades that freeze the ground surrounding it when it lands. I don’t know how to describe it. This installment just feels a bit more refined in this aspect.
It’s important to mention that the game has user-generated content. If you’re connected to PSN, the gameshow hotspots of where other players have created missions. I’m not much of a modder, so this part didn’t appeal to me. It also doesn’t help that most of the content is mediocre at best. Still, there is some cool content if one is willing to sift through it all.
Graphically , not much has changed with Cole’s move down south. The game engine looks and runs exactly the same. This isn’t a bad thing as the engine is not broken. Cole can still move and around with the best of them. The jacket’s come off and now we can see his arm tattoos (I like eye candy as much as the next person and find tattoos to be a fascinating bit of art). Monsters look like organic insects. Ice can pop out of the ground at one conduit’s will. There are golems of ice can create ice easily and then fire it at Cole. The whole city has a New Orleans feel (hence the similarities in name and location) and gives it much more atmosphere than Empire City. The catch is simple: there’s no feeling of a super hero overlooking a city. I like to refer to it as “The Batman Syndrome.” What does our favorite superhero do at night? Climb to the highest building and watch everything from a distance. There are only a few spots that offer that vantage point instead of several in the previous game. It makes Cole’s climbing abilities seem lamer than it should.
Sonically, the game is alright. There aren’t any particular sound elements or tracks that pop out to me. This isn’t to say that the soundtrack is bad. It’s more about the action occurring before your eyes than the world feel. On the plus side, the voice acting is quite solid and does a great job selling the world. The voice actor playing Cole has changed. Gone is Cole’s raspy and jaded voice. This gentleman is more balanced in his approach of Cole. He has Cole sounding more like reluctant hero than the antihero from the first game.
Here’s the thing: I love inFamous 2. It continues the superhero theme that started in the first game and shows the struggles Cole has with being a “hero.” While the plot isn’t as inspired as the original, it’s presented more strongly (overall). So why mess with a formula that works? Yet it’s hard not to want more from the game. The same old missions are repeated throughout the game and are replayed too frequently. Vertical climbs are not as impressive as the original game. And why does Cole still have problems latching onto surfaces? It’s not a game breaker, just a game frustrator.
So is this game worth a $60 price tag — or be bundled with your new and shiny PS3? That depends on two things: 1), if you like superhero games and 2) how open you are to exploring and finding things on your own. If you can deal with (or love) either of those two ideas, then inFamous 2 is probably a good game for you to play. So go ahead and take that much needed trip down south. A little bit of sun, ice and electricity never hurt anyone.