The first inFAMOUS remains one of the absolute best exclusives you can find on the Playstation 3. Now, Sucker Punch can lay claim to making yet another one of the PS3’s very best games. inFAMOUS 2 improves on nearly every aspect of the original, and turns out to be an incredibly fun and engaging experience.
If you are unfamiliar with the inFAMOUS series, inFAMOUS 2 continues the story of Cole McGrath. A man who by a catastrophic event has received electric superpowers. While it isn’t absolutely necessary that you know the story of the first game, inFAMOUS 2 does very little to help explain the events leading up to it.
Considering that you can get inFAMOUS for free right now because of the welcome back program, you really have no excuse not to play the first game. If you haven’t played inFAMOUS yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up right now.
inFAMOUS 2 kicks things off quickly, it picks up shortly after the first game and starts the action right away. “The Beast” that Kessler prophesized has come to Empire City and it’s up to Cole to stop it. Unfortunately, Cole is nowhere near strong enough to battle with the beast at this point, however a secret agent named Kuo and her associate Dr. Sebastian Wolfe who worked with the First Sons have a plan that will help Cole to become more powerful. So Cole and his friend Zeke make a hasty retreat to the city of New Marais in the south. Here Wolfe explains that Cole needs to absorb the power of the so called Blast Cores in order to stop the beast. The story ends up developing at a pretty steady pace, with a few interesting turns along the way, although nothing like the surprises in the first inFAMOUS. inFAMOUS 2 ends up being a nice continuation of Cole’s story, and although the story doesn’t end up being as memorable as the first, it is in all respects very good. What I enjoyed most about the sequel was the development given to both Cole and Zeke. Both characters who I didn’t feel a lot of attachment to in the first game, ended up being well developed and even charming. Later on in the story Cole encounters other conduits similar to him with a variety of powers, this is the only portion of the story that I would have like to see developed on just a bit more. Just powering through the main story mission should take you about ten to eleven hours in total, but this is without doing absolutely anything extra in a game that has a lot of extras in it.
Story is only a part of the game though, and where inFAMOUS 2 really shines is the gameplay. Once again you take control of Cole and his over the top supercharged electric powers. Only this time, you start out with everything you had at the end of the first game and move forward from there. You have your basic bolt attack, which varies just a bit from the first game; then you also have electric grenades, missiles, and shockwaves. You also get various moves that increase your mobility as well as super attacks like the Ionic Vortex which creates a giant tornado of destruction. You can’t indefinitely use these powers though, each power you use saps some of your electricity pool, Cole can absorb the electricity from any item in New Marais that may have it however. In addition super moves like the Ionic Vortex can only be used once, enemies drop charges for these moves randomly and as you level up you can increase your storage to three of them at a time. Cole also receives an upgrade in his melee combat in the form of the amp, a metal kind of fork that Cole uses to attack enemies. His upgraded melee abilities add some more variety to an already good system. The combat system turns out to be a ton of fun just like in the first game, Cole is easy to maneuver and very quick and mobile. His powers while over the top, don’t completely nerf the difficulty, and enemies have their own tricks to throw at you anyway. Enemies are definitely more varied this time around, and you have to learn how to properly handle each different enemy type. The only real problem you may experience with the game play is the camera, which can get a bit uncooperative in close quarters battles. It doesn’t get in the way much though.
The same mission structure in the first game makes a return for the second. Story missions are placed around on the map with white markers and you must go to each one and start the mission when you want to. You are free to explore the expansive city if of New Marais at your leisure though, this is a sandbox game after all. Side missions appear and yellow and are optional, but they do help your reclaim the town of New Marais and subdue enemy activity in the area. One of the most interesting additions for inFAMOUS 2 however, is the inclusion of User Generated Content or UGC. These missions are created by the community with the surprisingly deep mission creator. Everyone has access to the same tools to create these missions, and like anything user-generated this turns out to give you fun and enjoyable missions while also giving you poorly crafted ones at the same time. You have a few different filters you can use to change how UGC appears on your map, such as just setting famous and popular missions to appear. These missions appear in green on the map and world and depending on the design can be short mini-game like affairs, or full fledged well thought out missions with story. I honestly really enjoyed the inclusion of the mission editor, it adds a ton of replay value to an already extensive game and I found myself thoroughly enjoying some people’s missions. Besides the missions there are also various random events you can complete that affect your karma. Things like stopping holdups or breaking up protesters and silencing street performers are all small things scattered across the entirety of New Marais. In addition there are Dead Drops and Blast shards to collect again.
A major focus of the inFAMOUS series is the karma system and good or evil choices. Cole’s powers and even look are altered by your choice to have either good or bad karma. As you would expect the correlation between good and bad karma and choices is exactly as it sounds. Throughout the game you will be presented will good or evil choices and missions as well as those small random events. There is also one huge and truly difficult choice to make at the end, but of course I wouldn’t want to spoil that for you. Once again you also receive experience point for what you do in the game; you use these to buy different variations on Cole’s basic powers. But before you can buy these powers you do have to complete various objectives in the game, like sticking a grenade to ten enemies.
Graphics is another area where you can see the definite improvement that inFAMOUS 2 makes. The first game was decent looking, but inFAMOUS 2 is beautiful. Environments and the city of New Marais look great and are nicely varied as well. What’s even better is that the environments are destructible, to an extent. The biggest problem I had with the graphics in the first game was the stiff and jerky movements of the characters, this is for the most part gone and everything in inFAMOUS 2 feels fluid. Certain story moments are still told with still animated comic book like shots, while this gives the game a nice comic book like feel I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did in the first game.
Voice acting is decent across the board, the main characters all do a respectable job and the new voice actor for Cole is much better, mostly because Cole doesn’t sound like he has a throat full of gravel anymore. What really blew me away though was the soundtrack, and this may actually be my favorite part of inFAMOUS 2. The music has a great sound to it, and is surprisingly varied. As I played the game I found myself immediately wanting to buy the soundtrack, which doesn’t happen very often.
Sucker Punch should be incredibly proud of the work they did with this sequel to an already great exclusive. inFAMOUS 2 does a ton to improve upon the first game, and turns out to one of the best gaming experiences available this year. A memorable story and characters, engaging superpower game play, and great soundtrack all combine to make this one great game. If you own a PS3 you should definitely not miss inFAMOUS 2 or its predecessor, and if you don’t own PS3 you might want to think about picking one up for games like inFAMOUS 2.