In May 2009 Sucker Punch Productions released Infamous to widespread critical acclaim. Offering a new spin on the classic everyman gifted with powers premise, players followed Cole MacGrath as he struggled to find the answer to the question of “why him?” Taking place one month after the events of the original, Infamous 2 finds Cole on his way to the New Orleans inspired New Marais on the quest for new powers and the strength to fulfill his destiny. Does the sequel fulfill its destiny by surpassing the original?
Game: Infamous 2
Platform: Playstation 3
Difficulty Played: Medium (Good)/Hard (Evil)
Infamous 2 keeps much of what worked in the original. An open world, Item collecting, experience gaining, a steady progression of powers, can all be found here as well. Everything is new and familiar at the same time. While the first game offered some enclosed environments, the sequel is one hundred percent open world. Cole still has the ability to climb up the sides of buildings and propel himself along cables as well as a limited hover. As was present in the first game Cole will gravitate toward objects while jumping and gliding allowing for very few missteps. While this can pose a problem when attempting more precise movements or navigating through gaps it definitely beats the alternative.
Powers are still accessed through L1 and the face buttons as well as the R buttons. Ranged combat is still the main means of attack with varying weapon like constructs such as grenades making their return. Melee combat is now enhanced by a new weapon dubbed “the amp.” Mashing the square button allows Cole to swing and smack enemies with a satisfying amount of spark and impact. Throughout the game, these powers can be enhanced and evolved by spending XP.
Like the first game, XP is rewarded for completing missions, defeating enemies, as well as collecting “blast shards” and “dead drops” scattered throughout the world. Again similar to the first game, blast shards can be found embedded all over the environment. None are hard to reach and collecting enough will allow Cole to store more energy as well as providing small bits of XP. Cole is able to use a radar sense with L3which shows the blast shards on the minimap for a short period. Unlike the first game, there is no indication as to where the dead drops can be found. They are now strapped to the legs of carrier pigeons which fly around set buildings around the map. As you approach one of these areas, a bird can be seen on the minimap. As with the first game, these drops provide back story as well as XP.
Mission markers are spread around the map and can be accessed at anytime. The entire game world serves as a hub. Along with the story missions, there are unique and varied side missions on offer. Not only do they provide XP for purchasing powers, completing set numbers of side missions is a requirement for accessing enhancements. There are also random events that pop up as you navigate through the world. Unfortunately, there is only a handful. Despite the limited variety, they are generally easy to complete and provide quick hits of XP as well as Karma points.
Every one of the random events is skewed to either make you more evil or more heroic on the Karma scale. Karma affects everything from how you are perceived by citizens, to your appearance, to your power set, and ultimately which ending. Disappointingly, as in the first game, there are no gray areas. You are either committed to being good or evil. Both story missions and side missions offer unique branches depending on your alignment. Playing both sides is the only way to see and experience everything.
New to the sequel is user generated content. This is a mission editor that populates the game world with an infinite number of missions created by other players of the game. The offering is a mixed bag but filters and a rating system aid in finding quality. This solves one of the key problems games in this genre face. You never have to worry about what to do after the story because new missions will always be piped in.
The game is very impressive graphically. The quality goes up depending on how much is displayed on screen. There is a definite increase in sharpness to Cole’s model when he is standing at the very top of a radio tower versus running around at street level. The world is populated by npc citizens who will cheer or jeer depending on your alignment. A steady flow of traffic fills the streets as well. Peppered randomly throughout are roving bands of the different factions which will engage you or each other. There is a limited destructibility to the environments as well. Balconies and fuel tanks can be exploded and collapsed and cars can be blown up and launched. All of this is accomplished with no loading times. You can run from one end of the city to the other seamlessly. A loading screen will only be presented at death and this is only for a second or less.
Infamous 2 presents much of what made its predecessor great. Unfortunately, there is not enough new to convert anyone who was not impressed by the Cole’s first outing. For fans of the first game, this is more than enough. For those who were put off, there is nothing here that will change their minds. For those new to the series, it is probably better to start with the first. The story will make more sense and will add more weight to the proceedings. If you are left with a wanting for more the sequel will always be there and the user generated content will ensure you never have enough.