inFamous 2 PlayStation 3
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
It would have been a safe option for developers Sucker Punch to have simply given us a fourth Sly Raccoon game for their debut title on the PlayStation 3. Instead they were more daring and gave us something new: inFamous, an open-world action game. The game allowed you to play as either a superhero or a super villain. In inFamous you played as a delivery man, Cole MacGrath, who unwittingly delivered a bomb which managed to take out a good piece of Empire City. A plague spread through the city and gangs run riot due to there being no law enforcement to bring order to the chaos. In a bizarre twist Cole acquired the ability to shoot bolts of electricity from the explosion and had the choice of helping the people of Empire City or making their lives more unbearable. Help was certainly needed however as others acquired super powers and most certainly appeared not to want to make the situation any better.
The storyline in inFamous 2 carries on from the original game. The action begins with Cole having to deal with an attack from the Beast which was mentioned in the first game as coming to Empire City and who Cole was supposed to be preparing himself to defeat. Cole manages to deal a serious amount of damage to the Beast and drains his powers in the process. The only negative is that the Beast manages to repair himself and continue on his path of destruction. As a result of this confrontation Cole decides that he's not strong enough and needs to find someone who can help him increase his powers so that he can finally take down the Beast for good. Cole, Zeke and Kuo head to New Marais in search of help. The storyline this time around isn't as enjoyable as it was in inFamous but it does manage to conclude the story and not leave you waiting for a sequel.
At its core inFamous 2 is very similar to inFamous in regards to the combat you'll engage in, the moral decisions you'll have to make and the ability to acquire new powers. There's a fair amount of platform game elements here too and you'll find that Cole can make light work of scaling even the tallest buildings and happily grind along the various cables that conveniently go from one building to another. The platform game elements are enjoyable and fairly straightforward thanks to responsive controls. As a nice bonus this time around a mission creator has been included and this allows you to create your own missions and share your efforts with others (and play their missions too, of course). It's far from being a significant addition but it certainly allows you to extend the life of the game somewhat.
By the second half of the game Cole will have become incredibly powerful but the game certainly does not become a cakewalk. In fact it becomes just the opposite and the enemies increase both in number and in their aggressiveness making the challenge much more frustrating than in the first half of the game. As a result of this, the game goes from being highly enjoyable to downright frustrating at times even though the checkpoints in the game do tend to be generous in not making you have to backtrack too far. I'm all for the difficulty increasing, particularly as Cole becomes so powerful, but when the answer to that is to have many more enemies that seem to come at you from all directions it just feels like a really cheap way to slow down your progress in the game.
What's so annoying about the aforementioned problem is that the combat in the game can be a lot of fun thanks to the range of abilities that Cole has at his disposal. Certainly for the first half of the game you feel as though you always have plenty of options in how to tackle enemies and that helps to make the combat very enjoyable. Cole will acquire an impressive range of powers during the course of the game. Various types of blasts, bolts, grenades, rockets, miscellaneous and ionic powers will all be acquired and help to make Cole incredibly powerful. In addition upgrades for Cole's health, karmic boosts and Amp upgrades (the Amp being Cole's melee weapon) can all be earned. To supplement the electrical-based powers that he has, Cole can get his hands on some ice powers if he's a hero and fire powers if he chooses to be a villain. With such an arsenal of power at your disposal the combat is particularly enjoyable.
As in the original inFamous, you'll have a choice of earning good and evil karma by carrying out good and evil actions. The choice to use your more powerful attacks and maybe make use of the explosive materials (that seem to be carelessly left around) to wipe out everyone (including innocent bystanders) in an effortless fashion or to try and pick off the enemies without hurting the innocent but at a greater risk to Cole is one you'll have to make at various points in the game. You'll also have the option to take additional objectives in which it's possible to help others if you want to do so. Whilst it's good to have these good and evil choices and see what the results of them are, it's a shame that everything is so black and white. I always appreciate when moral choices in a game can sometimes give unexpected results as it makes the whole thing much more enjoyable. Sadly it's all too predictable in inFamous 2.
Graphically inFamous 2 is a big improvement and it's clear that Sucker Punch have managed to wring a lot more out of the PlayStation 3 hardware this time around. Visually the game is very impressive both from a stylistic perspective and from a performance one too. Even when pandemonium is breaking out all around Cole with explosions going off everywhere, the frame rate remains smooth. The game's cut scenes use both the in-game engine and graphic novel style visuals, the latter of which actually looks very good.
On starting the game for the first time you are simply given the option to start a new game. Thankfully you can press the triangle button to enable subtitles so you won't miss out on any of the dialogue. You're shown who is communicating with you when Cole receives messages although there are no names alongside the dialogue to make it crystal clear who is saying what (this is rarely problematic however). The edges of the screen are lashed with blood when Cole is hurt and the colour will drain from the screen leaving you with a black and white view of the action. Objectives are shown in text. Pressing the select button will bring up the map which not only reminds you what your next objective is but also where it is. One complaint I do have is that occasionally you'll be up against a time limit and there's no visual display of this until the final ten seconds which isn't long enough. All of the peripheral dialogue in the game isn't subtitled and there aren't any captions for explosions, cries of anguish and other sounds. This is of no real importance but it does mean you'll miss out on some of the game's ambience which is a shame.
inFamous 2 in some respects is impressive but it doesn't make quite the same impact as the original game, not because it's a similar experience but because whilst there have been improvements made from the original inFamous, some aspects of the game are not as enjoyable. The storyline isn't as satisfying and the combat during the second half of the game feels unfair at times with the amount of enemies you have to deal with. Graphically the game is significantly better than inFamous and the inclusion of a mission editor is welcome. Essentially it's still a very enjoyable game and we can only hope for another title in the series that manages to combine the best aspects of both inFamous and inFamous 2 into something really special.