Crank Up the Voltage with inFAMOUS 2
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Sucker Punch Productions’ inFAMOUS 2, sequel to the highly acclaimed inFAMOUS, picks up a few months after the events of the original game. The story follows the electric super-powered Cole MacGrath as he develops and refines his powers granted to him by the ‘ray sphere’, a bomb that he was tasked with delivering in the first game. The Beast that was alluded to in inFAMOUS arrives, drains Cole’s powers and destroys Empire City. The game’s pace never slows down and keeps the player interested and motivated to continue.
After a few events in which Cole’s powers are drained, you are taken to the fictional southern city of New Marais for some R&R. However, the city is not exactly a walk in the park: it’s a desolate place that is overrun by poverty, disease, and a local Militia (who are none too happy with Cole). Here, Cole and his best friend and sidekick, Zeke, search for ways to regain Cole’s powers, while also looking for the man who can help him defeat the Beast.
In inFAMOUS 2, we are thrown into a veritable sandbox which makes it obvious that this game has come a long way since its predecessor. The game has been improved upon in terms of graphics, gameplay, mission variety and the scope of powers you can use. In this third-person open-world adventure, players are now able to create their own missions from “scratch”, or by using one of the many templates provided. You can then upload the missions and have others play and rate them. The missions you can create can be very complex and are comprised of items you can drag and drop from place to place. You are given the map of New Marais and are able to create sequences of events with items you have unlocked up until the point in the game you have reached. Some of the items you can drag and manipulate are enemies, triggers for events and music. The amount of items you can place in a mission has its limits but you are able to create much larger missions than those in the game itself. The mission creation tool can be used to make very intricate missions involving surviving a certain length of time or finding items in the city or racing around New Marais or killing a certain enemy et cetera. The possibilities for creating your own missions are nearly infinite.
Another key feature behind inFAMOUS 2 is that it is the player’s choice to either follow a path of darkness or light. For example, players can choose to be the hero of New Marais (by doing good deeds such as saving citizens from muggings) or an infamous villain by acting out nefarious deeds like killing police officers. Playing either side can be fun, depending on your style of play, but be warned: the choices you make in the game will affect how you are viewed by citizens and how they’ll react to you. For instance, while progressing through the evil route, people on the street will stone and attack you, whereas if you decided to take the good route, citizens will help you attack your enemies and even take them down for you. During all the free-play, it is very easy to max out your evil or good karma early on in the game. Your karma determines which powers you have access to and, unlike inFAMOUS, specific actions effect which powers you gain throughout the game. As you can imagine, this opens a world of possibilities, and makes the game very engaging.
The game play is very fluid and well-paced. The monotony of the game can be broken in a myriad of ways: you can do side missions, collect blast shards to increase your power meter, create your own missions or download other players’ generated missions. The powers available to Cole are highly variable and can cater to different players’ gaming styles, allowing for unique game play experiences.
Cole has access to the regular Electric Shock (basically his version of a gun), grenades, an electric pushing ability, and a storm-creating ability called Ionic Storm. Each of these powers is further divided into subsets that allow you to customize your style of play to sniping or close range attack. Some new powers included within inFAMOUS 2 are a long range Electric Shock, a multidirectional Electric Shock, a grenade launcher ability and the ability to levitate an object and throw it (much like using Force Push in Star Wars: Force Unleashed). The physics of the game are much improved when it comes to the powers you can use, and the forces acting on the powers requires not only an aim and shoot method of play, but a small understanding of “bullet drop”. For example, when Cole fires a bolt of electricity it is affected by gravity and you have to compensate at greater distances.
The game’s graphics are good, but inFAMOUS 2 is not the most visually stunning game out there. The scenery varies well from area to area, with different buildings that are unique and often awe inspiring. Also, the characters are more life-like in appearance than in the first inFAMOUS game. However, some characters that you need to talk to for side missions look absurd, with fake and sometimes awkward features, such as a giant-sized Super Mario moustache, whereas other characters may look completely unremarkable.
Furthermore, there is a good amount of variety of enemies that we encounter throughout the game. Although in some areas the enemies all look exactly the same, the way they react to Cole differs from enemy to enemy. Some enemies will now distract you while others flank and attack you from behind. The bosses are bigger and better in inFAMOUS 2, and the damage they inflict on the city causes the player to feel a real sense of urgency in handling the bosses. However, one gripe I have is that once you defeat a Boss, all damage it caused to the area is erased, and the environment returns to its previous condition as though the boss never even existed. inFAMOUS 2 is very attractive, especially in comparison to inFAMOUS, but it is not without noticeable flaws. For instance, when Cole is using bio leech (a power that effectively kills the victim) on an enemy, you’ll suddenly notice Cole`s standing frozen inside a wall for a short time until you are “pushed” out of the wall. Also, your allies’ can stretch, while using stationary weapons (i.e. mortars), if you run by them and push them away from the weapon. I noticed one man’s arms were stretched more than three times his height while he was holding a stationary gun. Since the game hit shelves only one month ago, at the time of writing, I am sure there will be a patch to fix these small issues.
Finally, we have come to the topic of sound, which has been the most disappointing aspect of inFAMOUS 2 by far. The voice actor for Cole is different from the original and he doesn’t do the role of Cole any justice. Most of the main voice actors in the game are passable (but only barely), and the sound effects are sometimes completely off (i.e. jumping onto glass sounds exactly the same as jumping onto concrete). However, there are some redeeming sound qualities as well. For example, many of the NPCs walking around react well to your presence with little quips about killing you if you are evil or how you are their saviour if you are good. Also, the sound effects for Cole’s powers are amazing and sound as accurate as you would think a bolt of lightning hitting a man, water, a pole or helicopter should.
Overall, inFAMOUS 2 is a remarkable game, aside from the small graphical glitches and the major mistake in choice of main voice actor. At times, the stark contrast in Cole’s voice actor gave the impression that this game’s protagonist was unrelated to the ‘original’ version of himself. The ability to create and play your own or others’ missions adds to the replay value, as does the ability to choose to be good or evil. Despite my gripes, I thoroughly enjoy this game and would recommend it to anyone who likes sandbox adventure games.
This game receives a 3.75/5.0.
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