inFAMOUS 2 Review
InFAMOUS was pretty good. inFAMOUS 2 is better.
The difference is one seemingly small addition to the game that completely changes the way it plays. That addition: real melee combat. Early in inFAMOUS 2 Cole is given a metal stick that Zeke calls an Amp with which Cole can pound folks over the head and do cool combos. Switching between ranged and melee attacks is seamless; you just hit square to pull out the Amp and start swinging, and then hit L1 again to pull out your electric arm and start firing off bolts again.
Thanks to this change, the game’s battles are frantic furballs the likes of which inFAMOUS can’t touch. Sucker Punch has found the sweet spot for its battles, and it just feels so damn good to fight in this game.
inFAMOUS 2 (PS3 [Reviewed])
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 07, 2011
Also improved are the powers Cole obtains over the course of the game. In the original title, I never really found myself excited about a new power, but it happened several times in inFAMOUS 2. I can spawn a mini tornado? Badass. Shoot myself up into the air with super ice power? Awesome. Lightning rockets? Oh yeah. A “lightning tether” that lets me swing around New Marais like I’m Peter Parker? F–k yeah. I’d actually get excited about gaining new powers, and I don’t get excited about anything.
The game’s other big improvement is to the climbing mechanics. Climbing still amounts to pressing X over and over to hop up the side of a building, but you aren’t going to encounter nearly so many obstacles in your way; for the most part, climbing works extremely well and is not the painful experience it sometimes was in the first game. It isn’t perfect, and you’ll often yourself climbing things you don’t mean to climb, but it’s still massively improved.
inFAMOUS 2 takes Cole to New Orleans analog New Marais in hopes of working with one of the creators of the ray sphere to become powerful enough to defeat “The Beast” that Kessler warned him about at the end of the first game after it destroys Empire City. The city is on lockdown thanks to a recent influx of people with crab claw arms in the surrounding bayou, and a militia of redneck caricatures are running things now. Cole must fight through these guys — and, later, a South African private military force armed with ice powers — as he scours the city for ray sphere blast cores so he can power up in order to… don’t worry about it.
The story is convoluted and silly and poorly told, with key plot points occurring just because. Take the plague, which Cole learns has come to New Marais three quarters of the way through the game even though it’s been an epidemic in the city and the whole eastern US since before Cole got there. That particular point is representative of how clumsily Sucker Punch handles the plot in this game.
New Marais is a unique place in the realm of open world video games; it’s run down, grungy, very much not slick. Part of the city is flooded, and this section, Floodtown, is a remarkable piece of world design and a joy to play in even with water being harmful to Cole. Really, Floodtown teaches you to love the water and use it as a weapon; I lost count of how many times I stepped in the water in order to kill an enemy.
I can’t talk about this game without a nuanced discussion of the nuanced “morality system” in the game. Morality is de-emphasized this time, with few big moral decisions to make and with most of he choices that there are having some nuance, at least in comparison with the first game. This time, rather than the options being between screw over a bunch of people for no reason or don’t, the decisions are about “Do I care about collateral damage?” For the most part, anyway.
The game features something called “User-Generated Content.” This takes the form of custom missions players can create, and the range of possibilities is impressive; you can make something that looks like a normal side mission or something totally unique, like a timed race across rooftops through a series of rings or a platforming level, although the controls are a bit too slippery for the platforming stuff to be super fun.
The creation tools are pretty simple to use if not quite intuitive, and there’s a nice crop of content on there already available for play. It’s integrated awkwardly, though. You select a series of filters and the game selects a bunch of UGC for you and places the markers for them around the city. It’d have been nice to have the option to use a menu-based system.
I’ve used the terms “better” and “for the most part” several times in this review, and I think those two terms sum up inFAMOUS 2 well. It’s not perfect, and it’s not quite a great game, but it’s better than its predecessor and for the most part very good. It’s a game with plenty of enjoyable content, and it’s one you won’t regret buying. It is, quite simply, a good time.
- Brilliantly balanced combat
- More nuanced morality
- User-generated content
- Lovely new powers
- Story is clumsy