Genre: Action Developer: Publisher: Classification: M Release Date: 9th Jun 2011 Platforms:
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inFAMOUS 2 is the follow up to the successful PlayStation 3 open world super-hero/supervillain game inFAMOUS, fairly obviously. Developed by Sucker Punch, inFAMOUS put you in the shoes of Cole MacGrath, a young man who wakes at the centre of an explosion with electricity based superpowers.
Throughout the course of inFAMOUS, Cole finds out what has happened to him and why it has happened - and finds out he is destined to save the world from a terrifyingly powerful force known as The Beast. inFAMOUS implemented a karma system which impacted how citizens reacted towards you and also how the game ended.
inFAMOUS 2 begins with a question - a question a lot of games have been asking recently - Do you want to import your save of inFAMOUS - Good Karma, inFAMOUS - Bad Karma or start a New Game? Naturally, it only gives you these options if you have the save data available - if you have never played the first game you won't have anything to import.
The save data influences the game in different ways depending on what exactly you accomplished. On my Good Karma save (which I used for my first playthrough) I had completed all side quests and was the nicest lightning man on the planet. This gave me bonus XP and a bonus to my Good Karma from the beginning - along with directly influencing the storyline depending on actions I took during the previous game.
The game itself begins with Cole leaving his hometown of Empire City for New Marais - where he has a lead on a way to strengthen himself, only to be accosted by The Beast on his way out. The Beast rams home the fact that Cole is nowhere near powerful enough to defeat him quite literally, increasing Cole's resolve to be all he can be.
Getting to New Marais (As Empire City was to New York, New Marais is to New Orleans) Cole's chubby friend Zeke comments on how much fun they had in the city back before the city was hit by a disaster - no doubt the inFAMOUS universe's equivalent of Hurricane Katrina.
This sets you up for the city you are about to explore perfectly. As with Empire City in the first game, New Marais is divided into three sections - one of which still rebuilding from the devastating effects of the disaster which hit it. The other two are an industrial district and an area more in common with the New Orleans of old - it's this area where the inFAMOUS 2 story begins.
Cole left Empire City in a weakened state, although thankfully Sucker Punch didn't strip him of all of his powers. Cole still zaps along power lines and flings enemies and small objects into the swamp with his shockwave, but he is missing a few of his more deadly powers.
Allowing Cole to keep his core movement abilities like power line grinding and his thrusters was a great move by the developers - while neither are necessary to successfully play the game, one of the biggest problems faced by any game in which you begin weak and finish strong is how to keep the protagonist interesting in the sequel without neutering him entirely. Allowing Cole to zip and glide from power line to power line gives returning players the exhilaration of speed and freedom they felt by the end of the first inFAMOUS, while successfully stripping them of god-like destructive abilities.
Cole came to New Marais to get stronger however - and he most certainly does. Turning the cities power grids back on is no longer necessary, instead Cole absorbs Blast Cores to gain more strength and powers. It seems though, Blast Cores are significantly better than turning on power grids as far as ability gain goes, because Cole gets stacks of them.
Instead of having one kind of electricity bolt, Cole eventually gains access to 7, all with different uses. The Artillery Bolt is good for long range for example, lobbing electricity in an arc over a much greater distance than other bolts can manage. The Bolt Stream on the other hand, is more suited for when you are outnumbered, as it fires a continuous stream of bolts as long as you hold down R1.
Cole changes through his abilities on the fly by holding the left d-pad and tapping the button associated with each power. Holding left on the d-pad and tapping square will cycle through your various grenade types for example, so if you want to slam a big enemy with a Sticky Grenade, then lay down the fire with a spread of Cluster Grenades, you can do so without a lot of hassle.
The abilities I've mentioned - the Sticky Grenade and Bolt Stream specifically - can only be attained by characters with Good Karma. While the first game altered your abilities depending on your karmic stance, you now have different abilities to choose from depending on how good or evil you are instead - which are then unlocked by spending experience points and in some cases performing various stunts.
Your Karma still gives you different boosts however, but now they have a more overall effect now. Your first rank in Evil - Thug gives you the Bystander Bonus, which gives you an XP point for killing a civilian, as well as sending you further down the path of eternal damnation. Your first rank in Good however - Guardian - makes civilians resistant to your attacks, a very handy skill to have if you're trying to take out a bunch of crooks in a crowded street.
Which reminds me - if you decide you want to play through the game and then go back and just do the final mission again to see the other ending, be evil. You can't take the evil route if you are good and vice versa - and trying to drop from Hero Karma to evil is a lot of effort when your average citizen takes more of a beating than most of your enemies.
This isn't to say your enemies are weak - although the average minions certainly are by the end of the game. Fortunately you won't just be facing minions by then, instead your enemies will be backed up by the mini bosses of previous levels - giant, ice blasting South Africans looking a lot like a certain enemy of The Dark Knight ($10 says if Junglist reviewed inFAMOUS 2 on the floppy he would say Ice to meet you at least once) tear through you like butter, while giant, armoured, poison spitting mutants put even super-powered, city dominating Cole on the back foot.
In fact, one thing inFAMOUS 2 does better than any other open world game is strike a balance between the sense of accomplishment when you save New Marais and still having a challenge when you fight certain battles. inFAMOUS 2 doesn't constantly throw the mini boss enemies at you, but the enemy occupied parts of the city are not just areas filled with guys who die when you look at them. Once you've liberated the entirety of New Marais, you still won't lack for challenge - thanks to the mission creator.
One of the big selling points Sucker Punch were trying to push was the User Generated Content part of inFAMOUS 2 and honestly, it's pretty great. While for now there are only really a few outstanding missions - created by Sucker Punch no less, the developers have gone all out in showing you what can be done with the editor. Skeeball style mini games, disco street party fights and games of memory are just some of the levels Sucker Punch have put together and they all have their charms. The real selling point of the UGC however, is making missions for yourself.
Having found all the blast shards, dead drops and completed every side mission, inFAMOUS left you with little to do but go around the city being a jerk. It's fun for a while, but lacking structure - and any worthwhile enemies - it got tedious before long. Not anymore. Creating missions takes some getting used to at first, but once you know what you are doing, it's a simple matter to spawn a plethora of enemies of any shape and size and go berserk. Soon you'll find yourself setting up camps of militia and ice guys, watching them duke it out while you move in and then dodging the rockets and ice rays when they both decide you're a better target.
Of course, people won't get to the point where they need UGC if they don't go through the story first - but I don't see a problem with that. The story has a lot less angst this time around and while the voice acting from some of the supporting cast is not always the best, Cole's new voice acting makes inFAMOUS 2 a lot easier to bear.
Cole's voice actor was changed because inFAMOUS 2 uses motion capture to sync facial movements and while some might be disappointed at the change, it is probably one of the best things they could have done in my mind. New Cole has an actual variety of tones he can utilize, which influences conversations dramatically. Take an imaginary line as an example - "That's great advice from you, you fat ass piece of crap." If the old Cole said this to Zeke - and he absolutely would - you would wonder why Zeke hung out with him at all. That's how things go when you growl and sneer your way through life. New Cole saying the same thing however, you understand the brotherly relationship Cole and Zeke have. Perhaps their relationship isn't the best, but it has substance and at least in inFAMOUS 2, Cole doesn't sound like the biggest jerk on the planet.
Which sums up the difference between inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2 quite well actually. The addition of UGC, the less angsty - but still serious - storyline and plethora of new abilities make inFAMOUS 2 a much better game than its predecessor. If you have a PlayStation 3, inFAMOUS 2 is worth your time - even if you didn't enjoy the first game.