by Jeff Gates
reviewed on PS3
From Bikes to Bolts
Often times, developing a sequel to a popular game is tougher than creating an all-new title. There are many expectations of a sequel, namely staying true to what made the original great while improving on any shortcomings. In the first inFamous, developer Sucker Punch crafted an open-world title that gave the player control of Cole MacGrath. Cole, a bike courier in the bustling metropolis of Empire City, had the misfortune of transporting a dangerous device known as the Ray Sphere which detonated and destroyed everything in its vicinity except for him. The device imbued Cole with great powers and gave him seemingly endless control of spectacular electrical abilities. Feeling guilty after the explosion, Cole set out to make things right in spite of the civilians and government agents after him. These choices and many like them shaped the way the game is played. It is quite cliché, but with great power comes great responsibility and the first inFamous welcomed this in the form of karma.
At the onset of inFamous 2, Cole faces off with ‘The Beast’, a massive enemy hell-bent on destroying the eastern seaboard to get to him. Cole is defeated and retreats to the city of New Marais where he is caught in a war between factions and must improve his powers so that his second meeting with ‘The Beast’ won’t be such a short and painful one.
Just as in the original, karma is the most important factor of inFamous 2. The player has the choice of being good or evil by doing any number of things. These include simple decisions like stopping a robbery for good karma or silencing a street performer for bad karma, both of which occur randomly and are not part of primary or secondary missions, as well as major story changing choices. Karmic decisions do, however, carry more weight when associated with a mission. For instance, in one primary mission the player is presented with the option of utilizing the police force to execute a covert operation of sorts to free a friend or go the reckless route and smash a bomb laden vehicle into the front of the complex to free their ally. These choices awarded a large amount of good or evil karma respectively. Due to the fact that there is no real grey area in the story line or karmic options, the game presents it as the player’s duty to determine early on if they wish to be an honorable hero or a selfish menace. Throughout the game, achieving higher levels of either karma rewards you with powers and abilities specific to that path. What this means is that if you allow yourself to play both roles, good and evil, you will never progress to the greater powers needed to defeat increasingly difficult foes. How you shape your karma crafts two distinct endings and two very unique abilities which are bestowed to Cole by one of the two female companions, Kuo and Nix, in the latter half of the game.
The morals of the setting for inFamous 2 are slightly grayer than the narrative that takes place in it. New Marais is an atrocious sea-side party town with more sins than streets. Other than the often drunk and wandering citizens, the city is made up of two competing factions: the “redneck assholes” that form the Militia are keen on kidnapping and robbing the locals and the Corrupted, who are unfortunate citizens transformed into hideous creatures that dwell in the swamps of New Marais. Despite its threatening constitution, the city is ever so pretty.
Simply put, inFamous 2 is ‘shockingly’ gorgeous. The world that Sucker Punch has crafted is perfectly diverse. Other than the devices that are crucial to gameplay, such as transformers and electric lines, the city of New Marais is chock full of variety. Every district and location feels unique from the swamps to the slums and the downtown structures in inFamous 2 are a breath of fresh air in a medium that is visually becoming all too linear. inFamous 2’s cut scenes are wonderful comic book style films that accentuate the super hero essence of the game. The art style of the gameplay is less striking, but still quite distinct, and is by no means boring to look at while lighting up the locals. The textures and colors pop much better than the first inFamous and it all runs very smoothly with no noticeable drop in framerate. In fact, outside of an occasionally wonky camera, there is little disturbance in the way of the games display. Something earning many brownie points for inFamous 2, is the lack of any loading screens. Approximately 30 seconds from the moment you put it in the console, inFamous 2 drops you into the action. Re-spawning is also a quick and painless experience because, while still punishing you for failing, it does so without costing the player too much progress.
Really two games for one, you will come back for more, creating missions adds a lot of replay
Boring platforming mechanics, sometimes uneventful sounds