Geek Review: Infamous 2
Last Updated on Saturday, 10 September 2011 06:51 Written by LoganDX Friday, 24 June 2011 02:00
Ahh Infamous, one of a small handful of PS3-only franchises that makes me proud of owning the gigantic Sony system. I might be a bit of a Sucker Punch fanboy, I loved Sly Cooper and was slightly miffed when they announced their first PS3 game was not Sly 4. Once the teaser trailer for Infamous popped up on the net, I quickly changed my mind. Infamous was one of the better examples of a super-hero video game to come along. Was it without its problems? Of course not, no game is truly “perfect”. With the release of Infamous 2, did Sucker Punch fix some of those nagging problems or is more of the same ole, same ole? A note of caution: there are a few Infamous spoilers ahead.
If you played the first game then you know how the sequel was set up but if not let me give a few notes to catch you up. Cole McGrath’s adventures in Empire City pushed his fledgling powers to the max as he attempted to make sense of everything happening around him. Every action Cole took pushed him closer to a final confrontation with the mysterious Kessler, the insane mastermind behind the bomb that granted Cole his electricity based super powers. The end battle reveals that Kessler is actually a future version of Cole, a version that has witnessed the decimation of Empire City by the enigmatic being known as The Beast. Kessler has traveled to his past to prepare his younger self to take down the Beast before that happens.
Infamous 2 opens shortly after the end of Infamous. Cole is set to depart Empire City for New Marais, a fictionalized New Orleans, to meet with Dr. Wolfe, a scientist who knows plenty about the Ray Sphere that blessed Cole with his powers. The good doctor claims he can help Cole amplify his powers and combat the Beast before it’s too late. Joining Cole for the ride will be his ever present bud, Zeke and NSA Agent Lucy Kuo. Before the unlikely trio can exit Empire City, the Beast arrives. What follows is a painful reminder that Cole is not even remotely close to being ready for this battle. Cole and friends must run away and watch helplessly as the Beast reduces Empire City to rubble.
The trio’s arrival in New Marais showcases one of the many differences between the first and second games. Whereas Empire City was controlled by three rival gangs, New Marais is dominated by a single faction, a Militia controlled by a wealthy industrialist named Bertrand. It’s made abundantly clear the Miltia and Bertrand have bigger plans than to just protect the city from the looming threat. As Cole begins his quest, players need to adapt to the new city. There is still plenty of buildings to climb and rooftops to explore but the city is definitely different. It’s not a bad thing, the series needs a new venue to test out Cole’s abilities. I wish Sucker Punch could have added more variety to the citizens because they felt more like transposed Empire City dwellers then new folks. The second half of the island, dubbed Flood Town, is a watery mess that can quickly spell game over for Cole if players aren’t careful. The wreckage of this catastrophe torn section of the city may be more dangerous but that makes the exploring that much more exciting.
When Cole jumps into battle, the best addition is showcased. Zeke crafted a melee weapon to harness Cole’s powers, affectionately dubbed the Amp. Something that was sorely lacking in the previous title was an effective way to properly battle hand to hand. With the inclusion of the Amp, these fights are much more enjoyable and adds some satisfying THUNKs to combat. Sadly though, fights still end up being more hit and run than mega-awesome-super fights. Cole is very vulnerable to bullets and fists so you must bail out and refill his health by draining juice from various electrical sources. I really had hoped that sequel would have a more resilient protagonist, one that made fighting a fun affair instead of the tedium it became. I often found myself avoiding fights just to keep exploring, just to avoid the repetition of combat. Cole’s powers, both the ones he has and the ones he acquires, are a delightful distraction and add a decent amount of variety to taking down the Miltia meat puppets.
The overall story I felt was a more cohesive structure than the previous. Infamous was an origin story and it dealt with Cole and his quest to understand. Understand why and what, who and where. The sequel has a more defined vision of why Cole must do what he’s doing. Every main mission has an end point in mind, Cole must become more powerful, must defeat the Beast. It’s not ambiguous, nor is it vague and I like it. The fight against Bertrand and what he has to hide is a great section of the story and further enhances who Cole is. Just like the first game, there are a couple twists in the plot but I of course won’t be giving those away. The story also plays on the tension between Cole and Zeke. Zeke, who betrayed Cole in the original game, is looking for forgiveness from his bud and also some measure of redemption.
The morality from the first game is back with a better spin. As with the original, Cole can become a Hero or Infamous. To help Cole along his path, Sucker Punch introduces a new character named Nix. Nix is a super powered being like Cole but she’s full of anger and rage. Following her will lead Cole down the dark side and making him Infamous. Without spoiling the story, another character will be there to keep Cole on the side of right. This character wants Cole to become the Hero they feel he is. Following them will help Cole become a Hero. Along the way, the player has chances to interact with the local populace. Good guys can help stop muggings, defuse bombs or heal sick citizens. Bad boys can “harass” protesters or knock the crap out of street performers. The latter comes at the request of Zeke, he really has a mad on for those people. Save people or slaughter them, they all add Karma points to help Cole unlock new abilities.
So what didn’t I like? A few things mostly minor except for one thing. Cole’s ability to auto grab any handhold when climbing is good but it begins to become cumbersome at times. I like to sneak up on enemies and jump down swinging my Mighty Amp of Justice on their heads, however Cole sometimes ends up grabbing something and throwing off my plans. If a bad guy spots him, he ends up being vulnerable to their gunfire and loses the element of surprise. Very frustrating indeed. Besides the Militia, Cole will become a target of violence from vicious swamp creatures. What bothers me about them is they look and act too similar to the “Freaks” from Crackdown 2. They look alike, attack alike and they both are vulnerable to UV lights. Some of the bigger creatures are more varied but are frustrating battles of attrition. Heat seeking spit? Really? And the pedestrians, do they ever know how to get in the way! I played my first run through as a Hero and I lost plenty of positive Karma points to them running between the baddie and myself. The most minor thing was the new cut scenes. I would have preferred the original’s comic book style cuts over the new fully animated ones. Maybe it’s just me but they were off putting.
Minor irritations aside, Infamous 2 is a worthy addition to the PS3 library. Maybe if Sucker Punch hammers out some of those minor points, the (hopeful) sequel will be legendary. My rating would be – Buy, before the eventual sale.