Sunday, June 12, 2011

Infamous 2 Review - Twice as Bright

Score: 8.75/10

Infamous 2
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 7th, 2011

  • Improved melee combat makes close quarters battles much more enjoyable
  • Massive explosions and the "Vortex" power reinforce visuals that are stunning
  • User Creation tools leave infinite possibilities and replay value
  • Morality that shapes your powers as you progress 
  • On-the-fly Power switching to adapt to any situation
  • Morality is very straight forward, with rarely questionable decisions
  • User Creation is quite complex, and can take some time to figure out
  • Pedestrians get in the way more often than not
  • Camera sometimes works against you in close quarters

Infamous was that game on PS3 that everyone who owned the console needed to experience. It was the one game where I felt like a superhero; dropping off the tops of buildings 40 ft. in the air, tossing cars like they were rocks, and gliding in to send baddies running. It was a blast of a title, and a sequel was hinted at to continue the story. Infamous 2 takes the formula of the first and improves on it, making for a thrilling sequel to this PS3 exclusive.

New Town, New Start

Infamous 2 picks up right after the story of the first, in which Cole finds himself preparing for battle against a unknown entity of evil simply dubbed, "The Beast". After a brief confrontation, he realizes that he needs more powers in order to stop The Beast from continuing his rampage. To gain more powers he heads to the town of New Marais where upon arriving, he realizes that The Beast could be the least of his concerns. 

I had to go back and play a few rounds of the first game to realize the huge difference Infamous 2 brings. The most obvious being the visual look of the game. The city is much more vibrant and unique this time around, with bright colors and New Orleans inspired architecture to mix up the typical New York city square building layout. Character models are much more detailed, from Cole's buzz cut right down to the pedestrians facial expressions as they run in fear. The visual enhancement is most noticeable in the explosions and electricity used in combat, as they are always a satisfying sight to behold with flashes of bright color and smoke following your destruction.

Though the story lacked the big surprise of the first game, it did hold your attention. The first game was all about the mystery of identities and how Cole attained his power. With much of it answered already, it became a more simplistic storyline of just gaining more power because you have to kill The Beast. The ending did have one of the more interesting turns in morality, but the rest of the game is laid out in front of you in an expected manner.

Violence with Voltage

Traversing the city to get from place to place has been made easier. Cole moves quicker, climbs a bit faster, and even has a few powers specifically for getting to the rooftops. The Thrusters in particular give a bit more of a vertical push and carry you much farther. It's a small thing, but getting from place to place has become much less of an issue.

Missions have a bit more variety this time. Though some of the side content can repeat, there is enough difference between them to influence a few trips off-track to gain some additional experience. The main story missions offer the typical skirmishes with a few memorable boss encounters. Though nothing really stuck with me as a mission I wished I could replay immediately, they were engaging and entertaining enough to carry the story forward.

Enemies vary greatly from group to group, and actually require a change in strategy on the tougher difficulties. There are typical foot soldiers, melee monsters, big monsters that have a health bar, and even ice infused military troops. Each attacks differently, and requires you to do a bit of thinking before charging into the hail of bullets.

Cole's Powers feel the same with some added tweaks, but it's the melee combat that has truly taken a turn for the better. Cole now carries a tuning fork inspired melee weapon that he can bash thugs in the head with to build up a combo meter. When the meter hits a certain point, a "finisher" can be used to down the baddie for good. The end result is always satisfying, and offers incentive to get up close and personal.

"Ultimate" attacks have been altered to have their own expenses. Instead of draining all of your voltage they take a separate energy, which drops off of random baddies. This overabundance encourages you to use them at your leisure, and the result of a Vortex tossing bad guys and cars in midst of an explosion is the best part of the game.

The Angel/Devil on My Shoulder 

Like the previous installment, morality plays a part in story and powers. Decisions you make push you towards good or evil alignment, which in turn affect what you can do. The decisions are pretty straight forward, especially with your two new AI buddies whispering in your ear. Kuo influences the good decisions and Nix ends up backing most of the bad decisions. They even pop in to assist in combat, trapping baddies while you zap them for the desired effect. It was a welcome sight to have them along on a few missions, and keep some of the heat off of me for a moment.

Halfway through the game, your alignment will augment your current powers; ice for good and fire for evil. Each tree proves satisfying and one does not seem better than the other. It's a nice break from the typical electricity powers to gain a new element to try out. The ice/good path offers much more defensive abilities, with the fire/evil path offering some truly devastating explosive powers. Some of the powers feel like a missed opportunity, and a combination of elements would have been a nice touch.

You're in my World Now!

A new feature to the Infamous world is the User Generated Content. These are accessed in the world themselves, just like picking up a sidequest. You are thrown into anyone's newly created mission. These can range from Gang Wars to Races to Escort missions.

The possibilities are endless in what you can create. After diving into the mode, there is a huge library of enemies and objects to place in the world. You can modify how much Health Cole has, Script events like a cutscene playing out, or just throw a ton of bad guys next to explosives and title it "Have Fun".

Though a fun idea, the game lacks any tutorial or instruction on how to create your ideal mission. The only real way to learn is to edit existing missions or go into a blank template and play around yourself. I spent about a good 2-3 hours just dropping stuff in and playing around with it before I understood how it all worked. If you want to make a truly good mission, it will take quite a lot of time.


Infamous 2 is a vast improvement over the original, fine-tuning and refining the game to play out faster and easier. Controls feel smoothed out, the city is a delight to explore, and the game itself just feels like a fix of the original. I can already tell the User Generated levels will pile up like Little Big Planet, and cannot wait to explore what people create. It's a game that you finish, and immediately want to play again on the other alignment just to see what you missed.

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