Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
2.8GB required hard drive space
480p/720p HD video output
Design your own missions and share them on PSN
New powers based on electricity, fire and ice
Includes early access to the Uncharted 3 MP beta
Two years after the release of the original Infamous, Sucker Punch is back with the sequel to what was a very good game. Set in a new environment, and boasting a revamped powers system, Infamous 2 plays it pretty safe and sticks to the original formula of the first. This can be either a blessing or a curse. Let's find out which category Infamous 2 falls into.
The visuals have definitely been amped up from the original, but surprisingly Infamous 2 maxes out at 720p only. If find this disappointing for a Sony exclusive title. If you want to get really critical, there's a lot of jaggies if you stop and take a close look around. I imagine this is done to keep things moving smoothly on screen. The city is extremely detailed with a lot of life and a great draw distance, and Infamous 2 handles it all with nary a hitch. At first I thought New Marais looked a little too similar to Empire City. Boy was I wrong. Stop for a second, look around and appreciate the visuals. The architecture of the various wards is fantastic. New areas such as marshy swamps are a nice divergence from the city environments of the first game. It really keeps things fresh. Everything is really detailed as well with a ton of citizens and traffic throughout the city. There are also some great particle effects, particularly the smoke trails from rockets that impressed me with their thickness and density.
Good voice acting and a great soundtrack really highlight things when it comes to the game's sound. There's a ton of dialogue and it's all well done, even Zeke (I'm no fan). Normally when I don't notice a game's soundtrack too much I take it as a sign of it being good. From time to time though (Uncharted and Halo come to mind) the soundtrack stands out. There are some notable moments where the score increases the drama, tension and intensity in Infamous 2. It is really well done. Playing the game with surround sound headphones showed off a lot of the details that might be lost if you're just playing it through a regular stereo or home theatre hookup.
Before I go any further with this section of this review I have t say that by if you're considering playing this one and haven't played (or finished) the original Infamous, do yourself a favour and get through that one first. Other than the fact it's a great game, the original has one of the best endings and will really help to set up the basis for the second game. Ok, enough about that, let me warn you that from here on in there are some minor spoilers ahead so read on with caution.
The action in Infamous 2 moves from Empire City to a very New Orleans like city named New Marais. Things pick up soon after the first game where you're immediately introduced to The Beast, who is mentioned at the end of the first game as the real threat to come, and in a very God Of War like move, you're left with your powers drained after a brief boss engagement. I guess there's a little good and bad in this. It is a pretty cookie cutter way to set up the premise of earning powers again, but it does get you right into the game from the get go.
I'll admit that the dreaded 1.5 comment crept into my mind for this game as I played through its opening missions given that it plays exactly like the first game. Aside from the story, the new powers, some fresh visuals, and a new city, there is little else to distinguish it from the first. Blast shards? Check. Dead drops? Check. Side missions? Check. Its all there replicated in various forms. Cole has a new melee weapon, the Amp, which livens up the hand to hand combat, but the real meat and potatoes are Cole's abilities. Once you dig into the game and unlock some of them you see how it changes how you play the game. Thankfully playing Infamous 2 is not simply playing the same game as the first with a bunch of new powers.
This time out you still earn XP to spend towards powers, but you must unlock the ability to purchase them. This is done by completing the main missions, missions, side missions, and various stunt activities such as knocking a set number of enemies off of a roof top or throwing objects into them. Different conditions need to be met for different powers. It's all very clearly laid out for you in the powers menu (thank you). It sort of forces you into doing some of the side missions and I can't help but wonder if this is Sucker Punch's way of getting players to play the entire game and not just power through the main story missions. There are also small refinements to existing powers that improve how the game plays. Gliding, for instance, now has a small initial boost and you appear to glide faster. This really helps the action stay smooth when taking off vertical in that you're not having to climb part of the way back up a building when you're trying to glide from rooftop to rooftop. I tend to play this game as much as I can from heights, so this sort of refinement is welcome. The bottom line here is that Infamous 2 is as much fun to play as the first, if not more so thanks to the refinements to the gameplay.
Like the first game, Infamous 2 also features a karma system. Throughout the game you will be presented with moral challenges and its up to you to choose the good or bad route. While I felt the game sort of sets you up to play as the bad guy at first, I played the hero in the first game so it was all bad guy for me this time out regardless! Like the first game, Infamous 2 promises two distinct endings depending on how you choose to play. Available powers (fire and ice, for example) are based on your choice between good and bad.
Thankfully all the game's refinements are wrapped up in a good narrative and some decent character development. The character development isn't on par with a game such as Uncharted, but it does a good job in keeping you interested in the story as a whole. While there is no multiplayer component to the game, you can now design and share your own missions over the Playstation Network. I'm not a big level designer myself, but given the creativity of what we've seen in games like LBP I think this is a great idea and am looking forward to seeing what people come up with.
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