A shocking return to form!!! (Electric puns stop NOW)
The life of a superhero isn’t exactly the Life of Riley. No matter what good deeds you do, you will be the subject of ridicule for many. That guy who wears his underwear the wrong way. The anti-social in the office who sleeps 9 to 5 and then hangs out on the roof throughout the night. That nutjob with the weakness to carrot cake. It’s not like Cole McGrath has it any easier; he’s just an overhyped Duracell bunny, but don’t take the piss out of his lack of a moral compass. That’s always been the charm of inFamous. Even if I decide to play the good Samaritan, I can fry some dumb picketers against my causes or slap some cretin who kicks me in the nuts with 5000 volts. After countless hours of reigning Empire City in the original, it’s time to up sticks and make people stand in line in the new slums of inFamous 2.
It’s been a month since Cole’s takeover of Empire City, yet it hasn’t been a great vacation. A cataclysmic humanoid known as ‘The Beast’ is coming for his head, and with a simple agenda that relies purely on slaying Cole. Too weak to battle the massive enemy in his current state and with the promise of new powers available in the parkour wasteland of New Marais, Cole sets out in a race against time to prepare himself for a force which might not just have dire consequences for him, but the whole world.
Despite the traditional baseline doom and gloom story that kicks off proceedings, the plot evolves into a full scale war with factions generating left, right and centre all fighting for different causes. The deeper you dig into inFamous 2 the more the story seems like it has been torn straight out of a comic book, and improved visual cutscenes and well illustrated comic strips accompanies the great narrative brilliantly.
The city of New Marais may not be dominated by sky scrapers like the concrete wasteland of Empire City, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun to explore. The three islands on offer are like playgrounds to navigate through thanks to the design of each. From the conventional building littered cityscape with tramlines as town veins to grind on, to the booby trap soaked Flood Town and the huge industrial Gas Works, the three locations feel very unique and all have their gritty charm to traverse. Cole seems to have worked on his cardio in his month off, as he’s much nimbler on foot, and a variety of new and improved powers like advanced static thrusters to glide through the skies and an electric tether to latch onto landscapes and reel Cole in make the prospect of ‘Quick Travel’ in other open-world games laughable.
Pretty much any action you take earns you XP, a currency that seems to run in every superhuman’s veins that allows you to purchase new upgrades for your already existing powers. It’s still fun to zap, detonate and blast away opponents…but there’s something a hell of a lot more fun about sticking rockets to torsos and blasting enemies into the air, leaving them floating slowly ready for zapping like they’re hanging from a washing line. Your powers can be developed over time, and the constant opportunities to slaughter enemies in different ways, even allowing you to blend powers with fire or ice depending on your alignment. The story is reward enough for your progression, but the prospect of torturing your enemies or the innocent in tantalising new ways is a great little cherry on top.
The deeper you dig into inFamous 2 the more the story seems like it has been torn straight out of a comic book
Along with Cole’s new powers, his sidekick Zeke has armed him with ‘Over Protective Father’s Gadget Of The Year’; a large double pronged cattle prod known as ‘The Amp’. This is only the natural evolution of melee combat, and manages to make a nice change from firing off electricity into opponents faces, especially when in the midst of dense brawls. With no lock on feature, however, it can be the bane of aspiring saints. Should you decide to take on gun toting henchmen on the street, it’s very easy for the game to automatically focus your attention on the nearest human in contact, whether it’s a genuine enemy or an innocent civilian. It’s fun to duel with massive groups of enemies, but fairly annoying if there are hostages in the way.
As much as I loved the story of inFamous 2, I was very disappointed with the fact that my actions, be they good or bad, didn’t change the narrative much. Upon my first playthrough as a lovely do gooder, I found many opportunities for the narrative to branch out and develop different character relations when I turned into a complete douche for my second playthrough. Alas, although there are a small handful of story missions which divert your alignment towards good or evil, you’ll be playing the exact same plot as you did on your first run. It wouldn’t be so annoying, just disappointingly predictable that your actions would change nothing but the ending if the characters didn’t act so non-chalent to everything you did. Whenever I made a rash decision which tipped the scales in our favour but question your allies, their rash rantings and sheer rage against my choices would be all forgiven and forgotten in a few missions time. The inconsistencies are just weird, and you can’t help but feel there’s a completely missed opportunity here to give the moral based gameplay angle more of an edge.
A nice feature to make its way over to the electrifying parkour sequel depends on the trophies you earned in the original inFamous. Those who had the patience to find every Blast Shard in Empire City can enter New Marais with more energy than starting without. Committing to the path of a saint or a sinner before you even begin can also lead to extra experience for your do-gooder/hell-raiser career. It’s no Mass Effect world changing game saves, yet it is a nice addition that rewards you for your dedication.
There are almost 40 story missions to slaughter through, and even more side missions to complete in order to conquer the islands of New Marais. There’s a lot to do, and enough hours to sink into this sequel to put DLC to shame. An unusual addition for this title, however, is the User-Generated content available for PSN users, allowing average Joes to develop their own missions in the world with a comprehensive tool set .It’s a nice addition, yet doesn’t look like it’s set to take off any time soon, at least, not in any LittleBigPlanet sense. A majority of the ones on offer are simply dense in hooligans and aren’t the greatest pieces of fan fiction, but approach it with enough imagination, and even simple civilians like us can turn it from an average addition to an immense one.
Though suitably gritty in appearance, each island and neighbourhood is very distinctive in itself and doesn’t feel like it’s been copy and pasted all over. The graphics really shine in cut-scenes, however, and performances really benefit from direction in motion-capture, with characters looking pretty damn impressive. Cole’s got a more grisly look this time around, to suit his murky voiceover, with enough personality to form a strong character, but not overly-dominating till he makes some morale decisions. Cole’s pal Zeke is less of a stupid redneck this time around as well, toned down to actually be a hilarious buddy character as well as, dare I say,
quite a brotherly support throughout.
Coming into inFamous 2 with no knowledge of the franchise is somewhat daft. Even with flashbacks, the story is very closely tied to the original, yet if you can get over that, it’s a ridiculously fun open-world title to play. Those who’ve had extensive experience in Cole’s shoes will slip straight into the familiar world of electric justice easily. The sequel improves everything fun in the original, and manages to introduce new features without complicating the core gameplay. If you haven’t played the original, you’re missing out on what is now one of the greatest franchises on the PS3. If you have, you have no excuse to miss out on this.
The Bad: Weird addition of user-generated content not exactly fulfilled (yet), Nothing majorly changes in narrative be you good or evil