PS3 Review: Despite being a major PIA by releasing DURING E3, we still have inFamous 2 a good score.
inFamous was made famous in part due to coinciding with PS3's price-drop in 2009, allowing it to reap the rewards of store bundles and an eager new userbase. The game was in direct competition with multiplatform Activision title Prototype, which was left in the shadows by developer Sucker Punch's electrifying new adventure game. Its success was well deserved and heavily publicized, which led to the inevitable sequel. This time out, inFamous 2 has been released in the relatively quiet summer slot, giving it center stage to impress. Impress it does, too.
inFamous 2's story picks up from where Sucker Punch left things at the end of the original inFamous game, but pulls an old gaming clich? out of the hat by taking away most of your character's powers too. Cole McGrath was near-invincible by the time he stopped Kesler, and rather than throw an original challenge at players who have mastered the Lightning Storm, Sucker Punch has decided that the safe approach of copying and pasting the game concept over to the sequel was the best way forward. Cole is left on the brink of death trying to stop new Big Bad, ?The Beast,? right at the opening of the game. In retreat, Cole's weakened state is something he can't quite get to grips with and a hunger for powers, new and old alike, consumes him.
Players have the now-familiar karma system to monitor as they play inFamous 2. Be the good Samaritan, take the hard route and become a hero as you proceed or simply lie, cheat and steal your way to more power, an easier route to success and the chance to electrocute street musicians and docile civilians at your leisure. Like the original, certain missions, outcomes, abilities and character development options are directly linked to how good or evil you are, but ultimately, the game's path is predetermined from arriving at New Marais (a generic New Orleans) to the epic finale. InFamous 2's trophy collection encourages a second play-through to get all of the mission-based coppers and a second gold, so it is worth experiencing both paths if you enjoyed the first time through, which I promise you, you will.
Cole's bag of tricks this time out includes his patented electrical Sticky Grenades, Alpha Shot, electric Push move, grinding along cables and of course his inhuman ability to climb just about anything at high speed. New to the sequel are elemental powers like an ice-based ground attack and the very impressive Ionic Tornado, which clears a path of enemies in lightning speed. Players can now lift cars and other large objects and hurl them Jedi-like through the air. Importantly, as enemies power up, Cole does too, and new challenges are often complimented with rewards and entice you to think of new ways to attack. However, I found that once I'd acquired the Precision ability, a kind of slow-motion lining-up-your-shot tool, that much of the freedom of expression was lost. Why get creative when you can line up a headshot every time? Coupled with the Sticky Grenades, this Precision ability can take out vehicles full of enemies and Ravager monsters in seconds.
Disappointingly, the game's mission and map structure is almost entirely the same as inFamous 1. The campaign in inFamous 2 is still highly enjoyable and addictive, but lacks any new spark. Yellow side quests allow you to claim areas of New Marais and eliminate enemy threats there. Blue missions are for good karma. Red ones are for evil karma. There are rooftop Ring Races, Convoy takedowns, Assassination missions and the familiar level type that takes up about 75% of the game, Just Kill Everything. All of these are present in the original, with limited imagination poured into the missions. Which brings me to the best part of the game: the level editor.
Clearly inspired by LittleBigPlanet and Xbox's Halo Forge editor, the UGC (User Generated Content) feature in inFamous 2 is a fast, user friendly and highly powerful level editor that players can use as much or as little as they like. UGC missions are color-coded green on your map and HUD compass and can be played or ignored as you see fit. Sucker Punch brings in a handful for you to try, ranging from the above mentioned mission types. Best of all is the ability for adding story content. Obviously, the UGC content isn't voice-acted, but on screen subtitles can be made effortlessly and linked to event scripts (again, not complicated here) to make your own story missions. You can make fun out of the characters or be as serious as you like. You can make the missions easy or devilishly difficult, as long as the content you make fits within a restricted memory space. There are already hundreds of quality missions with more being made all the time. What this gives players is a near-limitless amount of content to get through in the seconds it takes to filter and choose the missions you like the sound of.
inFamous 2 is nothing original, but something not to be missed. Dodgy character animations and voice acting aside, the story is compelling enough to keep you playing. The missions, though linear and occasionally rehashed, are always exciting, even if it is storming the Swamp Mansion grounds for the sixth time. You'll still want to succeed, and you'll still love every time you hit an enemy with a Sticky Grenade or the Ionic Tornado.