To Every Story There Is A Beginning
It has long been a dream of mine to wield the awesome power of lightning at my fingertips, so when Sucker Punch came out with the original Infamous, I knew I had to have that game! With eager anticipation I awaited it's arrival and then I played it for hours on end. I loved every minute of it! When it was finally over, I desperately wanted another installment. Well, Sucker Punch heard my prayers and sent forth Infamous 2.
For those not familiar with the original, our protagonist Cole MacGrath begins the first game by waking up in the middle of a blast crater in Empire City. Everything within 5 city blocks of him as been destroyed by an explosion. Once he is extricated from the crater by his best friend Zeke and nursed back to health, he finds that he has lightning powers. Throughout the course of the game, you discover why he and others now have powers, why he survived an explosion that killed thousands of other people, who planned it, and why. Near the middle of the game (beware possible spoilers) you find out that the antagonist, Kessler, is preparing you to face an even bigger foe, "The Beast".
Infamous 2 picks up some time after the death of Kessler. During the span between games, Cole meets an NSA agent by the name of Lucy Kuo. Kuo has information on The Beast, Cole, and how to increase his powers so that he can defeat The Beast. She wants Cole to follow her to New Marais, a very New Orleans like city, and the setting of the rest of the game. The problems begin when The Beast enters the scene much earlier than expected. Cole jumps to attack and promptly gets stomped. Empire City is destroyed and he is then taken to New Marais by Kuo and Zeke.
New Marais has been taken over by "The Militia", led by Joseph Bertrand III. During the course of the game Cole has to find out what Bertrand is after, why there are mutant creatures attacking the city, get more power to fight The Beast, and try to keep his friends alive. Not a small task. Good thing he's practically a god.
The Eternal Battle
As stated above, I really enjoyed the first game. The story, characters, gameplay, mood, all of it. Infamous 2 had some big shoes to fill for me, and I believe it filled those shoes nicely. The story built very well on the existing ideas. Mass amounts of electric power, large city to do what you will in, and a good/evil mechanic that is used quite well.
The first game had a good number of good/evil decisions, affecting what powers you had access to and how people treated you, but Infamous 2 took that to the next level. Morality seems to affect every part of Infamous 2. As you move around the city, you have various opportunities to impact your morality. As an example, the first two kinds of choices you have when roaming the city is to either heal pedestrians (good) or take out some cops to flex your power (evil… obviously). Moral choices also play a bigger part in the main story then the original, helping you to really make the story more of what you want. Your main moral choices in this game are represented by two characters, NSA Agent Kuo (good), and a New Marais resident Nix (evil). Both character have dynamically different personalities and help you get different powers. Whichever moral direction you choose will have some pretty drastic effects.
Thor May Be Jealous
Cole starts this game with some of the powers he obtained in the first game. This helps keep the feeling that he is still very powerful. During the course of the game, you are able to unlock new powers and abilities by either completing missions or performing certain stunts in the game. Powers in Infamous 2 are mostly extensions of your basic abilities; normal strike, grenade, missile, shockwave, and melee attack. Each base ability has between 3 and 5 different advancements, all for different situations. I found myself really only using a couple from each category, but all of them were pretty fun. Infamous 2 also introduced new Ionic powers. These are massively powerful abilities that can only be used up to three times before recharging. The normal, non-karma related abilities are "Ionic Vortex", a tornado, and "Ionic Storm", carried over from the first game. One of these abilities, planned strategically, can clear an entire battlefield.
The melee combat received a pretty nice upgrade from the previous game. In the first Infamous, the melee combat consisted of a great deal of punching. Now, while that was done with electrified fists, it was still simply punching. This time around, Cole has access to a melee weapon called "The Amp". It looks like a cross between a metal baseball bat and a tuning fork. Sounds silly, but it's used to great effect. The hits feel more solid then before and that makes it a lot more fun. Like the previous powers, the Amp can be upgraded in order to do more damage and add finishing attacks, the final of which will replenish your energy bar if executed properly. This can be very useful in the unpowered parts of the city.
The games combat and exploration are executed rather well. You still use parkour and free running to explore more of the city and give yourself a leg up in combat. While the function of combat is nice, the enemies leave something to be desired. Most enemies are reused through most of the game and the main way they amp (no pun intended) up the combat difficulty is to throw more enemies at you at a time. Though this may help you feel more like a god, it does not lend itself to interesting combat.
Your Chance to Make a Difference
Infamous 2 introduces User Generated Content to the game. These missions are player created and reward experience the first time you play through them. I played through a few of the missions and they were a great deal of fun. Some were better than others, but that may just be due to personal taste. I took a look at the mission creator and was pretty impressed. Basically you move your character to where you want to create the mission (you use the existing game world and add to it) and meddle to your heart's content. One mission in particular that I enjoyed gave you "God Mode", infinite energy and health. The objective was to kill the island full of enemies as quickly as possible. One Ionic Vortex took out 1/3 of the island. For most of the game I kept the UGC turned off, but when I finished, I turned it back on and had a blast.
Sights and Sounds of New Marais
Infamous 2 is a beautiful game, there's no doubt about that. The art direction that Sucker Punch has taken with these games is very gritty and real. While some characters, like the enemies, become very repetitive, the major characters in the game are pretty great. Cole, Kuo, and Zeke are pretty awesome characters. The voice actors for those three characters were stupendous. While Nix was still a good character, and completely off her rocker, I was not as big a fan of the voice acting. Nix, being from New Marais, and the swamp in particular, should have had a much better Cajun accent than she did.
One of the best characters in the game was the city itself. Sucker Punch did a great job making New Marais seem more alive than Empire City did. The new city, while still separated into sections like the first game, sees a good bit of dynamic changes over the section. Everything from large, extravagant buildings to little shacks that people live in. The civilians are also much more active than they were in the last game. The team seems to have tried to make the random people you see much more varied than before.
We've Reached the End… or Have We
While there were issues with the repetitive nature of the enemies and a small problem with the voice acting for Nix, I didn't find anything else that I didn't like. The karma system received a nice overhaul and was a much more integral part of the story. The combat, both ranged and melee, received some nice love which made both more enjoyable. The city was vibrant and alive and the voice actors did a wonderful job with the major characters. Over all, I'd highly recommend purchasing this game! It would be a great addition to anyone's game library. Here's hoping for Infamous 3.
Game Rating: 5/5 Joysticks