Infamous 2 - Review



Infamous back in 2009, was exactly the kind of game, when i think about games with new ideas. It introduced Cole, an everyday guy accidently getting superpowers that allow him to control electricity and to use for his advantage. It sort of ended on a cliffhanger that definately promised a sequel.
Now in 2011, Infamous 2 gets released. Although i think that it wasn't very smart to release the game exactly the same week, in which e3 2011 was happening, it nevertheless caught enough PS3 owners' attentions. So how does this next installment of Coles story continue?




Story

The Story of Infamous 2 picks up right where the first one left off (Although it would be better to having actually played the first Infamous, you will get a short recap of the previous events.) The story continues with Cole awaiting the predicted fight with the prophesyzed giant monster simply called "The Beast". When Cole first encounters the Beast, he almost gets killed and so he figures that he has to obtain new powers and get stronger to defeat the Beast in their next confrontation. Cole escapes with his friend Zeke and the government agent Kuo to a New-Orleans-Style City called New Marai. Here Cole has to prepare for the Beast which during his time in New Marai is coming closer and closer, but little does he know that the Beast isn't the only evil force he has to deal with.

It was clear that Infamous 2 would be a direct continuation of the first game. Anyway, what i would have changed was the reveal of the Beast. Although it kind of gets already shown in the first game, it would have been much cooler if the player wouldn't know how exactly the Beast looks like. Covering it up in mystery would have made it much more of an evil destructive threat to the world (and the player).
The main story of Infamous 2 has many parallels with the X-Men movies. The big theme here is the relationship between the society/the normal people and the conduits/mutants (like Cole). It's developed very well and enhances the feel of a mutant AND people populated world even more than in the first game. Also the game is adding some exciting supremacy plots to the main story.
In New Marrai, you are given two main mutant allies: Kuo (with ice powers) and Nix (fire powers). While at first it seems VERY obvious who of them stands for what karma (good or evil), it is interesting how they often manage to surprise you by swapping their characteristics. In the course of the story many characters sometimes tend to radically change their way of thinking or their motives, revealing more of their personality. Shortly said, often it's not quite clear who of the two allies (Kuo & Nix) represents what side.


Gameplay

Infamous 2 plays exactly like the first game, just with some new additions to Cole's arsenal of powers. For melee fights, you are given a weapon called "the amp", which is basically a big tuning fork. It sure is a cool new addition but also melee combat itself has been changed in a way: After a series of hit combos (which are all in slow motion ---> WTF?!), you charge up a "punch meter" which you can use to unleash a powerful finishing attack. This is all cool and all but melee combat really feels unexciting and formularic here. I very rarely used melee to defeat enemies.
Concidering Cole's electric powers, there's a big bunch of new additions: 4 different types of blasts, rockets, grenades, etc. just to name a few. Cole's arsenal has been stocked up so much that the developers couldn't manage to organize one button to every single one of his powers: so you are given a short menu to quickly apply a specific power that you need: for example your grenade type from clustergrenade to stickygrenade. While during combat it often is a pain in the ass swithcing from combat to a pause-menu, there's not much else the developers couldn do to fit all these powers into the game. If that wasn't enough, at one point in the game Cole is also given the choice of another second palette of powers (either ice or fire). While at first i thought this idea was overpowering Cole a bit too much for my taste, it's ok when you actually see what strong enemies you have to deal with.

Infamous 2 is often a rollercoaster regarding it's difficulty (i am now referring to the "medium" difficulty setting). The game of course starts out with you being weak so you slowly have to "buy" stronger attacks etc., but for me the first half of the game often was very hard (even some sidemissions). I was shocked how much i actually sucked at the game right from the start. Turns out the game gets significantly easier the stronger Cole gets (opposite to the first game). Of course the enemies you encounter simultaneously get harder to kill too, but at one point you will be such a powerhouse that no enemy is a real threat anymore. Also, you will quickly find out that there's a method to killing each specific enemy type most efficiently.

The storymissions in Infamous 2 are easily just as exciting as the ones from the first game thanks to the great storyline. With every mission you get the feel that you really accomplished something, especially concidering finding out about the secrets and the mystery behind the supremacy-plot and the backstory of the Beast itself.
In some missions you fight in a team with either cops, rebels, Kuo or Nix (or all of them at once). It's a very cool idea and it makes the fights even more engaging, although you unfortunately always get the feel, that everybody is just fighting for his own. There's not really a feel of them backing you up (sometimes i even got shot with a freakin bazooka from one of my own teammembers when i was standing right in front of him!!).
Sidemissions are significantly refined in Infamous 2: Though they of course often recycle missions by just putting the same objective in a different part of the island, there's a much much bigger variety to them than in the first game.

Summing it up, i would say that the gameplay in Infamous 2 is probably not a necessary giant step forward but it made additions that only make the gameplay more fun despite some minor flaws here and there.


Graphics

Graphically, Infamous 2 has drastically changed compared to it's predecessor. Everything from the environments, to the explosions, to the facial animations, etc. has been improved and put way more effort into. The graphics were one of my biggest complaints with the first game and although some textures still don't look as good as they should and you can't watch that far over the city, the game's graphics are good overall. Look at it as big as a leap comparable to the one from Uncharted 1 to Uncharted 2 (although Uncharted 2 of course still looks better than Infamous 2).


Sounds

The sound design in Infamous 2 is solid as well. While mostly there's nothing really recognizable or memorable about it, the electric effects impress pretty well when cranking up your surround system.
But i do have had a problem with the music in the game: most of the time the music is pretty weird. It mostly consisted out of awkward drumming parts or fiddles trying to capture the spirit of New Marais (New Orleans), but the music never gets you pumped up or gives you a good feel. It's mostly really dragging you down and sounds quite depressive for my taste. Right from the start, the score more or less sounds like you just came back from a funeral or something although the game just started. Only a few times the music was pretty cool, resembling the score from Infamous 1.


User Generated Content

A big new gimmick in Infamous 2 is the ability to create own missions. I admit that I didn't dig into this part of the game that much because i am just not the editor-player kind of guy. But i think it's definately a nice idea to keep the game relevant for some time and let the community be creative. Although, i would have wished that the developers would have put just as much effort into the mission-creator tutorial as in the variety of construction-tools themselves. You quickly feel lost in all those possibilites the mission editor has to offer. For me it is a prime example for losing the player's interest by not introducing him to the game (in this case the editor) the right way.


The Verdict

All in all, Infamous 2 is a great successor to the first Infamous. The additions and refined details concerning the graphics, the arsenal of weapons and the characters is very good and offers many new possibilites of what you can do with Cole. Although I would have wished that the feel of an X-Men mutant team and gameplay would have gotten more effectively utilized during the gameplay, the good story kind of compensates this for me. It's just a pity because from watching the trailers, that's kind of what you have been promised in a way. As i said, the story is written very well and gives you many answers about questions you had after finishing the first game. And yet, even though the good AND evil endings are quite impressive and slightly epic, i consider them "okay" compared to the "in-your-face twist ending" from Infamous 1, that kept you wanting more. None of the endings of Infamous 2 gave me that feeling. Comparing the two installments side by side i would have to say that, overall i consider the first Infamous slightly better than Infamous 2 but yet still this sequel is a great game. It's always hard for a game sequel to surprise and excite you just like when you played the original for the first time. But considering how many game-sequels fail in this regard, Infamous 2 is a great exception.
Definately, Infamous 2 is a no-brainer for fans of the first Infamous to pick up.


Final Verdict: 9 out of 10

Status: Must-Play!

 

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