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Infamous 2 Review

Game Rant’s William Case reviews inFamous 2

It’s hard to discern what made Sucker Punch’s InFamous such a desirable title: its unwilling anti-hero Cole McGrath, the way the Ray Sphere enticed the imagination, or countless hours of additional side quests and collectibles. Then again, it may simply be that you could be as its namesake promised – InFamous. The game brought a harsh and murky world where players could be savior or sinner – while being the ultimate super powered being. So when developing a sequel, Sucker Punch had to figure out to keep that same feeling – and make it even better.

In InFamous 2, Sucker Punch does a spectacular job of keeping the core of the game and kicking it up a notch – tweaking what was needed and adding some intriguing new features. In games that focus on a character’s power and prowess, maintaining a balance between immersion and challenge is everything. InFamous 2‘s predecessor did that with Cole’s grace on a hot wire – and the current installment is no exception.

When last we left Cole and sidekick Zeke, they had just finished saving Empire City from Kessler (or ravaging, the the population depending on your Karma) – after the Ray Sphere Incident. Kessler warned of “The Beast’s” arrival, so Cole and Zeke team up with FBI Agent Kuo, who has been keeping up with the tale, and is offering help in the coming confrontation.

However, what’s coming has already shown up, and the Beast is the real deal. Five minutes into the game and already players are facing their biggest adversary of the title: a true display of how powerless Cole really is – and a level of power that players will be climbing toward. The opening battle also helps serve as the “quick man’s tutorial,” showing off some of the moves from InFamous that are on-hand and giving a feel for the controls – just in case this is your first time with the series.

infamous 2 boss fights

Even at the peak of your power from inFamous, it’s not enough to fight the Beast – who subsequently beats you bloody and sends you packing. Looking for more power, the rag-tag trio heads to New Marais, the birthplace of the Ray Sphere – and where Cole originally learned how to run and climb on buildings. It’s the perfect setting for a little bayou-blowout.

Cole’s ability to jump through the air with the greatest of ease hasn’t gone anywhere in the past two years, and if anything the new location gives Cole some intriguing new traversal challenges. Here, there are sections still devastated by floods that ravaged the city four years ago, meaning Cole will have to stick to the rooftops if he doesn’t want to short out in the swampy bog.

Thankfully, Sucker Punch has provided the hero (or villain) with a plethora of movement and combat abilities – to help Cole survive his new surroundings: an Ice Pillar that launches Cole into the air, extended hovering abilities, and an electric whip that is just fantastic. Earning the powers is honestly just as enjoyable as using them – even though you’re anxious for the next one. Sucker Punch has also created a system that allows you to unlock a specialty for each power — blast, grenades, rockets, ect. — based on certain requirements.

Cole in New Marais in infamous 2

While it sounds complicated, the mechanics work smoothly. While finding power to face the Beast, Cole needs to collect pieces of Blast Cores. In doing so, he’ll unlock more abilities. From there, doing things like shooting an opponent in the head or sticking a grenade to someone may earn him a longer-range blast shot, or a gravity-based shockwave. It’s quick and efficient, and the best part is that you can always access the powers just by pressing right on the D-pad, pausing gameplay and choosing what you need for the moment.

That said, you’ll need to switch on the fly often – considering what you’ll be up against. New Marias’ biggest problem isn’t just recovering from the flood – they have bigger issues to worry about. Antagonist Bertrand keeps the town filled with “freak-hatin’” militia, while a new breed of swamp creatures have started attacking anything that move. To top it off, soldiers with abilities are creeping up as well, meaning that you’ll need help if you’re going to survive.

It’s here where the ball starts to wiggle and fall for inFamous 2, right about the same place it did for its predecessor. It’s a game firmly rooted in moral consequences; yet, at the same time, each decision is so stark and sharp that it’s painful to choose. Take for instance the two other Conduits that become the moral bounce-boards: Nix and Kuo. They create such a splintered dynamic with Cole, and make equally sharp impacts with their moral choices, that when the choice is made – it’s done instantly. There’s too great a disparity between the moral choices of “Good” and “Evil.” The chasm between the ends of the spectrum are made even wider if there’s inFamous game saves available. Starting a new game with ported trophy data, Karma info, and experience will greatly boost the rewards… but also make that paradigm as drastic as day and night.

Cole fights an enemy in Infamous 2

Unfortunately the camera doesn’t like to track all the time either, especially during they newly-crafted melee system (you can tell it was “newly-crafted” because there’s an emphasis on it). Cole flails around like a frog in a blender and, at times, it’s hard to differentiate him from one of the Militia you just punted across the stage.

Though, one place that the camera is less bothersome is in the UGC. User-Generated Content is exactly what it sounds like, and about as entertaining as the game itself – once you figure it out. At first, it seems akin to the game and map editors on titles like StarCaft II and Halo: Reach, yet if the content that Sucker Punch included is a demonstration of anything, the possibilities are endless.

InFamous 2 has about 30 hours to offer players – plus some additional things to do: between the story and side missions, collectibles (dead drops return as well, along with a heap of side rewards), and other goodies. The sounds and feel are simply amazing as Cole faces one of his biggest challenges, and while the struggle to balance the power with responsibility is a heavy burden – especially considering some of Cole’s greatest challenges may still have to wait for inFamous 3.

InFamous 2 is out now exclusively for the PlayStation 3.