The original Infamous is one of those games that came to me early in my PS3-owning life. An open-world environment with moral choices and a great range of abilities, it soon became a favourite way to spend a few hours.
Moving on a couple of years and developers, Sucker Punch has unleashed the next instalment of the story. Picking up soon after the events of Infamous, we meet Cole and Zeke on a bad day for their original playground Empire City. A threat of terrible power known in-game as The Beast is about to descend; obviously, Cole as the local superhero faces up to the threat. The game throws the player into a Boss Fight to start the show, and it ends badly, with Cole and Zeke leaving Empire city behind. Even though you give The Beast a fair kicking he still lays waste to the city and its inhabitants. This is where the game is uncompromising – the story is not afraid to deliver large amounts of collateral damage, and I imagine this only serves to enhance the emotional response to drive the player when making moral choices.
Either way, the scene is set and the boys along with NSA operative Lucy Kuo head South away from the wreckage of Empire City and towards New Marais, a new playground of destruction with some very New Orleans-esque overtones. In New Marais, Sucker Punch have crafted a terrific environment for the game. There are areas of variety and plenty of environmental hazards for Cole and his enemies alike, not to mention that graphically it looks fantastic. The level of detail is excellent and the enhanced amounts of destructible options make for some truly messy encounters; causing Militia enemies to be thrown off a tall building or caught in a collapsing balcony is always enjoyable.
Player movement is quick and smooth, and although the game sometimes feels like a mash fest as you spam the jump button to ascend a building, the game allows Cole to pretty much go everywhere at a whim. He scampers up the tallest buildings quicker than Spiderman, makes seemingly impossible jumps and survives falls that would make a Crackdown agent wince. The best comparison would be against the meticulous climbing and rooftop running of Assassins Creed; in Infamous 2 it seems that Cole is guided by an invisible hand that allows significant mid air control and less worry for handholds. I’m not complaining, it makes the game fun, engaging and ensures that the player makes use of the environment that way it was intended. In addition to the climbing and jumping fun, ‘grinding’ along telephone wires and tramlines is a super fast and impressive mode of transport that stops you wondering why Cole never jacks a car.
The game delivers some new powers and starts you off with access to basic powers without an overlong tutorial. Progressing the story will open new abilities, but they still need to be purchased with experience points. This is a good strategy for a developer that wants players to fully enjoy their game, as it drives the player to follow up side missions and collectables to add to their experience tally and enable new powers, without which the later story encounters will be a struggle.
The one aspect that has highs and lows is the melee combat. Swinging away with Cole’s electrified Amp is satisfying, and combined hits allow players to hit a button for a finishing move. The combat is played out in a dynamically cinematic style, but without a good lock-on mechanic thrashing the combat button often leaves you swinging at the space where your last opponent stood, while you are being lined up from behind. It looks great and feels mostly good apart from those minor annoyances.
Infamous 2 also offers a decent variety of enemies along with a deep and enjoyable story; New Marais is home to a corrupt and powerful politician who is happy to throw his armies at Cole, in the form of humanoid Militia and non-humanoid Mutants. At the risk of keeping spoiler-free I’ll leave it at that, but then there is also the threat of The Beast maintaining its inexorable march to your location, getting closer with story progression and cutting a swathe of destruction across the country. The Beast will return before the story is concluded and is the key to the player’s good or bad moral choices for resolution of the adventure.
On top of the great engine, well constructed story and fun, Sucker Punch has given players the ability to share custom content with other PSN users. There is an in-game menu to allow construction of one-off missions with various objectives; these missions can then be submitted to the community and based on their feedback may be elevated to more users. They are also a way to gather more experience points to spend on abilities. It is early days, and even though there is a fair amount of custom content available it will be very interesting to see what does come of it; some of the examples on offer first-off are Sucker Punch missions, obviously crafted with more experience and can be quite satisfying to complete. Just head over to any green marker in the game world and hit R1, you’ll be straight in and playing. It is a good attempt at offering something that extends the game’s life cycle with players, but does not offer the complexity of Halo’s Forge tools.
Overall, Infamous 2 has won me over as a player who enjoyed the first one, but had little drive to get into the sequel, apathy probably fostered by the repetitive nature of the original game. I am happy to say I should not have overlooked the hype for such an enjoyable and good-looking experience.
Lasting Appeal: 7.0