Review: Beast mode activated: an Infamous 2 review
The beast is coming, will you be able to defeat him, will you even try? These are the kinds of choices you can make in infamous 2.
Infamous 2 picks up right where Infamous left off. Cole is now powered up and waiting to take on the beast. Cole and his gang plan to head to New Marais (aka New Orleans) to pick up some new powers before the big fight, but the beast has other plans. If you finished the first Infamous, you can continue your story as either good or evil and get some bonus XP, extra electric power and a karmic boost. If you finished both story lines, you get to choose which one to continue. It’s a nice touch and it works great.
I was late to the Infamous party; I didn’t play it until it was free as part of the PSN welcome back program (check out my pro tips). On the plus side, that means I played Infamous right before playing the sequel. As such, two things really stuck out right from the get-go. First, they changed voice actors for Cole, the main character in the game. (I didn’t think that was a good sign.) And second, the game looked a lot better. Oh yeah, and for some reason Sucker Punch thought it’d be funny to change the pick up an item/interaction button from triangle to R1... no reason, just different. That screwed me up big time early on.
The Infamous 2 engine has been reworked an includes some really impressive updates including real-time in-engine cut scenes (all of which are skippable now, yeah!) destructible elements and big HUGE enemies. The new engine also supports user generated content (UGC), but more on that later.
Aside from the typical destructible cover (boxes and such) there are huge verandas that you can take out with a few well placed grenades. This has the added benefit of taking care of any baddies standing on or below the porch. Giant fuel tanks and silos can be blown up along with pedestrian bridges and all sorts of stuff I didn’t expect. (There’s no full scale building demolition though.)
Infamous 2 is a bit tougher than its predecessor, mostly because it is more stingy with the electricity. You no longer gain power from grinding on wires; they’re solely for transportation now. Your standard lightning bolt (R1) also now consumes some juice. You’ll have to be a bit more strategic if you don’t want to run out of power now, especially in powered down areas of the city. To make up for the standard bolt taking power, Sucker Punch has improved the melee by giving Cole a weapon, dubbed “the Amp”, it is an electrified tuning-fork looking device that you swing at the baddies to clear them out. Unfortunately for Cole, the Amp is no match for a gun, and many of the bad guys (even early on) have guns. Jumping into a gang of four or five jimmies with guns and swinging your stick around is akin to suicide. There’s also a section of the city that’s partially flooded, forcing you to stick to the rooftops as water and electricity are a bad mix.
My first OMG moment came when I was introduced to the Devourer, a giant swamp creature that will chase you through the streets and give you your first real challenge in the game. It’s not a boss, just a really big, strong enemy. There are also militia helicopters and giant Ice Titans to contend with (plus a couple of REALLY GIANT surprise enemies). Sadly, none of these big baddies are available in the mission editor for the UGC, so many of the user created missions end up being swarms of small enemies. Pro Tip: You can enter the UGC mission creator, fly to any point in the map, and finally exit the creator which will essentially fast travel Cole to wherever you want to be.
One of my complaints about the first game was that no matter which side of the karmic scale you were on, the story played out the same way. This made the good/evil choices largely irrelevant (except as to which powers you had). Infamous 2 has no such problem, the ending (not just the cut scenes, but the game play and bosses) is completely different for good Cole and evil Cole. Without giving too much away, Infamous 2 is the only game I can think of where the evil ending seems more like the real ending to me. The game is called “infamous” after all!
Aside from the lack of large enemies is the UGC, there are a couple of other, minor issues with Infamous 2. Instead of taking you into the map screen after completing a mission (as Infamous did), Infamous 2 puts a mission summary on the right of the screen, while leaving you in control of Cole. This sounds good in theory, but in practice the summary covers up your mini-map and for some reason hides your target reticule. If there are any bad guys left alive in the area when you finish a mission, you will have a tough time dealing with them in that condition. My advice is to just run away until the summary is off the screen and your reticule is back. Another issue occurs when you defeat one of the larger enemies. Infamous 2 likes to give them a cinematic death, this takes control away from you to show you the bad guy going down in slow motion even if they weren’t the last active enemy and you are still in the middle of a fire fight. Totally not cool.
In the first Infamous, all of your powers could be upgraded 3 times and they became more and more useful each time. In Infamous 2, instead of simply upgrading the power, you unlock variations on the power (a triple shot, or spread version of the basic bolt for instance). Some of these are cool, some are not, but I never felt like I was getting more powerful, just different, which was a shame.
You still collect blast shards to increase you electricity storage, they are scattered all over the city just as before, you’d really have to try to not see them and get at least 50% of them. As the story progresses, you are joined by two conduit accomplices, one good and one evil and you can choose which side missions to do, in addition to some main story decisions that will drastically affect your karma.
Overall, Infamous 2 is a fun game with tons of stuff to do. You’ll want to play through it twice, which is quite a bit of game play. Unfortunately the UGC doesn’t keep the replay value as high as promised due to the omission of the larger enemies. Still, I got a couple of weeks of value out of this game and enjoyed myself while playing it so BUY IT.