inFamous 2 Review

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inFamous 2 Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sucker Punch

Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

A massive humanoid Beast is cutting a swath of destruction down the East Coast. It started in Capital City when a mysterious explosion transformed Cole MacGrath into something more than human – something with electrical superhuman powers. The Beast is heading straight toward New Marais, one of America's oldest cities, nestled in the Louisiana coastline. Cole must decide if he will save the world, or succumb to the temptations of power.

Kyle Ackerman

inFamous 2 is exactly what I expect from a typical sequel: more of the same. The game neither surpasses expectations, nor does it offer a second-rate experience. The team at Sucker Punch has transplanted the experience of the original inFamous to a New Orleans clone, threatened by the same forces that plagued Empire City in the first game. The game is far too large in scope to simply be downloadable content (or in a more archaic parlance, an "expansion"). There is a ton of new art, architecture and a new story. The sequel has worked out many of the kinks in the original game, taking the story from ham-fisted to merely heavy handed. What inFamous 2 doesn't offer is a new play experience. It's hours and hours of the same.

There are new enemies, you can finally climb chain-link fences (there's even a trophy awarded the first time you top a chain-link fence of the sort unscalable in the first game) and if you have trophies saved from inFamous, a few nods to your previous moral choices. You get exactly what you expect. It's not nearly as invigorating as it was the first time around, because you're the same lightning-powered superhero (or villain) performing largely the same missions to unlock powers and face a final boss. The powers are a touch different, but not substantively enough to make it feel new. The final boss battles were supremely cool and well choreographed, but the intermediate-difficulty creatures and conduits I had to repeatedly fight to reach those climactic events became irritating and even painful. The setting and exploration were great, but quickly gave way to repetitive battles that would have seemed considerably less repetitive if they weren't still locked in my muscle memory from the first game.

I really enjoyed the setting of New Marais. Officially it's not New Orleans after being flooded by Hurricane Katrina just as Empire City wasn't explicitly New York. But that's what it is. There's an old quarter (in as much as it's about a quarter of the available map) festooned with tacky lights and balconies, an enormous above-ground cemetery and plenty of industry. There's a huge area so badly flooded that it's a constant reminder that the protagonist is supposed to glide and flip acrobatically high above the city rather than touching ground. In the flooded areas, there's always the risk of landing in water and being rushed to a medical station after discharging into the Gulf floodwaters. I didn't even mind the occasional in-game advertising (in the form of Subway stores scattered in the less damaged parts of the city). The setting and new art were great.

If the game itself gets tiresome (or if you think it ended prematurely), inFamous 2 has an entire system for user-generated content. You can create and share missions with others. Activate the feature, and the map glows with green exclamation points beckoning you to participate in missions. Most are simply overwhelming brawls. A few are truly clever and entertaining, but even the best of the missions (including those created by the game's developer, Sucker Punch), are a notch or two below the regular game experience. These missions are clunkier, with characters popping in and out of existence and a lot of pressing the triangle button to see another two lines of dialog. Once you eliminate the large-scale fights, half-finished races and clusters of people to heal so Cole can farm for experience, there are few truly playable missions out there right now. The user-generated content system in inFamous 2 is a distraction, sometimes entertaining, but won't sustain the game.

Simply put, inFamous 2 is good, but it's not magical the way the first game was. It's like playing more of inFamous, and inFamous was just about exactly the right length.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 10, 2011 11:34 AM.

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