Reviews – inFAMOUS 2 Review

Platform: PS3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sucker Punch
Release date: June 7, 2011

Sucker Punch, who were best known for their Sly Cooper franchise for the PS2, made their PS3 debut in 2009 with inFAMOUS.  They brought urban traversal games to a whole new level, competing with games such as Assassin’s Creed, as well as competing with open-world super human games such as Crackdown and Prototype.  inFAMOUS offered a level of city detail, moral choices, top notch platforming controls, and solid third person shooting mechanics with plenty of cool powers that wasn’t found in other games.  In many ways, the gameplay is similar to the Uncharted games, but with an open free-roam city rather than a linear experience.  inFAMOUS also had one of the best endings in a videogame that I’ve seen in a very long time.  My three main complaints for inFAMOUS were that the difficulty would get frustrating quite often, there was a lack of a fast-travel power even by the end of the game, and I would have really loved to see a co-op mode similar to Crackdown.

Two years later, Sucker Punch has delivered their sequel, inFAMOUS 2.  Once again, Cole MacGrath, the main character, is set in this world with moral choices that can either lead him to become a famous Super Hero or an infamous Super Villain.  Unfortunately, once again, this moral choice system only boils down to affecting the powers Cole gets, interactions of the civilians, and the ending of the game.  There are very little differences in the dialog and cutscenes when playing the two different paths, and playing the game on a second play through with the opposite moral path really doesn’t feel any different as far as story and character interaction.  Also, despite the civilians reacting to Cole differently, they will get in Cole’s way regardless of whether he is good or evil.  In the evil path, they will sometimes run up to Cole, shove him, and throw rocks at him.  On the good path, they will cheer on Cole, and sometimes try to help him out by going up to the enemies and shoving them, but this will result in them jumping in the line of fire and you getting penalized for hurting innocent civilians.

Traversing this new city and collecting blast shards is still as fun as the first game.  Similar to the predecessor, clicking in R3 will show the locations of the blast shards on the mini map.  The purpose of these blast shards is to increase the power meter of Cole MacGrath, the main character, whenever the player collects a certain number of shards.  This gives incentive for the player to climb buildings and explore the city, in attempts to powering up Cole.  Additionally to having the ability to view the general locations of these shards on the mini map, one of the later powers that Cole can gain allows him the ability to be pointed the direction toward the next closest shard.  So even if there are no shards within the range of the minimap, this tool allows completionists to collect every single shard later on in the game, without having to spend hours finding that one last hidden shard.

There are a few improvements in the gameplay mechanics from the first game.  There are a few powers that can be gained throughout the game that will aid Cole in traversing the environments faster.  Traveling long distances gets much easier with said powers, and Sucker Punch still managed to keep the game fun even with these easier travel methods.  Also, many buildings now have vertical beams of power-lines.  Grabbing ahold of these will launch Cole straight up, and gives a boost on climbing up buildings.  There are now a few different types of destructible buildings, which can be used to take out multiple enemies, as well as adding an exciting feel to the atmosphere of the game.  Moral choice missions make more sense in this game.  In inFamous, there are moral choices such as stealing food or sharing with the people, but in inFAMOUS 2, the moral choices are more like if Cole should free the cops to raid a building or escort a buss full of explosives to that building while killing any civilians in his path.  Additionally, the escorting missions have become less frustrating in this game.  One huge problem in the first game was that whatever Cole was escorting in many missions would end up getting destroyed and it would feel out of the control of the player.  In inFAMOUS 2, there are less escort missions, and the person or vehicle he is escorting seems to have a larger life, which helps these missions become less frustrating.  The melee combat feels much better, especially since swinging a weapon gives Cole more range than just punching and kicking.

The gameplay definitely has its improvements, but it also has downgrades as well.  In inFAMOUS, there were several linear platforming levels in the sewers set outside of the open world.  These instance-style areas highlighted some of the best platforming experiences of the game.  There was even a giant tower that Cole had to climb up, with lots of poles, wires, and hanging platforms, which made for a fun platforming segment of the games.  These sections have been omitted from inFAMOUS 2 and such platforming experiences are void from the core campaign which is very disappointing.  Although, Sucker Punch did include a mission generator tool for user made missions, and there can be some good platforming missions found with this feature, but as of this writing it’s very hard to come across those types of missions that are well made.  It was disappointing that there was a lack of set boss characters.  inFAMOUS had three main boss characters, and the boss fights were fun.  In this game, most of the characters that would be thought as boss characters end up being regular enemies later on.  The game just throws more and more of them the further into the game, and it just gets tedious and annoying fighting these same enemies that were formerly bosses.

For a big-budget commercial game, inFAMOUS 2 has a lot of glitches.  While playing this game, I’ve come across glitches that involve enemies who don’t take damage, so I couldn’t complete the mission due to the inability of clearing all enemies.  A couple of times, a scripted event would not trigger, so my only option is to restart the mission or kill myself since the mission would not advance.  I have gotten stuck in the wall as well, but was eventually able to get out of it.  A few times, I would press one direction on the analog stick to move, and Cole will move the opposite direction.  I even had a mission with Kuo, one of the supporting characters of the game, and a stream of ice was blasting out of her butt the entire mission.  Those are just a few examples of the glitches in this game.

The story hardly tries to be the main focus of the game.  At best, I can say that it had some interesting twists and some powerful moments during the ending.  While playing the evil path of the first game, I felt awesome and powerful, but in this second game, I felt as if Cole was truly evil and I didn’t like his actions.  There was even a jaw dropping moment that amazed me so much I couldn’t even believe that it had happened.  During the good ending, it did give me a sense that Cole was a good person and he had the greater good in mind the whole time.  The character development has been slightly improved since the first game as well.  Every character of the previous game was unlikeable, but in this game they are better.  Zeke has actually become a likeable character in this game.  I also didn’t like the twist with the characters at the end, though I didn’t think it ruined their characters.

The graphics for this game are very good, and highlight some of the PS3’s power with the high resolution textures and the fine details on the buildings and environments.  The main characters also look very well detailed, though the civilians are not so great looking.  For an open world game, this is one of the most detailed games I’ve seen, though the draw distance is not too great and there are never any parts that showcase the overview of the city as a whole, like in Assassin’s Creed when the player climbs a building and greeted by a beautiful view of the city.  The music is also really good as well, I especially love the violin music, and it adds a feel that something terrible is happening in this world.  A lot of the missions have some well composed music which helps add suspense and a dramatic feel to the moment.  Though the immersion that is added by the music can all be lost whenever the player gets low on health, because the music ends and some other “critical health” audio cue then begins.

The user generated missions is a good way of finding some extra replay value out of this game.  There is a filter for highest ranked missions, or featured missions, as time goes on, there have been better user-generated missions appearing.  I would have really liked to see a co-op mode to run around this city with a friend, similar to Crackdown.  I even think a competitive multiplayer mode, similar to Uncharted 2 but with super powers, could have been implemented into this game.  Normally, the lack of such features wouldn’t detract from a game such as this, but overall inFAMOUS 2 just doesn’t do enough to make itself significantly better than its predecessor.

Overall, I feel that inFAMOUS 2 isn’t a step forward, nor a step back, but a step to the side.  Sucker Punch fixed a few problems, took out a few things that made inFAMOUS great, and added some new features.  It’s not the type of progression that a player wants to see.  When a great game like Uncharted progresses to a whole new level with Uncharted 2, then it raises the expectations of sequels for other great games.  inFAMOUS was a great game with its issues, and so is inFAMOUS 2.  I recommend this game to anyone who enjoys platformers and third person shooters.  Any fan of the first game should definitely check this out.  Anyone who hasn’t played through inFAMOUS, I highly recommend playing through that game before playing inFAMOUS 2, though it’s not essential.

4 out of 5 stars

-“The Don” Stafa