Monday, July 28, 2014

Infamous 2

Cole MacGrath returns to action in the 2011 sequel to Sucker Punch's “Infamous” franchise. If you haven't read my review of the first game you can do so here.

We start off with a recap of what happened in the last game, and immediately the first thing you will notice is that we have a different voice playing Cole. This time we have Eric Ladin, best known for his role as January Jones' brother in “Mad Men.” Sucker Punch brought him in because they felt they needed someone who could perform Cole's physical reactions while doing his voice to best utilize the new motion capture technology.

Cole tells us that the reason he was given these powers to begin with was so that he could stop a great and powerful beast that's coming to destroy the world through visions provided by a man named Kessler, who initially gave him the package that wiped out five city blocks of Empire City in the first place. Kessler is a dick. Kessler is also an alternative version of Cole from the future.

A month later Cole was approached by a woman named Lucy Kuo, and as luck would have it she knows all about “The Beast,” but don't be suspicious or anything. We wouldn't want that. She's tell Cole about a friend named Dr. Wolfe who worked on the “Ray Sphere” prototype (the device that gave Cole his powers) and that he was capable of amplifying his powers to prepare for the Beast, but they have to travel to New Marais, the setting for “Infamous 2.”

Cole, “I have to stop the Beast.”
Zeke, “That's a stupid name.”
Cole, “Yes it is.”
Zeke, “How are we still friends again?”
Cole, “No idea.”
Lucy, “I happen to know all about the Beast.”
Cole, “I don't find this the least bit suspicious.”
Zeke, “Hey, Cole, you gonna hit that?”
Cole, “Shut up, Zeke.”
Not actual game dialog

Before they could ship out however, everything suddenly goes to hell in a hand basket, and the Beast himself makes an appearance!

  No, not that one.

  That one.

The city is set on fire and we get our first taste of gameplay. Nothing new to report with the controls; everything is exactly as they were in the first game. Cole's lightning zap is a bit more impressive this time around, as well as the shockwave. There's a lot of hand holding at the beginning. You'll be told to press the L1 button even when you're watching a clip unfold and can't do anything. “Infamous 2” takes another cue from RPGs by having Cole too weak to face the big bad and he gets his ass kicked with Empire City being destroyed. The rest of the game puts emphasis on the fact that “the Beast” is coming.

I can happily report that “Infamous 2” does away with all the repetitiveness of its predecessor; the difficulty hasn't gone down an inch even on the easiest setting, but what are you going to do? Cole's core abilities you earned from the first game such as gliding, healing the wounded, and draining people of their life force carry over. Trophies you earned from the first game can also be carried over giving you a bonus of good or evil karma depending on how you played the previous installment; this will affect how some people will interact with you once you make it to New Marais. New abilities include, but are not limited to, Arc Restraints that can be used to hold down criminals to give you good karma, and cars you can throw at people.

Zeke invents a new melee weapon called the “Amp” that Cole can channel his powers through making it easier to take down enemies at close quarters. With each new swing of the “Amp” builds up a meter and then you can finish them off with a special move. The Amp will change appearance depending on whether or not you perform good or evil deeds. In other words, it will look pretty when you're good because evil people can't have nice things. Cole's clothes will also change when you max out either karma.

Karma hasn't changed much from the first game either; you still have moments where you'll get to do something good or evil and can find chances to perform either deed waiting around the city: muggings, objects about to explode, healing civilians, killing enemies or restraining them for police. It's all black and white (blue and red in this case) with little to no middle ground and at best you'll want to play the game twice to see both outcomes.

  Dammit, Cole! Stop making the lights blink!

Climbing is the same “press X repeatedly” chore that it was in the first game, only this time you can zip across power lines from rooftop to rooftop. Power lines make it easier to catch up to certain people during chases.

Not long after arriving at New Marais will the game pester you about logging into the PlayStation Network. The online play comes with “User-Generated Content” that allows players to create their own missions from scratch, and all the ones available online are by “Sucker Punch.” It's a clever way to allow the developers to add more content to the game without going through the work of DLC, but due to the limitations of the feature it isn't worth it in the long run. You don't have to log into your PSN account, but the game is just going to keep bugging you until you do.

“Infamous 2” retains the comic book inspired narrative they introduced in the first game. They kept the same artistic designs for the characters and locations, but it is immensely improved upon. It's amazing what a two years difference can do. Ladin keeps a trace of Cottle's performance, except not as grungy.

The voice acting has been improved upon this time around too: Cole, Zeke, Lucy, all your main characters give good performances this time around and I'm not left feeling like it's missing something.

Glitches this time around aren't as “in your face” as they were in the first game. The only one that comes to mind is when an enemy got stuck in the table after I laid him out on the floor. I'm actually proud of that one.

Conclusion: “Infamous 2” improves upon many aspects of “Infamous” while unfortunately carrying over some of the problems. If you were a fan of the first game then you won't care about those. If you didn't like “Infamous” then “Infamous 2” offers a better gaming experience all around.

ToriJ says: Try it.

Note: I'll be moving to Wednesdays starting next week.

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