It’s been two years since Sucker Punch shocked us (pun intended!) with the original InFamous. At the time of its release, InFamous was a shining beacon for how to do superhero games correctly. Sure, it had its faults, but that original game dropped us into an open world and let us truly feel like an individual blessed (or cursed) with extraordinary powers. In a nutshell, InFamous 2 accomplishes the same thing.
Those familiar with the first InFamous will immediately feel comfortable with its sequel. The setting has changed — you’ve left Empire City and hightailed it south to New Marais, InFamous’ version of New Orleans — but you’re still able to progress through the game’s campaign at your own pace, breaking off the beaten path to tackle side-quests (good or evil) and randomly generated game world events as you upgrade your powers to prepare for the inevitable fight with the prophesied destroyer of worlds, The Beast.
When you get right down to it, InFamous 2 is essentially the same game as the first InFamous, carrying with it the things that made the first game spectacular, as well as the things that held it back. There’s isn’t much evolution to be found here. But that’s not entirely a bad thing, as InFamous 2 is still very much an enjoyable open-world, superhero game. It’s just not perfect, so check those expectations at the door.
Much like with the original InFamous, InFamous 2’s missions suffer from a lack of diversity. When factoring in the side-quests on top of the regular story missions, you definitely get a sense that you’re doing the same tasks over and over again. You’ll be putting a stop to a lot of abductions and/or beating the holy hell out of struggling street musicians during your time in New Marais. There’s also a sense of deja vu with a lot of the quests seemingly lifted straight from the original game and repasted here with slightly different context.
If you played the original InFamous then you can probably attest to the less-than-stellar controls when Cole gets caught in a tightly confined space. That same issue repeats itself here in InFamous 2. I’m warning you now: there will be moments where you’ll be pulling out your hair because Cole’s super-quick movements, coupled with the game’s camera, get you trapped in a tight space which you can’t escape from. There were plenty of times where I died because Cole kept grabbing a ledge or awning I didn’t know was there instead of doing what I wanted him to — run the f**k away.
The platforming of the InFamous series is also showing its age, especially when you have titles like Assassin’s Creed properly handling parkour-style movement throughout an open world. In comparison, InFamous 2’s platforming feels far more pedestrian and dated. But don’t get me wrong, the platforming and climbing controls of InFamous 2 work, they just aren’t as graceful as what can be found elsewhere.
And that pretty much does it for my dislikes with InFamous 2. Everything else about the title is pretty spectacular, so if you can get over those nitpicks, then you’ll probably find a lot to like about this game.
One way that InFamous 2 does raise the stakes is by incorporating more set-piece sequences into the gameplay. It’s clear that InFamous 2 takes a lot of inspiration from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series when it comes to bombastic set-piece. I honestly don’t remember many in the first InFamous, but they come frequently here. In fact, the game kicks off with one to introduce you to the game’s main antagonist, The Beast. As you fight the giant, molten creature, the docking pier around you begins to quake and splinter, sending shattered pieces of wood flying everywhere while you try to fight the enormous monster. These scripted events make the plot of InFamous 2 seem larger than life and very superhero-ish. I think we can all agree that that’s a welcomed addition to a franchise of this nature.
One of the biggest criticisms I had for the original InFamous revolved around the game’s main character, Cole MacGrath. The dude came off as a complete tool, whether you played it good or evil. Thankfully, Sucker Punch found a way to iron out that issue in this sequel. Cole is much more likable this time out, even cracking jokes when necessary to lighten up the mood. He still has his occasional emo moments, but they are thankfully few and far between.
InFamous 2’s plot centers around Cole expanding and amplifying his power-set so he can be ready for his next encounter with The Beast. But that isn’t just a plot point, it directly affects the gameplay of InFamous 2. Throughout the game you’ll be earning a lot of new powers and upgrading your current abilities. There is a much wider range of abilities in InFamous 2 — so many, in fact, that it sometimes becomes hard to decide what to use when you’re in the heat of battle.
The last major pillar of InFamous 2 is user-generated content. Sucker Punch has taken the current Sony mantra of “Play, Create, Share” and applied it to the world of InFamous. Players can easily create their own missions and share them with the world through the PlayStation Network. The missions will then pop up in the game world for people to stumble across and play. At the time of writing this, the user-generated levels available have not yet blown me away. However, that doesn’t mean creative individuals won’t come along with some wildly inventive missions to extend the life of InFamous 2 past the game’s main narrative.
Even with its faults, InFamous 2 is still a very good game. But then again, I really liked the original title. InFamous 2 is essentially more of the same with a new setting and updated graphics. If you liked the original, then you’ll like InFamous 2. It’s really that simple. But for those expecting a revelation with this sequel, you’re out of luck.