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inFamous 2 Review

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inFamous was one of my favorite games of 2009. It helped me realize how awesome open world games can be and in many ways exceeded my expectations for the genre. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I was looking forward to the sequel with much anticipation.

I finished the “Hero” path and I have already begun my journey towards the dark side. I did this with the first game as well, but I also finished my first run with a much more positive impression than I did with inFamous 2.

Why did Sucker Punch felt the need to alter Cole’s appearance? They turned him from an anger filled courier into a cocky douche. What is up with the arm tattoos? They just appeared on his arms like it was some kind of new found power. Random changes like that coupled with his new voice actor made it seem like they were disregarding the franchise’s humble beginning.

Decisions were made in the first game and while some of the fallout from them trickled over to inFamous 2, most of them felt like throwaway nods. Evil or Hero? It didn’t matter because I was in Sucker Punch’s version of New Orleans now, New Marais.

When I first heard that they were changing locales, I didn’t think much of it. But when I saw how they handled the transition, I was put off by it completely. Empire City felt more realized; the reasons behind the black outs, villains and dead drops made some sort of in-game sense. In New Marais, the reasoning behind everything was flimsier and some of it seemed like it was recycled from the first game.

Empire City was also more interactive and challenging with its building and neighborhood layouts. I didn’t see a jungle gym of pipes to hop across in New Marais; just a lot of power lines and rooftops. I didn’t think it was possible to miss the presence of the train from Empire City, but I actually did miss having missions involving that mode of public transit.

What upsets me the most is that they already established a universe for which Cole could grow as a super hero (or villain), but they tossed it out for a fresh start. They could have aged him by a decade or so and build upon the preparation for the Beast’s arrival. Think Terminator 2.

However, as disappointed as I was, all was not lost. inFamous 2 brought a couple of new interesting characters — well one of them was interesting anyway. Kuo was the voice of reason, the only character who grew over the course of the game and the only one who wasn’t annoying. I didn’t mind having her around at all. New Marais native, Nix, on the other hand? I just wanted to throttle her.

Even though I adored collecting shards and the mix of lighting and ice powers, I already felt signs of fatigue after finishing the first island. There weren’t many surprises tucked away after the impressive opening sequence. I was a fan of how the first game played and continued to enjoy it on a similar level in the sequel. If it wasn’t for the different fire based powers, I wouldn’t have embarked on the dark path so soon.

I found the ice and other special effects to be some of the most impressive special effects in this generation of consoles. It’s even more impressive being able to conjure up so much chaos with minimal affect on the framerate.

The one area in the presentation where I think they really need to step up is the audio. New Marais was weirdly quiet for a city with so many people. A number of ambient sound effects were too low or simply missing. Also not re-enlisting Amon Tobin for soundtrack duties was a mistake.

I consider the tech powering inFamous 2 to be one of the most impressive engines in an open world game. If they’re given another crack at it, I bet they’ll be able to create an engine that will enable a broader range of destruction than what was made available in this game. I would love it if they’d finally let me destroy a fence with my lightning tornado. Just saying.

Will there even be an inFamous 3? I wouldn’t put it pass them. Superhero movies come in threes regardless of quality, I don’t see why super hero games would be any different.

Folks say movies based on superhero origin stories are the best ones with the Iron Man franchise being a prime example. The first installment was amazing or (at the very least) competent on all levels; requiring only minor adjustments and refinements.

inFamous 2 didn’t need a new city. Cole didn’t need a new look and he could have done without the annoying she devil on his shoulder. As a huge fan of how the first game played, the gameplay alone was more than enough to keep me invested and if you’re like me, I have no problems recommending this. If you weren’t, there’s nothing here that will convince folks otherwise.

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