Thursday, August 18, 2011

Infamous 2 Review

The ending was meaningful, surprising, exhilarating, complicated and I loved it. There are times when the story get's lost in this game and feels more like some random side mission, but for the most part the story is strong and carries on the legacy of Infamous 1. From the moment you start the game you know who the boss of the game will be, The Beast, and he is coming for you. Everytime you load you game it reminds you how far the The Beast is from New Marias, which builds up a great anticipation for the final chapter of the game. There are no real chapters in the game, but there are definitely check points in which time progresses and The Beast gets closer. All of this is all about the ending, I've talked nothing of the rest of the game, but it's been a long time since I actually felt fulfilled by the ending of a game, a ending that presented you with a fairly difficult choice. The ending was great, but there are plenty of other great parts of this game as well, along with a few annoyances.
Quick Overview
In case anyone is wondering, I'm talking about Infamous 2. The third person open world rpg for PS3. It follows the first game closely, except it's an entire new setting with entirely new powers. The graphics are also quite improved upon from Infamous 1, as well as the mechanics. There are plenty similarities between the two games, but everything seems to have been improved upon. The main characters in both games are two men named Cole MacGrath and his friend Zeke. Cole is a conduit, a man who has been infused with powers and in both games it is up to you to choose how you want to use those powers, be it for good or bad means. Both games are heavy on moral choices and shape the story, and your powers, by your actions. It was created by Sucker Punch Productions and came out in June 7th, 2011. It has received pretty favorable reviews, from most everywhere and a new dlc is coming for the game in October. The new setting is New Marias, a city that largely resembles New Orleans and has a fantastic feel to it. I've never been to New Orleans, but it feels like they captured all the mystery and allure that the real New Orleans holds and put it into New Marias. Enough of that, onto the meaty details of the game about mechanics, gameplay, graphics, story and all that fun stuff.

Anyone who has played the first Infamous will intimately know how the gameplay feels, but they have added a lot to it. You are still a superhero, you still have powers, but they are all new powers and climbing feels more solid than ever. Sure, there were a few times where I got stuck somewhere climbing, but they created powers that complement climbing so well that everything feels fluid. For instance, there is a power that propels you into the air, so if there is a power line above you that you cant normally reach, you can now with this power. Ultimately, you get a tether ability that pulls you towards whatever object you desire and that makes climbing seem secondary, but that's not till the late areas of the game. The game revolves around climbing, exploring, fighting and making choices. You are a conduit of lightning, one of the strongest conduits in existence, because of your experience from the first game.
You start out with three basic powers, lightning strike, lighting grenade and push. All three start small, but grow into different powers depending on how you make your choices throughout the game. I choose the hero path and that involved me getting ice powers to supplement my lightning ones. On top of the "normal" powers there are also devastatingly strong special powers. These powers use iconic charges and you start with one iconic charge, but you may build it up three charges by the end of the game. The three I got to summon were: a giant tornado that swept through half of the screen, a lightning storm that decimated everything in sight and a ice barrage that tore through streets and froze all minor enemies. There is one other one that I didn't get use, the *evil* alternative of my ice one and it's supposed to be much more impressive. All of the *evil* powers are more fun to play around with, but it's debatable. The hero powers are strong, but they also make it much easier to help and heal others. On the other hand, the villain powers are impressively destructive and hold nothing back. It's a fair trade off and fits really well with what the powers represent. They evolve throughout the game, all the way to the last parts of the game and I appreciate that. In Infamous 1, you get your powers quicker and they feel a little more repetitive, but in Infamous 2 you have a wide variety of powers to learn and look forward to.
In Infamous 2 they added something called the UGC, User Generated Content. It lets you play optional missions all over New Marias, some of which are trash and some are actually pretty fun. Nothing that you do in the missions counts for any trophies (other than the trophies for playing UGC), but they give you experience that you can use for purchasing new powers. I played many UGC missions and the best I played were created by the developers, Sucker Punch, but there were a few enjoyable *user* created missions that I ran into. They just added more content to the UGC in August and it seemed to have created some new interesting ways to create missions. You can filter the UGC to only show you only the best rated missions, only new ones or to just show everything. UGC doesn't add anything mind blowing to the game, but it is a fun bit of extra content that is free and ever-changing.

Story and Sound
Lumped into one. Without good sound the story would suck, because the voice acting from Cole, Kuo, Nix, Betrand, Laroche and Zeke are so very important. They are involved in side quests, random encounters and main quests. So, if the voice acting had been bad, then the story would have suffered, but thankfully the voice acting is great as are the sound effects. Powers, mega powers, monsters, enemies and the world are all great sounding. There are also tv broadcasts that do a great job of not being cheesy and also bringing you news about the rest of the United States. Just like in the first game, the government is full of shit, but there are some interesting changes with that towards the end of the game in Infamous 2.
The story starts off slowly, for about thirty seconds and then it gets awesome. Within the first couple minutes of the game, you are fighting the beast and staring him in the eye. They still have the same type of cut scenes from the first game that has the neat comic book style narration. The beast is the main focus of the story, "he" is a red humanoid giant that destroys all in his path. You learn towards the end of the game who the the beast actually is and surprisingly it complicates the story. The story telling is strong and you can take it however you wish. You can buzz right on through all the story quests, or take your time by collecting shards and doing side quests. The side quests are much stronger in Infamous 2 than they were in one. They do still involve tasks like: save the prisoners, find the shard in this photo, retrieve medical supplies or destroy these enemies, but the mission design is greatly superior to that of Infamous 1. They make every mission feel unique and interesting, even when it's as bland as kill as these enemies. Some of the main story missions are truly excellent, one in particular has you riding a boat through a swamp while the miltia fights monsters in the darkness. My favorite part of that was a giant monster crossing under your boat, while you are surrounded in deep fog and cant see anything beyond a few feet.

Last Comments
If you liked Infamous 1 then Infamous 2 should be a no brainer; it improves upon everything from the original and adds a unique new setting. If you've never played Infamous, then don't worry, you don't need to know the story from the first game. In the beginning of Infamous 2 it gives a pretty good recap of the the first game and it doesn't make constant references to events from the first game. The only thing that would be less clear, are the dead drops. Dead drops are tapes that tied to birds around the city, put there by a scientist in order to hide the information from Joseph Bertrand (one of the main villains in the game). The tapes play and give information about past events, many of which refer to events from Infamous 1. The game offers a lot of replayability, whether it be doing all the side missions and conquering an island, or collecting all the shards and doing UGC missions. Everything about the game feels fluid, well designed, interesting and polished. Although, it doesn't add anything massive to the formula from Infamous 1 and there isn't anything wrong with that.

Presentation- 9 (story is well done, few bugs, high production value)
Graphics- 9 (Improved upon engine from Infamous 1, New Marias looks great along with character models, water and powers)
Gameplay- 8.5 (Same great gameplay from Infamous 1, but every part of it is improved and polished)
Length of Play- 9.5 (20-30 hours Length, many side missions, random encounters, plenty to collect, UGC, DLC support)

Violent Score: 9 (out of 10)

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-Written by Sean Cargle


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