inFamous 2 PlayStation 3 review

Sony’s super-charged hero is back. Aaron sees if inFamous 2 is electric, or just plain shocking…

The original inFamous was one of the few superhero-style titles to actually work well, and the tale of ex-bicycle courier turned super-powered lighting rod, Cole MacGrath was a blissfully enjoyable open world sandbox title that was a promising precursor to what could end up being a truly great series. Now we get to see if the foundations laid by the first game are built upon strongly, as the sequel has arrived.

Picking up not long after the events of the first game, inFamous 2 once again stars Cole MacGrath, and things kick off in epic fashion as the great threat revealed at the end of the first game, the Beast, attacks Empire City. Cole attempts to combat this giant, demonic being, but is unable to best it, and is left little choice but to retreat to the southern city of New Marias (that’s New Orleans to you and me). It’s in this city that Cole can reportedly locate ways to increase his powers further, hopefully enabling him to face the Beast on a level playing field.

Unfortunately, New Marias is under lockdown, thanks to a powerful militia hell bent on taking out any people they consider to be abnormal. As you can imagine, when they see Mr MacGrath and his highly charged personality, they don’t take too kindly to his presence. This sets the scene nicely for another open world romp, one with more than a few refinements and additions.

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Grounded

InFamous 2 is very similar in style to its original, barring improved visuals and a new location. This is no bad thing, as the fluid controls and smooth, open-ended mission structure are warmly welcomed back. If you’ve played the first game, then you’ll instantly be at home here, as the controls, for the most part, are the same, and Cole’s abilities, such as climbing, gliding and firing off lightening bolts are identical, if a little changed aesthetically.

Controlling Cole is as easy as ever, and traversing the cityscape is almost effortless, thanks to the intelligent climbing system and Cole’s cool ability to grind along power lines.

The mission structure has also remained largely unchanged, and once again you’ll be able to proceed how you see fit, picking from main story missions and side quests in your own time, earning XP to power up Cole’s abilities and learn new ones, as well as deciding whether to be good or bad, thanks to the returning Karma meter.

Actual missions vary wildly, at least when it comes to the story, and side missions, although eventually quite repetitive, are always enjoyable and offer plenty of extra play time.

Such side missions include tossing enemy supplies overboard on cargo ships, roof top races, escorting NPCs, saving civilians and more, as well as random missions that appear and let you help citizens or aid villains. Again, it’s all quite similar to the original game, so you’ll know what kind of fare to expect.

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The main story missions, however, are far more enjoyable, and these feature all sorts of challenges, including some great set piece battles and epic boss fights. The missions here are certainly more fleshed out than in the first game, and the overall feel is one that’s more polished.

As well as story and side missions, there are also the UGC missions, or User Generated Content. This is definitely one of the best features of the game, and is sure to be a huge hit with fans. This system actually allows users to create their very own missions and share them online. As you play your own game, you’ll see these missions appear on the map in the same way as other side missions. You can then seamlessly attempt other players’ creations within your own game, earning XP and Karma as you go. Once you’ve completed a user mission, you can then give it a star rating.

The mission creator is simple, but surprisingly powerful, and can be used to produce an impressive diversity of mission types, including races, enemy elimination battles and even story-driven content. Using the editor, you can place objects and enemies into the world at any point, and you can also utilise a wide range of logic triggers to effectively program the missions. It can be daunting at first, but there are ready-made templates to start you off, before you begin your own missions from scratch.

Even better is the ability to edit any other users’ creations, remixing them in your own style. It’s a terrific system and one that I hope will really take off. If it does, inFamous 2 really will have a near limitless supply of missions, keeping the game alive for a very long time, indeed.

Power up!

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With such a strong mission structure and the addition of user-created content, infamous 2 is already looking good, and it doesn’t stop there. As this is a sequel, we all expect bigger and better, and that’s just what Sucker Punch has delivered here, especially when it comes to Cole’s abilities.

Cole starts off with many of the first game’s powers (and even has bonuses, if you carry over an inFamous 1 save). Powers like static thrusters, electric grenades and shockwave are present, and these are now augmented by a slew of new powers, such as the ability to lift objects, including cars, into the air to be used as missiles, a whole new set of bolt attacks, and, of course, the choice of a new family of fire or ice powers later on in the game.

Cole is also equipped with his new melee weapon, the ‘Amp’. This electrified implement greatly enhances the game’s close combat, and as you progress, it can be enhanced, complete with finishing attack.

This all expands the gameplay possibilities to a whole new level, and the ways in which Cole can dispatch enemies is truly impressive, and lets players make real use of the sandbox world. As you perform various unique stunts and take downs, you’re always rewarded with XP, and undertaking such actions is the way in which many of Cole’s new powers are unlocked.

What’s more, there’s a whole host of destructible environments this time, making the devastation even more rewarding, and this is utilised in many missions. Cole can still make use of cover, too, although this cover can now be blown apart, so you have to be careful.

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Dual shock

Controlling Cole is a breeze, and the smooth setup always makes sure you have full control. It really is effortless to mix up Cole’s myriad powers to create new ways of combating foes, and using your environment is no afterthought, but thanks to the great control system and design, is an integral part of the game. In no time, you’ll be shocking one enemy, pushing back another with a blast wave and then taking out a group with a car, all without breaking a sweat, and this makes the game’s more challenging encounters even more enjoyable.

Still, as powerful as Cole is, he’s not indestructible, and the game never feels too easy or unbalanced. Even the lowliest of foes can take Cole out if you’re not careful, and water is still his arch nemesis. The feel is just right, and although you do feel almost god-like, it never overrides the need to seek cover and plan your attacks.

Southern pride

The city of New Marias itself is also a step up from the first game. Whilst I admit that I miss the seedier feel of Empire City, New Marias is a more varied and detailed location, and the new selection of enemies and hazards the city brings improves upon the original title. The game’s length is long and satisfying, and that’s not even counting the possibilities of user generated content.

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The game still has a few quirks, though, notably some issues with Cole’s climbing and the missing of some handholds, simple enemy AI, and the camera in close-up combat can be a little awkward, but unless you grab a microscope and start to nit pick to the nth degree, there’s little to find fault with here.

With inFamous 2, we have a truly brilliant sandbox superhero romp that features masses of missions, some superb large scale battles and one of the best protagonists in recent memory. It’s a highly polished game and another exclusive title Sony can be proud of. This is highly recommended for any self respecting PS3 owner. Pure class.

5 stars

InFamous 2 is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.

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Rating:

5 out of 5