Out of the several reviews I've created for Amazon, all of which being positive, mainly because I never bother with bad games, I've never named a game one of my favourites of all time. The original Infamous, a game I never got round to reviewing, is definably one of my favourite games I've ever played. Its epic comic book plot accompanied by huge, unforgettable set pieces, like the prison raid or the fight with the dustmen leader on the Empire City Bridge and addictive gameplay ensured its spot in my top games ever list. It had its drawbacks of course, mainly ugly aesthetics, occasional glitches and an uninspired protagonist, but everything else made up for it.
So when looking at gameplay footage of its sequel, I was more than a little worried at the direction it was taking. First of all was the character redesign. All though I wasn't overly in love with the original game's hero, the young, hipster Nathan Drake lookalike fans were told to get used to didn't sit well with me. I'd went through an entire game playing as one character, and become (I'll admit) slightly connected to him only to come to the next with a completely different individual and expect to believe it was the same person. How could they ever expect to explain that away in the story? Another thing was some of the powers. The tornado like Ionic vortex looked like a lot of fun, but I feared for the game's difficulty. I understood Cole was a fully fledged super individual now, but would it tip the difficulty to much in my favour? I really shouldn't have doubted Sucker Punch. Infamous 2 could well be an improvement on its electrically charged predecessor. They made Cole look far more like the original's and as well as that, made an excellent difficulty balance between powerful and overpowered. This is mainly down to the roster of new super villains to combat (or conduits as the game calls them) and the sheer numbers the game throws at you. But the game's improvements go far beyond that.
The original Infamous told a comic book tale of super powered homeless people, a destroyed city and an Earth shattering realisation at its conclusion. Infamous 2, takes off two months after it concluded, with Cole preparing to travel to New Marais to train for his fight against demonic enemy The Beast. But before he can, his much prophesised enemy arrives and destroys the city, killing millions and leaving Cole broken and defeated. He, Zeke and a secret agent who told them about what Cole can find within New Marais travel to the city anyway, a mostly fully powered Cole now knowing he's no where near as strong as he could be. The opening fight against the Beast says it all about Infamous 2's style. Bigger is better. Cole rushes through crumbling, packed city streets with a skyscraper sized monster leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, only to try and melt its face off with an electrical storm that succeeds in slowing him down, but nothing else. The same electrical storm that could decimate entire armies in the original. Such set pieces are, thankfully a common sight throughout, with the most memorable imagery often being saved for big plot events. Like leading any army of cops against a mansion to save a friend, or trying to save the city from, well, you'll see... The story is both more epic, with a map on the pause screen showing how far way the Beast is from reaching the city and larger than life comic book baddies yet also more personal too. If you haven't played the original Infamous, I strongly recommend you do before starting this adventure, otherwise you won't know what is going on for the life of you. If you have, you'll know what I'm talking about here. Cole and Zeke are once again best friends, but their bond is a little weaker and there are a lot of sore subjects to be talked about, mainly the death of Cole's girlfriend Trish. Many people hated Zeke in the original but I had no problem with him. Now though, thanks to big writing improvements, he's far more likable and genuinely funny at times. The other characters also feel mature and believable, with characters often reacting realistically to the events transpiring around them. The game has a very `super heroes in the real word vibe'. There's prejudice against them, most people are frightened and never once does someone dress up in bright spandex. The only character I really have a problem with is Nix, the fiery young woman from the trailers you may recognise. Her only real job is to represent the game's evil choices and she does a pretty awful job. Sure, she has a dark, tragic background but she comes across as annoying, compulsive and obnoxious. Many of her plans (although several entertaining) range from creepy to overblown. These moral decisions are one of only a few complaints I have with the experience. They are, as many have stated, far too black and white, or should I say Blue and Red. They're colour coded and their often given by two characters. The before mentioned Nix and Kuo. Kuo is far more likable than Nix; she's realistically portrayed as a young woman who was subjected to long, torturous experiments to turn her into an ice conduit and is completely out of her depth, relying on Cole to help her. She also represents the good choices on the morale spectrum most of the time. Her plans often make a lot more sense and although at times less explosive, but feel right within the context of the world.
In terms of both story and gameplay, Sucker Punch seems to have looked at contemporary super hero movies. The cut scenes look gorgeous and well directed at the same time, with fabulous voice acting and animations. But the gameplay also has been made more cinematic. Melee combat with weapon the amp allows you to pull off slow motion finishers which let you flip over an opponent and hit them in the back, or leap into the air and unleash a field of electricity, knocking out multiple foes simultaneously. If you're too close to an explosion, time will pause for a split second as you're mid air, before jumping back to life at full speed. You become totally engrossed in the act of fighting. You'll zip along rail lines, leap off and start attacking with your amp, get caught off guard by a missile, get back up an hurl an electrical tornado at the street ahead, watching in awe as enemies, cars, lamp posts and even helicopters are sucked inside. This does bring me to my two other problems though. One is civilians. If you even hit a civilian once your karma takes a hit. In an epic battle against an ice hurling bad guy that leaps around at the speed of light, civilians get hurt, it happens. Even when you're fighting to protect people they'll get caught up in the brawl. The other is the camera, which can get a little erratic and wonky at points, but nothing that hurts the experience to much.
The game looks beautiful too. The drab, colourless visuals of the first Infamous are given life by blood reds, licks of blue and green and incredible vistas. I didn't come across any technical hiccups at all this time except for one incident (and I do mean one) were Cole sank through the ground and some how drowned. Meh. It feels like a true Sony exclusive, a game that shows the console's immense power whilst also offering something unique (like Heavy Rain, Uncharted and Flower etc). The writing is fabulous, as is becoming a Sony staple and there is limitless replay value. You can play two times through as a good or a bad Cole, find all the dead drops (this time on pigeons instead of satellite dishes) and once again find those hundreds of blast shards. There is also the user generated content. The game has barely came out so the community isn't booming yet, but its incredible depth approaches the likes of LBP. We'll just have to see how that goes.
Infamous 2 is more of its predecessor and then some. It's hugely addictive (thank god my exams are over for a while) tells a mature but interesting story with great a great cast and succeeds in making you feel like a true super hero, or villain. It's certainly a contender for GOTY and one of Sony's best exclusives.
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