InFamous 2


Written by Chris Price
13 Monday 13th June 2011

Indeed, it’s all a very Watchmen. The similarities are rife, varying from the foretelling of ‘The Beast’ a raging colossus hell-bent on wiping out humanity - to the introspective, conflicted humans accidentally bestowed with special powers; and the notoriety and obligation that comes with them. The Alan Moore influence permeates InFamous 2. Except rather than the escalating nuclear threat setting the scene for a vacuum of lawless ne’er do wells, it’s the swap proximate Southern town of New Marais after a huge hurricane. A story of rebirth and retribution, the corruption of power, mutants, plague, militia. Which definitely isn’t set in a post-Katrina New Orleans...

But InFamous 2 certainly isn’t here to nourish any deep world changing ideas. Describing it as Crackdown for PS3 owners is lazy, but certainly sets the scene. It’s a strange 3rd person sandbox action game, involving travelling from waypoint to waypoint. Cole is a spritely chap too (luckily as there’s not controllable automotive transport) with an Assassin’s Creed style parkour control system. The setting of New Marais seemingly a well thought-out decision, allowing for flamboyant turn of the century buildings loaded with footholds for brisk ascension. Vaulting up a five story building takes seconds. Climbing an ordinary ladder? Alas, that’s something this engine doesn’t make allowance for.

Each mission to advance the story is bolstered with side missions delivering scraps of InFamous history (which, to someone who hasn’t played the original, is frankly a bit baffling) and a rather interesting ‘user generated content’ system for any InFamous 2/PSN users to create new missions for anyone playing. This involves scripting series of tasks, triggering actions and reactions from around the city in fairly intuitive system, not too dissimilar from LittleBigPlanet’s approach. Each mission can also be rated, bestowing kudos upon those who’ve taken the time to craft one. Although I had limited experience with these levels at time of press, the concept and abundance of these missions certainly seems like an excellent way of creating a self-facilitating series of missions, to encourage longevity and creativity in equal doses.

Cole McGrath, obliged to hone his powers in order to destroy The Beast, and the failure of saving his girlfriend in the previous title, he’s very much the conflicted protagonist – and Sucker Punch have extended this element of his personality into a new ‘Karma’ system to unlock skills, bonuses and new abilities. Karma is broadly split between two of Cole’s flanking characters; agency guide Kuo and the swamp-dwelling Nix – align with Kuo to revive civilians, restrain criminals, assist police and share in her powers of flight and ice. Align with Nix to cause impish chaos, execute civilians, drain electricity from foes and erm...beat up mime artists.

The choice is pretty easy, with Nix’s contrived Caribbean ‘voodoo Tinkerbell‘ being one of more irritating characters I’ve come across in recent memory. Luckily, the focus remains on Cole who – aside from his Asda-brand tattoos and expressionless face, can fling cars, grenades and lightning bolts like there’s no tomorrow – and when required, open the heavens to rain down some serious elemental fire on the enemy. McGrath is a joy to control, and his weapons – though slim – are accessibly fun, and tearing through groups of enemies by trigger environmental hazards (electrocuting water, electric fences) is superb, if limited fun. The PS3 manages to keep an upperhand throughout, orchestrating the exploding scenery fizzing with arc blue current, and some fantastic God of War sized opponents (albeit, looking very much like escapees from the Umbrella laboratories)

Whereas Just Cause 2 and the aforementioned Crackdown let you run wild and unfettered (often to the games detriment) InFamous channels most of its gameplay into easily digestible chunks and keeps you on track throughout. The Karma system is hardly revolutionary and provides limited gameplay alterations aside from the weapons you can wield, which is sorely missed opportunity. InFamous 2 is a limited sandbox game – like flipping through the pages of a modern superhero comic. It’s packed with flair, style and substance – but ultimately, the world that’s delivered to you is only a fraction of the world that would be created in your mind – its open world is there purely to add spice to the game the going on within it. The employment of UGC level design is a bold new move, actually allowing your ideas to be put into practice, but the real fun to be had in InFamous 2 is in subscribing to the chaos, the power that Cole wields in this world. While it might not be pushing any boundaries in content or creativity, InFamous 2 makes you feel like you’re actually wielding the power the guy on the screen has – something sorely lacking from the majority of superhero games. In that respect, InFamous 2 delivers accessible fun and chaos in droves. Even if it is more than a little restricted.

InFamous 2 is out now on Playstation 3 exclusively

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