The first inFamous was proof that Superhero games could be awesome again. The powers were badass, the writing was great, and the story had a twist that would have surprised M.Night Shamalan. Sucker Punch proved that they knew how to use the PS3, and nearly everyone who finished inFamous couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Well, the next chapter of electric man Cole McGrath’s story is finally here, and it does not remotely disappoint. With awesome new powers, a great new city, and an expanded story and universe, inFamous 2 surpasses the original in every single way.
- Press Start:
Like its predecessor, inFamous 2 has no opening menu. The first time you start up, if you have inFamous save files, it asks which one you want to import. Depending on your stats and morality, you earn bonuses in inFamous 2. If not, it cuts straight into the opening cinematic, showing Cole and his always popular fat-best-friend Zeke ready to travel to new places in order to better prepare Cole with his fight against The Beast, a super villain on radioactive steroids that has been prophesized to destroy the world in the not-too-distant future. Right after the opening, Empire city starts to explode as the Beast emerges into Cole’s life, and the reactions of the citizens and of Cole himself are different depending on your past in the original inFamous. An epic opening fight ensues, and Cole’s awesome adventure begins with a thunderous bang.
- Story: 5/5
inFamous 2’s story is, like the original, told through great in -game cinematics that are leagues above the first game, and in awesome comic-style cinematics that are used to highlight the big events or plot points of the tale. The writing is phenomenal, and really brought the new and old characters to life in ways the original never did. Zeke is less of an annoying sidekick and more of a real friend, and some of the new characters are just plain cool. There may be one or two individuals you won’t really like, but it won’t be because they aren’t well developed. It will be because they are seriously messed up.
The only element of inFamous 2’s story that is oddly out of place is the random swamp monsters. These mutated beasts emerge from the deadly swamps around New Marais, and you eventually find out why they exists and what’s responsible, but even with the explanation the mutant swamp beasts are oddly placed and slightly unnecessary. It does not detract from the story overall, and fighting the beasts is hectic and fun as hell, but it’s still worth noting that there are random swamp mutants in the game. Apparently in-breeding is really bad in those parts.
The original inFamous was praised for its story. It was filled with interesting characters, great dialogue, and twists and turns that evoked all manner of powerful emotions in the players. While inFamous 2 maintained the ability to make choices that in no way reflect ANY choice you’ve made so far, it is not remotely enough to make the story not awesome. After the end of the original game, however, many players were unsure if the story could be continued without becoming cheesy or inconsistent. I am extremely glad to report that Sucker Punch found a way. Not once did the story feel cheesy or forced, swamp beasts notwithstanding, and it kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire adventure. The ending was explosively epic, and did not remotely disappoint in terms of scale, twists, pure shock value, or the pain of making excruciatingly hard choices.
- Gameplay: 5/5
Cole dominated Empire city in the original game. He glided, blasted, grinded, and kicked ass all over the huge and oddly grey buildings, but a new game means a new location and a new feel. Is there any place that can surpass the awesomeness of Empire City? Yes there is, and it’s called New Marais.
New Marais, which is essentially New Orleans, is a dark and dirty city that perfectly suits inFamous 2’s new story and attitude. The swamps are filled with all sorts of horrors, and the different districts of New Marais are exponentially more varied than the islands of Empire City. The new city is extremely colorful, older, and more stylized, and Cole has some new powers that make travel around the cesspool of freedom ten times as fun and twenty times as flashy. Depending on your morality, as in the first game, the civilians react differently to your actions and presence, and the good or evil side missions also make a return. These missions have you side with one faction of a large conflict, and the gameplay is usually drastically different depending on which side you pick.
Travel around the city, which has always been a huge draw of inFamous, is smoother than ever. Cole will still feel like he gravitates towards things you try to grab on to, which takes some getting used to, but overall the climbing works extremely well. Combine that with the grind rail system that propels Cole at high speeds all around the various districts and the fact that Cole takes no damage from falls, and you have a formula for extremely fun world traversal, which is a good thing because you will be traveling A LOT. This is an open-world sandbox game after all.
The whole reason Cole heads to New Marais is to get some new powers to help him fight The Beast, so there must be some awesome new abilities, right? Not only are there new abilities, new upgrades, a new melee weapon and new morality bonuses, there are tons of unlockable variations of each category. Remember those special skill moves you could try to pull off in the first game for experience points? Those are back, but on steroids. The moves are cooler, harder to pull off, and are the currency for many new moves. Cole can throw lighting grenades, but if you stick a guy in midair with a grenade more than five times, you can unlock the ability to purchase a new kind of grenade. By the end of the game, if you play your cards right, you will have multiple kinds of bolts, grenades, missiles, transportation powers, and more, all of which are a blast to earn and use. As melee fighting, Cole has abandoned using his super-charged fists for a custom weapon Zeke made for him called the Amp. The Amp looks like a giant tuning fork, and channels Cole’s natural current while he bludgeons bad guys’ faces in. It looks extremely cool, and Cole’s acrobatic fighting style matches his parkour in awesomeness. Unfortunately, inFamous 2’s camera is a bit finicky during some of the melee combat, but it’s not remotely enough to ruin any of the experience.
inFamous 2 has also brought something entirely new with it to New Marais. Sucker Punch has included a deep mission creation system that allows you to craft objectives, cinematics (all using in-game animations and characters of course), and restrict or amplify Cole’s abilities. Any mission you make can be posted online for other people playing inFamous 2 to try out, and you can rate any missions you play. These appear as green side mission markers all over the city, assuming you have an internet connection. Making the levels works pretty well, and some truly fun player-created missions are likely to be uploaded in the future.
The collectibles from the first game also make a big return in inFamous 2. Dead drops and Blast shards (small pieces of radioactive metal that increase Cole’s voltage capacity) have returned en masse, hidden all over New Marais and the surrounding Bayous. The trophies are also a blast to obtain as well, ranging from staying off the ground for an allotted time to hurling enough cars at people, and trying obtaining them all makes inFamous 2 twice as fun to play.
- Graphics: 4/5
The constant pop-in and bland textures that plagued the original inFamous have been all but erased. New Marais is colorful, pretty, and polished, with pop-in only happening during fast rail travel and even then it’s not that bad. Graphically, inFamous 2 is far above its predecessor, but that’s to be expected. As of now, the game is only slightly above average for the current graphical standard. This is mostly due to the game’s awesome comic-based art style, and the insanely high amount of detail on Cole himself. Cole’s animations are fantastic, and the effects of his lightning are second-to-none. The swamp monsters are scary-looking and awesome, and the art style captures the grungy feel of the dirty city perfectly.
- Music: 5/5
The music from the original inFamous had tons of everyday objects-turned to instruments music, which greatly suited the feel of the game. If possible, the returning artists have made the music even more perfect, especially for a dark and dirty city like New Marais. The soundtrack is split in two, with the Blue Soundtrack being more dramatic and melodic, and the Red Soundtrack being darker and more hectic. The best part of the game’s soundtrack however, is the fact that composer Jim Dooley has returned as well, and plays a much larger role in the music this time around. The big confrontations of the game have fully orchestrated music and feel ten times as epic as before, and each main character has their own personal theme, all of which are original and awesome. inFamous 2’s music sounds great, and the voice acting is still top notch. Cole has a new voice actor who suits his character much better, and no longer sounds like he was doing shots of lemon juice.
- Replayability: 4/5
inFamous 2 was built from the ground up to be a two playthrough game. The game plays and ends very differently depending on if you are good or evil. Cole’s appearance and lighting color will change depending on your actions and choices, and you unlock different abilities and powers. Now, overall the story happens relatively the same way no matter what you pick, but unlike the original game, inFamous 2’s ending is completely different for both choices. However, there isn’t much replayability beyond that unless you want to come back for more player-created missions. That being said, it will still take you upwards of 30 hours to see everything the story has to offer.
- Final Grade: 5/5
inFamous 2 is the best open-world sandbox game I have ever played. The story is phenomenal, the powers are awesome, the climbing and parkour is great, and you truly feel like a total badass who controls the fate of the world. The few minor complains about the enemies and camera have little to no impact on the fact that inFamous 2 is one of my favorite games of 2011, and has a story and conclusion that I will remember forever. inFamous 2 earns 5/5 skyscraper-sized volcano men, and I can’t wait to see what Sucker Punch does next with their awesome creative talent.