inFAMOUS is arguably one of the most fun games of this generation. Just like its sequel, it puts you in the shoes of Cole McGrath, a bike messenger who is imbued with electrical super powers. The catch is, this was caused by a huge explosion which killed thousands and created a few other super beings. The sequel picks up fairly soon after the first game ends. A destructive creature called The Beast has arrived in Empire City and Cole can’t beat it. After an exciting opening to the game, Cole and his buddy Zeke head to New Marais - a fictional town based on New Orleans - where he has been told he can find a way to become more powerful in order to defeat the beast.
Right from the start, Cole is pretty powerful. There are a few powers you had in the first game which are simply not there this time; however, for the most part, you can hit the ground running strong. If you played the first game (and you really should considering you can now get it for free as part of Sony’s Welcome Back pack for the PSN debacle), you will be instantly familiar with how inFAMOUS 2 plays. The controls are almost exactly the same, as is the parkour you use to move around the open world.
Movement seems to be a strong feature for this series. The best improvement made here is in the animation department. Cole looks a lot better moving around and climbing up buildings. It actually reminded me a bit of Assassin’s Creed; not in how it controls, but how well it was animated. The fact that New Marais is a more attractive city is also a plus. Here you have bright colours, swamps, more active citizens and much more beautiful architecture. While jumping, gliding and grinding electric cables from rooftop to rooftop is just as awesome and fun, climbing up buildings is just as uninteresting as it was in the first game too. Some buildings have electric poles that boost Cole up, but why every building doesn’t have one or two of these is something I cannot understand. An area of the city you later get to called Flood Town is great to move around in, because there are very few high buildings. It’s mostly normal-sized houses surrounded by flooded water, which makes traveling around there feel super cool.
Speaking of super cool, while having electric powers is just as awesome as last time, you also get to choose between extra ice or fire-based powers. Neither of these are major game changers, but they definitely add some cool new toys to Cole’s arsenal. Which powers you get is based on which ones you unlock by performing certain stuns and navigating the game’s Karma system. Once again, Cole gets to make some very black and white choices to either be a hero or more of a villain. While these choices are still just as binary, they are at least handled much better within the story of the game and can lead to two very different endings.
While the comic book-style cinematics of the first game return, they are far less frequent and most of the story is told through motion captured cutscenes. The story is told much better this time around; the characters are more interesting, the scenarios have more intrigue and the relationships formed actually matter. There are a few things I feel they could have done better and some opportunities feel missed, but this is still a big improvement from the last game. I am very curious to see how fans of the series react to the two endings — personally I found the evil ending to be emotionally superior.
Speaking of good versus evil, inFAMOUS 2 really begs to be played twice in order to experience everything it has to offer. Not only are certain powers locked to which karma you have, but so are some of the side quests and which characters will come to your aid throughout the game. I am also happy to report that playing good or evil are equally fun with useful powers for both.
You may have noticed throughout this review I’ve written “much like the first game” or something to that affect. This is possibly the biggest criticism of the game; for a sequel it hasn’t really raised the bar too high or improved all that much. The gameplay is still solid and fun but the formula was getting a little tired by the end of the game. It would have been nice if the developers took a few more risks and were a bit more creative for their powers, enemies and quests. I am not saying these things were all bad; far from it. But they are just a little bit too similar to the first game. One thing that is bad, however, is the camera, mostly when using the new melee system. The new and somewhat improved melee system tries to pull the camera in for some cinematic action; the problem with this is it often obscures your vision and leaves you with no idea as to what you are going to hit next or what is happening around you.
In the end, inFAMOUS 2 is a good sequel, but not one that ups the ante in any real way. Anyone who enjoyed the first game will most likely love the sequel, just don’t expect a leap in quality like you see in some other sequels. If you are looking for a fun game where you get to truly feel like a powerful superhero, look no further than inFAMOUS 2.