Superheroes are all the rage nowadays. From Nolanís Batman to the Marvel movies to Watchmen getting a film adaptation, and even Seth Rogan becoming a masked vigilante in Green Hornet, superheroes seem to be the pop culture flavor of the 2000ís so far. But picture this: A superhero who doesnít adapt a dramatic name or put on a costume and mask to hide his identity. Such a superhero is Cole MacGrath, who has enough electric power to give Static Shock a run for his money. This is infamous 2, the second game in Sucker Punchís sandbox superhero games.
Story wise, the sequel picks up right where the first game left off. You once again step into the shoes of Cole MacGrath and you have just learned about an incoming threat to humanity that will bring forth the apocalypse. And you, a bike messenger boy who just recently had the role of a super powered hero thrust upon you, are the only one who can possibly stop it. This is all recapped to you in the opening monologue by Cole and his new voice actor that doesnít sound like Solid Snake impersonating Batman. Oh waitÖremember how at the end of the first game we learned about that incoming threat to humanity was coming years in the future? Yeah scratch that, heís here RIGHT NOW. Oops. After getting your ass handed to you by the monster, you run away across the country to meet up with a scientist who supposedly has a way to enhance your powers and make you strong enough to defeat the beast, who is so creatively named The Beast. Iíll leave it at that, but the story was fleshed out pretty well with plenty of nice little twists. Unlike the first game though, the story has two completely different endings depending on what your karmic alignment is, so that serves as an actual incentive for a second playthrough.
One of the first things I noticed was that this game was overall much lighter in its tone and atmosphere compared to the first one. The bright, colorful bayou town of New Marais contrasts the dark, gloomy and gray environment of Empire City from infamous 1. Dead bodies arenít littered all over the streets and it seems the models of the AI citizens donít have as many ďclonesĒ. As usual the civilians say the darndest things. And this time around, the Civilian AI has given them the sense to get the heck away from danger rather than get in your way and cause you to kill them and get Evil Points, which is a pain in the butt if youíre aiming to get Good Karma.
Even Cole as a character is new and improved, as this time he actually has a personality and emotions. Though I had to warm up to his new voice, his new VA definitely gave the character more depth and personality and to that you must give him credit whether you love him or hate him. The nice yet wise-cracking Cole is a stark contrast to the perpetually brooding and angry Cole from before, which makes him much more relatable. Even Zeke, your gun-toting sidekick, got an upgrade in the sense that heís actually helpful in this game.
When it comes to your butt kicking tools, inFAMOUS 2 delivers. In addition to your powers from the last game, you have some explosive new ones added to your arsenal. Because your power is Electricity, they came up with some pretty creative ways to utilize it. You can do everything from fire Electric Grenades to Electric Rockets, and can even summon a giant bolt of lightning to destroy your enemies! But of course, abilities like these have to be gauged in some way and you do have an electricity meter at the top of the screen. Another change from the first game is that when that meter runs outÖ.youíre done. When your electricity gauge has depleted, you cannot fire any electric projectiles, not even the basic bolt. When this happens, itís time to recharge. But itís not so easy this time around. In the first game your environment was a big city, so there was energy available to recharge yourself virtually everywhere; you could suck the electricity out of street lamps, cars, neon signs on buildings. However your environment this time is a country town in the bayou so energy sources can be far and few between, especially when your mission brings you to a swamp or some other place in the middle of nowhere. Midway through the game, you can gain either Ice Powers or Fire Powers in addition to your electricity powers which makes for even more interesting ways to conjure up destruction on the bad guys (or on the innocents if you are playing as Evil Cole.). I didnít really care for the Melee combat this time around, though. You have a new Melee weapon called The Amp that you swing at your enemies. While it makes for some admittedly awesome animations for the finisher moves, I found it to be rather slow and clunky compared to punching and kicking them. Not to mention, the Amp makes it easy to hit someone you donít mean to hit with your swings.
Because this is a sandbox game, there are many side missions to be completed around the town. They did get much more creative with the side missions this time but side missions usually never interest me in these types of games. As the saying goes, ďif you want something done right, do it yourself,Ē so thatís why you have the ability to design your own side missions and share them with other players over the PlayStation network! Another welcome change is that you donít have to go through a tedious sewer level every time you need to obtain a new ability; instead, all you have to do is absorb a Blast Core and you automatically absorb the new power. I guess Cole got tired of smelling bad, especially since he canít shower due to water naturally being his weakness.
What makes this series stand out a bit is the karma system. Basically, performing good deeds like saving citizens in trouble and doing Good side missions gives you Blue Karma. Cole starts out neutral but as you level up and become more and more good, you begin to take on a shiny new look. Citizens will love you and help defend you when you are attacked on the street by enemies, and they will even get the confidence to defend themselves. More and more police will be on the streets and they are also a big help since they have guns. Doing bad deeds and ignoring civilians in trouble nets you Red Karma (evil). Cole will take on a darker look, become rather mean, the other characters in the story will have different reactions to him, and it will essentially turn everyone in the game into an enemy, as the Civilians on the street, the Police, the Enemies, and basically ALL the factions will be out for your blood when you are playing as Evil Cole (but at the same time, you can feel free to do whatever you want to defend yourself and not have to worry about collateral damage).
Graphically, the game is magnificent. In this regard, glitches are much more rare than in the first game. It looks and animates much more smoothly.
While inFAMOUS is a great game, everything about inFAMOUS 2ís gameplay is completely new and improved. The characters are even better, the karma system feels more natural, and as aforementioned there are two completely different endings. Itís the cream of the crop for superhero games rivaled only perhaps by the Batman Arkham games. A definite must play for the PS3.