PS3 Review – inFamous 2

June 10, 2011Written by Corey Schwanz

As before decision and morality are the basis of the inFamous franchise, and the second game takes it to a higher level. The decisions you choose and side missions available are not the only definitions of good and evil this time around. Two new characters, Kuo and Nix, are the embodiments of the moral decisions that Cole makes. These two externalize the struggles of choices that you are forced into, and add a unique twist to the game. Cole can enhance his own powers with one of the two women depending on his karmic flavor: Ice for Good and Fire for Evil. Through this different attack powers and platforming abilities are unlocked and it once again shapes the way you play the game. And considering that there are different cutscenes, different missions, and a different ending depending on the route you take, there are essentially two different stories here.

The level design of inFamous 2 is something definitely to admire. From the layout of each of the different burrows of New Marais, to the actual construction of the buildings, it totally accentuates the gameplay. New electric poles line the sides of buildings that act the same as the power lines do across the rooftops. Climbing is the same as before, but these new launching poles blast you up and add a new thrill to navigating to the city skies. Also, something so small but drastically changes the gameplay is that certain buildings in the environment are destructible. Want to take out a whole group of soliders in a single blow? Launch a couple of grenades at the floor they’re standing on and watch them all fall to their death as the building crumbles apart. Looking to sneak into the enemy’s hideout and surprise them? Climb up on top and blow off the roof and smack them down. The world really is at your disposal.

My only real frustrations with inFamous 2 are progression related, but I can’t complain too much as I have no real way to fix them either. First, while the game is obviously dependent on the karma choices you make, the experience levels are achieved way to early in the game. Going through a Good playthrough, I hardly did any of the sidequests at all, just chose good actions in story missions, and I got to the third Karma rank before halfway through the game. I didn’t receive full Karma (and the trophy) until later, but after I had access to the final level for powers fairly early in the game. It felt that I was given too many advanced powers too early in the game. If one actually goes through and DOES the side missions, this probably would happen even earlier. This problem probably could have been solved by keeping the karma ranks locked until a certain story mission in the game.

Conversely, there were some base powers that weren’t given until surprisingly far into the game. They feel like series staples, but I didn’t have access to them until much later on so they just felt unnecessary. By that time I already had a set strategy how I liked to approach a situation, and it went completely under utilized. Once again, progression is key. Unlocking base powers should be a priority in the beginning of the game while upgrading to more advanced versions should be locked until later on.

The biggest announcement for inFamous 2 though, despite all these wonderful changes, is the addition of User-Generated Content, or UGC. Announced at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference, UGC fundamentally solves the problem of the first inFamous game in one move. After you collect all of the Blast Shards, find all of the Dead Drops, and finish all of the side missions, there isn’t much left to do. By cleaning up the city, the first inFamous turned into an open world with no enemies to fight. inFamous 2 solves this all by never letting the game truly be “finished.” Even after getting the Platinum trophy, players can wander around the city and play with the new UGC missions. Finally, you never have to wonder “Well what now?” No one ever thought something like this would be possible in an open-world game, but the problem was already solved when no one was even thinking it would be possible.

“Play. Create. Share.” started by LittleBigPlanet is perfectly applicable to this game as well. The creation tools are fairly intuitive, more like LBP2 that the original. The controls are fairly simple, but deep. What’s also exciting is that since it isn’t story related, none of the missions have to stick to the canon to make sense. Platforming games, tower-defense style missions, I even played a modded version of the arcade classic Skee-ball. You will never again run out of stuff to do in inFamous 2, and it makes a world of difference.

Parallels have been made between Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch for some time, and their work seems to follow a similar pattern. While Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and the original inFamous were certainly great games, they had their own share of little flaws. But it was their sequels that truly showed where the vision would shine. By making the game world feel alive, and having all the elements of the game underline the true meanings of choice and decision, inFamous 2 is a masterpiece of game design and execution.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Beautiful marriage of gameplay and story

+ UGC creates new experiences, never letting the game end

– Progression and experience could be tweaked a bit

9 out of 10

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