Saturday, June 25, 2011

Infamous 2 - Review

Note: This is a very outdated review of Infamous 2. The following review does not reflect the standards we have set for NGR, and because of this the review may be revamped at a future date.

InFamous was a game that came out a few years ago for the PS3, and it was a one that a lot of people saw as a rival to Prototype. Although both games have some things in common, they are both completely different games, and they both have their strong points. Despite there being quite a few major differences, inFamous is still seen by some as a "rip off." If you're one of them people, hopefully this review will change your mind.

InFamous starts out with a man named Cole MacGrath who is sent out to deliver a package to someone. Yep, that's actually all Cole knows, I'm not just summing it up. Anyway as Cole was bringing this package to whoever ordered it something strange happened. The package went off.

Turns out the package was a type of bomb that ended up destroying a huge part of Empire City (a city based off of NY) and kills millions. As for Cole? Well the game starts with Cole waking up in the middle of a crater when he quickly notices something strange. It appears that the "bomb" gave Cole superhuman electric powers and it's now up to Cole to decide how to use them.

After the bomb went off the city went into lock down, Cole fully recovered and learned how to use his new found powers, and a plague began to spread like wild fire. Cole and his best friend Zeke try their best to survive in the city, as well as escape, but all of this was just the start of their adventure.

Cole ends up being contacted by an FBI agent who tells Cole that she'll get him out of the city if he'd help her find her missing husband and the secret project he was investgating, the bomb that started everything, the Ray Sphere.

Throughout the game players are able to decided just what kind of person Cole will be come. Will he become a hero? Or will he become everyone's greatest fear? Everything is controled by a karma system which also ends up effecting just what type of powers you will gain, how the people in the city will treat you, what type of missions open up, and even how the game ends.

As you play through the game you'll learn about the group that created the Ray Sphere, how it turns anyone with a special gene into a "super powered freak," and about the man who put the whole plan into action, Kessler.

InFamous 2 opens up with a flash back explaining the major events that happened during inFamous 1. The opening uses a comic book style that was also used for just about EVERY cutscene from the original game. Even though a lot of people loved this style and thought it really made the game stand out, inFamous 2 decides to pretty much do away with it and go down the normal animated cutscene route like most games (however there are a few exceptions).

Before I go any farther I'll tell you right now that inFamous 2 DOES spoil just about everything inFamous 1 had to offer, however because they cover the past so well it also makes it an easy game for new fans to pick up and play. You really do NOT have to play the original, but I do recommend that you at least try it out before you play this game. I would also like to take a moment to warn you guys about spoilers. Yes for once one of my reviews will have some spoilers, however I will try to keep them minor and they will mostly cover the first game.

InFamous 2 actually starts out not too long after the end of inFamous 1 and it shows the moment this massive conduit, known as "The Beast," appears in the city. At the end of inFamous 1 Kessler shows Cole the future and finally shows his true colors. Apparently Cole is the only one who can stop this conduit, and if he doesn't the world will be destroyed. Yeah it can sound a bit stupid, but it's actually a really good way to start out both the game and the story.

In inFamous 2 you start out with pretty much ALL of your main powers and you'll find yourself fighting this massive boss right from the get go. The game will use the boss fight to teach you the bascis of attacking, and then you'll find yourself learning basic platforming skills. The game really helps you get used to the controls, and it really makes sure that you know everything you need to know. The training in this game is actually fun, it's related to the story, and it's very easy to go through. Even though you cannot skip the training (which a lot of people like to do during their second + playthrough of a game) it doesn't really matter. There's a pretty good chance that you'll actually WANT to do it again!

Just like the last game, inFamous 2 is a fully open world sandbox style game. You're free to run around the city, climb up buildings, beat up random people, do random side jobs that pop up (such as stop someone from being mugged), access side quests, blow up cars, and do just about whatever else you can think of.

In inFamous 1 the city based on NY seemed pretty plain and you would end up seeing the same type of areas over and over again. There just really wasn't much of a verity to make any single area stand out, it just all blended together. Well inFamous 2 changed all of that! InFamous 2's city is based on New Orleans, and it really does show.

When you first get to New Marais you'll find yourself in a city with a lot to see. There's your normal smaller housing areas, bigger city areas, parks, swamps, vacation/hotel areas, and just about whatever else you'd expect to see in a city or in New Orleans. As you get farther into the game however, you will be able to access other areas included a flooded town. Really the game may bring back some bad memories for some, but it is nice to see that they included their own version of real life into the game.
Although inFamous 2 does have a lot in common with the original, there have been some core changes to the gameplay, and a lot of changes made to the overall story set up.

Besides having the game's graphics updated, Cole's design changed, and the new Voice Actor, powers work a little bit differently than they did in the past game. Some of the powers have been tweeked to either be faster, slower, or stronger, and some have been 100% redone. Really this could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, but it actually depends on the person. I myself see these changes as an improvement, and I really love the new power switching ability.

In the original game powers mostly were just upgraded, or they'd end up replacing old powers, but that just isn't the case with 2. Now when you get new powers you actually keep the old version of it as well! Yep thats right, you can freely switch between every power have had at any point in time. Got the slower long range upgrade for your normal sock? Well dont worry because you're shorter range faster version is still there as well! Some fans actually didn't like the idea of being able to switch powers like this, but it did allow the devs to add more powers to the game. That's a plus in my book.

This time around Cole has a lot of powers and abilities. As I said before, Cole is free to climb up just about any ledge, he has basic jump abilities, and he can also dodge roll. However since this is a super hero game, Cole also is able to use his powers to pull off a few little tricks.

By using your electric power you'll be able to slow your fall/glide after you have jumped. This is one of the main, and first, powers in the game and players must put it to good use. You won't be able to make most jumps without it, so it's a very good idea to practice using it and it'll most likely be one of your main ways to travel.

Besides flying off of buildings, Cole will also be able to make use of power lines to get from point to point. By stepping on any type of rope/bar that's powered by an electric current, you'll be able to grind across it at high speeds! It's a pretty creative idea, and it's also one of them things that's just fun to do!

Right now you might be saying to yourself "all of that is cool and all, but what about attacks?" Well dont worry, Cole packs quite a punch this time around! Besides being given a melee weapon that you can pull off combos with, Cole also sports his different shocking powers. Electric powered sniping, shooting, electrid nades, and even electric powered tornados that rip through the city! Cole's just got about everything you'd ever need to take down the bad guys that get in your way!

You do start out with only a few powers, but you quickly gain access to more by unlocking them with XP points that you earn for clearing missions/taking out enemies. Now this XP system is pretty cool but currently there's one small problem with it. By entering a User Generated Content mission and opening the upgrade list, you can spend XP without actually spending it. Yep say you have 5000 XP and you bought a power that costs 1000 XP, you still have you're 5000. Right now it's hard to say if the glitch will be fixed, but I'm sure Sucker Punch knows about it by now so we'll just have to wait in see.

Really this glitch doesn't ruin the game at all, but it can make the game a lot easier than it should be, so it can really take away from the fun of unlocking them powers.

Although Cole has always had his best friend Zeke, who adds comedy to the game, by his side, I always felt that Cole was missing something. However that something has finally been added to the game!

In inFamous 2 you'll come across two main female characters with super powers as well. One of them is the "hero" while the other is the "infamous" type character. Both of these characters pretty much become like a sidekick to Cole and they both have their own types of powers that Cole is able to use to his advantage.
Throughout the game both female characters will have missions of their own and it'll be up to the player to pick who they want to side with. Really these missions mostly have the same outcome no matter who you side with, but they will effect your karma and how the world sees you. One character may come up with a plan to free a group of cops to help break into a building, while the other has the plan to crash into the building with a burning buss. It's up to you to decide which plan is the "better plan."

About half way through the game a few events end up changing Cole's life forever and you're able to take on some new powers. If you decide to side with the hero you'll gain ice powers, while siding with the infamous side will get you fire powers. Sure electric powers are STILL the main focus, but with the new powers added in you'll be able to change things up a bit. I really don't want to spoil just what all these new powers can do, but they are a VERY VERY nice addition to the game, and it really helps change things up. As an added bonus, if you complete the game and get both the Hero and Infamous ending, you will be able to unlock both fire and ice for post game fun.

As you play through the game you will be able to do a lot of different side quests. Sometimes you'll be walking along and you'll see a cry for help, sometimes you'll find a way to cause chaos, and other times you can just simply agree to take on normal side quests. Although most of these quests dont effect the story, you will gain control over different parts of the city by doing them and they can also unlock new powers for you.
When you start out the game the enemies have full control over the city and they'll be pretty much running wild in the streets. By beating side quests you'll be able to chase them out of the area, make it safer for you to travel, and you'll also gain quite a lot of XP. Although there are only so many types of side quests to do, the game does keep it pretty spread out so you shouldn't get tired of doing something too soon. I will say that I felt that WAS a problem in the original game, but 2 took care of it.

As for the story missions, they are also very spread out. There are a few missions where you have to protect a target/a car that you're rinding on the back of (which I HATED doing in the original game), take down huge bosses, or simply make your way to a new area. Even though you do end up doing different versions of the same type of mission, things do stay pretty well ballanced out so once again you shouldn't get tired of doing the same thing.

Besides all of these extra side missions and story missions to do, there are also items to collect hidden allover the city which are also important to the game. Really I'm not a huge fan of collection quests, but thanks to your radar things shouldn't be too much of a problem. Blast Shards are objects that will actually let you store more energy, and Dead Drops will show you parts of the story that happened behind the scenes. Both of these objects are pretty important, but they mostly end up becoming items you go after only when you see them. Sure it's recommended that you get them all, but you shouldn't feel pressured into doing so.
(Picture from the suckerpunch forums)

User Generated Content is another feature that was added into inFamous 2 and it might be one of the biggest parts of the game. By using the UGC feature players are able to create just about ANYTHING they can think of! Just think of it as Little Big Planet inFamous.

Besides having the ability to create normal missions, players can also create mini games, npcs to talk to, little cutscenes, and new styles of gameplay. What happens if you combind all of these features? Well you might just be able to make your own inFamous game!

The UGC does have a limit, but don't let it stop you. With a little bit of creativity, you can make just about anything and that alone can add a LOT of replay value to this game.

As for the hero and infamous playthroughs, things actually tend to be the same when it comes to the story. Sure people might like/hate you, but nothing really changes all that much until the very end. Unlike in inFamous 1, this game actually has two completely different endings based on what path you decided to go down. So yeah, the main game might stay the same but the ending changes a LOT!
InFamous 2 also has an easy and hard mode, but I'll be honest. They're all a joke. Even though the game wasn't that hard to start with, I did find that an easy/normal hero playthrough is a LOT harder than a infamous hard playthrough. It may be because of all the explosions and crazy strong powers you get for being infamous, but it still doesn't change the fact that it was a LOT easier.

If you're looking for a very hard/challenging game, stick to the UGC or make some levels of your own. InFamous 2 does have some challenges here and there, but overall the game isn't that hard but it is still fun to play.

So what would I rate this game? Well it's now one of my favorite games out there, but a fair rating would have to be around a 7.5/10. On my personal list I've given this game a 10/10 but there are still some problems with it. Some fans hate the new voice actor/core gameplay changes, the cam angle can be a bit funny at times, sometimes Cole doesn't want to climb right, and he locks onto whatever the nearest platform is. Really it isn't that big of a problem, but it can be a pain when you're trying to jump over a fence and find yourself landing right on top of it.

Still dont let these small problems stop you from playing the game. There's a pretty long demo up on PSN for download, and there's a lot of gameplay videos online. I'd say check them out and see if this is the kind of game you'd like. Even if you do buy the game and end up not liking it, at least it comes with the Uncharted 3 Beta. So that's a plus right there!

Either way, I hope they make inFamous 3, and if they do I really can't wait!