The only word that could possibly describe the way I felt after playing inFAMOUS in 2009 is “thunderstruck”. Once I’d finished it I was left craving more and, now, a little over two years later, the next in the series has been released. The sequel takes the greatest ideas of the first and amps them up in a brand new setting named New Marais that is just outright electrifying in Louisiana style. The series is built upon three ideas: free roaming in a believable city, extremely imaginative super powers and morality intertwined with every feature of the game. Sucker Punch took those three things and made a hit, but can lightning strike twice?
inFAMOUS 2 starts off where the first one ended. (FIRST GAME SPOILER INCOMING!) Cole finds out that Kessler is himself from the future who came back to change the past so Cole will be powerful enough to fight off a creature known as “The Beast”. He gets a tip from NSA Agent, Kuo, that Dr. Wolfe in New Marais can help him defeat the monster. The story here is nothing to brag about but it gets the job done well enough that you can follow it and become invested. Although the story itself may fall short, the way the game introduces choice through morality is a plus. There are certain moments where the player can opt for a good or evil deed which then affects the outcome of the narrative. For example, halfway through you can choose the honest Agent Kuo’s ice powers or the destructive, napalm-like powers of Nix. Who you pick will decide who Cole forms a bond with, while ostracizing the other for a little while. The story is not award-winning but the way you can influence it with your morality is a very interesting twist.
The city of New Marais is one of my all-time favorite fictional cities in gaming because of all the work put into making it feel like a living breathing copy of New Orleans. Its citizens are aware of the impending doom the approach of “The Beast” signifies and live in awe of the city’s many other power-wielders. They will also, depending on your actions, come to fear you or regard you as a hero. The city is made up of a few main areas that are quite varied in looks but each represent New Orleans just as well as the other. Once out of the introductory bayou section, players find themselves in a French Quarter-style sector that is filled from corner-to-corner with people. It’s a treat for the eyes as it encompasses a few imagined historical landmarks, while neon lights and beautiful balconies adorn a lot of the buildings. On the other hand, not only the good of New Orleans is referenced. New Marais also had its own problem with flooding, embodied in the parish consequently named Floodtown. Water is everywhere and everything is torn apart, buildings are halfway submerged and the only livable areas are the shanty towns built upon dry spots. This is the closest you could get to New Orleans without visiting it yourself.
There is no other game that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with inFAMOUS 2 when it comes to making the player actually feel like a superhero or villain. Cole McGrath has been imbued with electric-based powers, which allows him to shoot out electric bolts, throw static grenades and even infuse the air around him with it in order to hover for short amounts of time. The game builds on these powers, changing them depending on your moral standing. For example, being good nets you a rapid fire for your lightning bolts while leading a life of evil will earn you cluster grenades. Outside of his powers, Cole got himself a new melee weapon called The Amp; effectively a lightning rod that Cole can charge up and beat people with and deliver shocking results. The greatest part about all of these abilities is that it doesn’t make the game unbalanced but it gives you the feeling that you’re unstoppable. The difficulty is tuned just right, so that you get a challenge without encroaching on what makes inFAMOUS so unique and amazing.
The game, although single-player only, is packed with enough content to justify a $60 purchase. The campaign lasts a good while and you get two very different variations of the game to playthrough. On top of that, you also get something that is different than most action games: its mission creator. From either a template or from scratch you are able to create your own missions in the game that can be as simple as a race right up to a very complex assassination. There are a ton of tools to work with but, in my honest opinion, I think it’s a bit too complex for the average player to wrap their head around.
Overall, there’s no doubting inFAMOUS 2 is a hit, the game delivers on all fronts and does everything exceptionally well, sans the average story. It has a good bit of replayability from the variation in missions, the complete change of gameplay from different morality stances as well as the extensive mission creator. If you’re looking to get your superhero (or villain) fix, this is the best game in recent years to capture that feeling. This is a must have for any PlayStation 3 owner who considers themselves a fan of the open-world action genre.
Developer: Sucker Punch.
Genre: Open-World Action.
Time: I personally got 12 to 15 hours per playthrough.
Gripes: The mission creator is a bit complicated and the story is a little average.
Get it for: The feeling of being a superhero; no other game provides this to the degree inFAMOUS 2 does.