Review: inFAMOUS 2 (PS3)

Title: inFAMOUS 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Sucker Punch
Price: $59.99 / $99.99 (Hero Edition)
ESRB: T
Extras: PlayStation Move Compatible

This will be a spoiler free review of inFAMOUS 2 so read on without fear of having any surprises ruined in the game. The only story details I’ll go into happen within the first 10-15 minutes. That being said, there will be some spoilers from inFAMOUS (including the ending) since the two are a tightly integrated story. If you don’t want to know how the first game ended, just skip the first paragraph in Gameplay and you’ll be fine.

The game itself is available in two different editions. The standard $59.99 edition comes with the game and an Uncharted 3 Beta code. The Hero Edition includes the U3 Beta Code along with a Super Voucher which gives you several in-game skins, a few new powers, and the Red Soundtrack. It also includes the inFAMOUS #1 Mini Comic, an impressively detailed nine inch statue of Cole and perhaps the best special edition pack in ever, a full size replica messenger bag identical to Cole’s all for $99.99. Either way you can’t go wrong.

Gameplay:
inFAMOUS 2 picks up shortly after the first game ended. Kessler left Cole with the revelation that he actually is Cole from the future and he set Cole up so he’d be powerful enough to fight a coming disaster, The Beast.

The game starts out with a nice motion comic recap of the inFAMOUS and then you’re introduced to NSA Agent Lucy Kuo. She’s going to get you out of Empire City and down the coast to New Marais where you’ll meet a Doctor that worked on the Ray Sphere. There’s a promise of new powers and Cole will need every bit of help he can get to fight the looming threat of The Beast.

The beautiful addition for everyone who played and even beat inFAMOUS is that you’ll be given the choice to continue your Good or Evil Karma story from inFAMOUS 1 (depending on how you played). You’ll also be given bonuses in the form of more XP and Battery Cores at the start of the game based on what you accomplished in the first. It’s a really well thought out complement to the game that helps integrate the story even more. Playing through as Good, I found the many of my specific exploits from the first game were mentioned along the way by other characters and in Dead Drops. It’s very impressive and something I hope other developers will take note of when designing future games with potential sequels.

Behind the Scenes Story Trailer

Before you even get off the dock in Empire City, The Beast appears and you’re thrown into a light tutorial and a fight with him. By the end of it, you’re seriously injured and drained of most of your powers as you make your escape to New Marais. This is actually a good story based way to dial back your powers because at the end of the first game, Cole is incredibly strong and would easily pick apart early enemies in New Marais. The trip down gives your buddy Zeke time to create the Amp. A lightning rod of sorts that helps focus your power during melee attacks. This will become more critical than in the first game because there’s now a twist to how you use your powers. Originally, certain attacks would drain you battery cores but you always had your standard hand bolts at your disposal. Not anymore, because every power you use, including the standard bolts will drain your battery cores. Once they’re depleted, you need to find somewhere to charge up and quick. If you’re only facing one or two armed enemies, the Amp makes a formidable weapon, any more than that however and you’ll probably be gunned down before you can stop them all. It adds another layer of strategy to an already excellent fighting system.

The way you gain and unlock new powers is almost the same as the original game, though the interface for handling them has changed a lot. You can switch between your powers on the fly by pressing left on the d-pad which brings up a quick select menu or by pressing right on the d-pad which brings you into a full menu where you can switch and also purchase any unlocked powers with the XP you’ve gained throughout the game. Coming right out of the first game and into this, it felt like a pretty drastic change and I didn’t like it at first. It quickly became apparent however that this was a really good change to make. When you get into fights with new enemies, you’ll find that not everything works on them and you’ll be swapping powers in and out in a hurry with the quick select menu.

Arriving in New Marais, you’ll find that the city is in the grip of a militia run by a man named Bertrand. This will be the first group of enemies you fight. They’re on the lookout for “freaks” like Cole and they tend to be heavily armed. As the game progresses you’ll encounter two other groups of enemies much like the first game. The difference here is that the second and third groups are unlike anything you faced in Empire City and rather than keeping them all separated on their own islands, you’ll stumble across full scale battles involving all three. You can try to avoid these battles or jump into the fray to gain a bunch of XP. It helps make things feel more alive throughout the city.

Side Missions are back and play an important part as in inFAMOUS. You can ignore them if you want, but completing the quests gain you valuable XP which you’ll use to upgrade your powers and it’ll also free up a portion of the map from enemies. This definitely makes things easier as you’ll no longer be attacked by multiple groups wherever you go. If you’re connected to the PSN, you’ll also start to find new Green side mission icons popping up around the map after the first few missions of the game are completed. These are part of the new User Generated Content.

User Generated Content Trailer

In inFAMOUS, once you’d completed the story missions and side quests, collected all the shards and other collectibles, there wasn’t much else to do but explore the city and fight the occasional enemy that would spawn. inFAMOUS 2 corrects all of that with a way to keep this single player game fresh for years to come.

As User Generated Content appears across the map, you’ll have the option to play it or skip it just like any other side mission. If you play it however, you’ll gain valuable XP and probably have some fun as well. When you approach the green marker, you’ll see the name of the mission, the name of the author, number of people who have played it and an aggregated rating of 1 to 5 stars. As you can see from the trailer above, the missions are really only limited by your imagination.

When you’re ready to create your own missions, the UGC Editor is available from the pause menu. You can start from a set of basic templates and modify them to your hearts content, or you can start from scratch and build your own mission from the ground up featuring text dialogue, starting and end conditions and so on. The editor itself is an incredibly powerful and robust set of tools that allows you to create the mission of your dreams. With such a powerful set of tools though, you’re going to need a lot of patience and a little help. Fortunately, Sucker Punch set up a YouTube Channel with eight tutorials to help you get started. They’ll walk you through everything from Logic Boxes to Triggers and everything in between. If you’re serious about creating content within the game, this is definitely the place to start.

UGC Tutorial #1 – Intro and Mission Templates

When you’re finished creating your masterpiece, you can save it to the hard drive and play it any time you like or upload it for the chance to have others play it. The only trick here is that you have to actually play through and beat your mission before you can upload it. It’s called Play to Publish and it helps keep things honest by limiting the potential junk that could fill the servers pretty quickly. Other developers need to take note here because the UGC is a very strong addition to the game and a unique way to breathe new life into a single player experience long after it’s been completed.

Another nice addition to the game is the humor. The first game had such a serious tone to it but this time around, Sucker Punch has tried to lighten things up a bit. It helps make the characters more human when you can hear them laugh about some of the situations they find themselves in. It makes a big difference in the game as it pops up all over the place and usually when you’d least expect it.

You’ll still face the “stickiness” of Cole when moving from object to object and it can still be troublesome at times, but it appears to be a necessary trade off to make all the climbing, grabbing and jumping work across the entire city. I’ve also run into the same problems I had around the blast site in inFAMOUS where Cole has trouble around broken objects and buildings, but it’s much less prevalent here. There’s still some pop in here and there but it’s really negligible compared to inFAMOUS. I also ran into some issues with walking through walls and Dead Drops falling into near impossible to reach places, but these were few and far between. Overall the game is much more polished and solid than the first game.

Bigger and better is the order of the day here and although the city itself is smaller, the battles you fight, even mini bosses, tend to be more epic and on a larger scale than anything you did in Empire City and it all works out great.

Visuals:
Based on New Orleans, New Marais is nothing like Empire City. It didn’t suffer the devastating blast of a Ray Sphere and it’s set in the marshlands of the Southeast. The colors are more vibrant, the architecture looks much more varied and the lighting has taken a huge leap from the first game.

The city itself is broken into two islands unlike Empire City’s three and it’s much smaller overall. The first island has a historical district with a very “Bourbon Street” atmosphere with the center of the island dominated by a large cathedral. The humor is evident all over this part of the island with NPC’s wandering by muttering great one liners. There’s also a group of movie theaters showing such fare as “Hey, Low Reach”, “Little Big Unit”, “Epic Hickey”, “Call of Booty” and many more.

The second island consists of Flood Town and a large industrial area. Water physics and lighting effects really shine here and half of this island is underwater. You’ll only have the tops of houses and buildings and wires to make you way around here. The good thing is, the water isn’t very deep, giving you the opportunity to use it to your advantage. Lighting up enemies with some electricity when they jump in the water shows off some great effects. Epic boss battles area also a great place for the developers to really shine the spotlight on some great smoke, fire, lighting and destructible object effects in the game’s engine. Everything just looks better and cleaner than Empire City.

The motion comic cutscenes are back and they fit in perfectly. The style and direction is exactly what the game needs in those moments to advance the story in a nicely stylized way. Cole’s appearance also changes along the way depending on which karmic path you chose to take and it all looks great. Bosses are suitably frightening as you look up at 50 to 100 foot enemies wondering what it’s going to take to stop them. The scale of these battles, with all the characters on screen, the explosions, the lighting effects from your powers all look amazing, then you throw an Ionic Vortex into the mix (basically a tornado with lightning popping out of it) and things really get crazy. The physics and lighting engine handles it all with ease. It’s really a sight to see.

Audio:
Sucker Punch hired an excellent group of musicians who looked to New Orleans for inspiration when writing the music for the game. For an excellent Behind the Scenes look at the music of inFAMOUS 2, check out the June 2011 Episode of Qore (#37) on the PlayStation Store. There’s an in depth discussion with the composers as they talk about influences and choices of instruments which all give the game a unique sound. The Red Soundtrack is available with the Hero Edition of the game and the Blue Soundtrack is available on the PlayStation Store for $9.99. They’re both very much worth picking up.

The general sound effects all fit perfectly within the game. You’ll hear enemies and gunshots all around you with Surround Sound. Larger enemies will not only shake your controller but also the floor with rumbling bass. All in all, the sound design is very solid and helps keep you immersed in the game.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wasn’t a fan of the change in Cole’s voice actor, especially going directly from one game to the other, but he grew on me and now I’m going to have hard time going back. The voice acting throughout the game is superb. You can tell that they spent a lot of time making sure every line read had the proper weight to it no matter what was being said.

Overall, the sound design is very impressive, from the music to the sound effects and to the voice acting. Everything here is top notch.

Conclusion:
Sucker Punch has delivered another winner. Building on a solid game that had some smaller technical and pacing issues, inFAMOUS 2 not only delivers a more exciting game with tighter pacing, but a fitting bookend to the story started in inFAMOUS. Story can make or break a game like this and the fact that it all comes together the way it does is even more impressive considering the differences when playing with Good Karma or Evil Karma. The developers walked a tightrope here through two games and they were able to come across triumphant with inFAMOUS 2.

Score:
9.5

inFAMOUS 2 Launch Trailer

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • nice review

  • Those bits of map on inFamous 2 are usually down to a hidden package or patrol mission triggered by killing a random militia member or merc … just wander around that general area for a bit and kill thugs til one pops up with a side mission icon over his body…

    • Yeah they were hidden packages. Went back and killed the same 2 guys I killed a dozen times before (probably never fully “killed” them) and the hidden package hunt was on. Cleared the whole island last night

  • Anonymous

    G4’s Attack of the Show was giving out U3 Beta codes. Every single time I was too slow. Maybe it is the latency of the Satellite signal (I use Dish) that causes me to always be too slow, as a cable person would probably see the codes pop up on the screen first.

  • Danny Aindow

    Great review, just got my copy today.  Really excited about the UGC, you had much of a play with it?

    • I played it exclusively for several hours last night.  I’d recommend staying away from the “Latest” levels in the filters, there tends to be a lot of garbage in there.  The “Featured” filter will give you the best missions by far.  It’s really fun seeing what people are coming up with.

      • Jason Kibbe

        Your best bet for UGC is to go to infamousthegame.com and use the filters there (like highest rated, most favorited)…

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

    • Just Cause 2 like a MoFo!

      I have the Hero Edition as well, I use the messenger bag every day lol.  You’re gonna love the game.

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I was lucky enough to get the Hero Edition and i love it. Sadly I’ve had to many games I want to complete (or platinum) before I get into Infamous 2 properly*. From what I have played and just read I’m looking forward to finishing this game, twice.

    *Platinum Just Cause 2 being one of them, thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I got myself a copy of the Hero edition and it’s worth every penny!

    • Danny Aindow

      I didnnt go for the hero edition but the bag looked so good i picked one up off eBay, love it so much i’m thinking of buying a second one in case anything ever happens to the first one!  Now that the updated cole has really grown on me i want the figure too…

      Grabbed just cause 2 for £3.50 on steams daily sale yesterday, looks fun from the first couple of missions.

      • Anonymous

        The figure is awesome.  All the in-game bonus powers came in handy.  I also got a pretty cool poster from Gamestop as part of the Hero Edition

  • I adored the first Infamous, must get round to buying this one. Great review.

  • Did they ever give a real reason why they changed Cole? Demographics? Probs with the OG voice actor? Or was it just to make us talk about the game more? Anyhow, the game looks great. Nice review by Josh.

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  • I know this is a late comment but here goes, cause I just got it.
    I was SO excited to play with MOVE! As you know there ain’t much to play in terms of full titles for MOVE. But no matter how many times I calibrate my curser soon slips to the right and I have to point LEFT to aim center. SO SAD.

    • Interesting.  I tried the Move controls and they worked fine for me.  I’m more comfortable with the conventional controls though.

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