The original inFAMOUS is without doubt one of the best super-hero games ever devised. Developed by Sucker Punch, the ambitious open-world title told an original story of a regular man bestowed with extraordinary powers. Through the game’s Karma system, players took up the narrative reins, steering lead protagonist Cole McGrath towards good or evil.
Furthermore, the game also managed to refine many of the mechanics and features championed by leading third person shooters, Gears of War and Uncharted. Combining these elements with a suite of electric-based powers, the creators of Sly Raccoon had struck gold once again. More than four years after its release, inFAMOUS still holds up remarkably well is definitely one of the best PlayStation exclusives to ever hit the market.
With widespread acclaim, it’s no surprise that Sucker Punch immediately got to work on a sequel. However, when inFAMOUS 2 was first shown to the public at Sony’s E3 2010 press conference, the overall reaction was mixed to say the least.
A lot of the negativity was poised at Cole McGrath himself. Since ground zero and his ordeal in Empire City, the protagonist underwent a number of cosmetic changes. Firstly, the generic buzz cut was gone. Then a myriad of tattoos began to appear. Finally, it was announced that Eric Laden (The Killing) would take over as voice actor. Personally, I was completely fine with the changes: if anything they added some much needed character, though it wasn’t to be.
Responding to feedback, something much closer to the old Cole McGrath returned, suited and booted for his adventure in New Marais.
As with the original inFAMOUS, the sequel’s main strengths lay within both narrative and gameplay. Leading directly on from the events of the original, Cole narrowly avoids death as an entity known as “The Beast” manifests and begins obliterating Empire City. In search of new powers and a way to thwart this powerful foe, he and Zeke travel to New Marais, a southern American city likened to New Orleans.
Throughout the game you encounter a number of key characters, some of which have powers of their own. The main takeaway however was the introduction of “Conduits”, this concept that a minority of the population have powers waiting to be awakened. The Karma system also made a return and, even though it hadn’t evolved much, still gave a convincing reason to start a second playthrough to witness both story endings.
Gameplay, on the other hand, did see a few notable improvements. New powers made their way into the mix, making navigation even quicker and combat more diverse. Enemies were varied and often provided the perfect level of challenge too.
Across the board, inFAMOUS 2 delivered a number of effective updates. However, in terms of optional content, it was still a little disconnected. Instead of feeling like an emergent part of the overall gameplay experience, side missions were too often laborious and sometimes essential if you needed to unlock certain powers and bonuses.
Minus the new “Dead Drops” – just carrier pigeons with tape recorders – collectibles hadn’t really changed either. Blast Cores were still scattered everywhere and even though there were abilities to help locate them, the whole process seemed needless. For some reason, Sucker Punch had also removed the Stunt list. Featuring in the original inFAMOUS, it encouraged players to kill their enemies using special moves and environmental hazards.
Though some will beg to differ, the game’s User-Generated Content feature was also a bit unnecessary. Though it helped to increase the sequel’s lifespan considerably, the limited range of tools and lack of advanced guidance led to waves of sub-par user levels, very few of which came even close to match the stock game quality.
Though there are things to complain about, inFAMOUS 2 is still a great game. It may not have the impact of its predecessor yet does enough to engage the player and add new dynamics the gameplay system.
Since launch, the game has received PlayStation Move support (which holds up surprisingly well) as well as a standalone expansion dubbed Festival of Blood.
If you’re feeling particularly heroic/evil and want to get up to speed in time for Second Son, there should be nothing stopping you.