Infamous 2 ReviewGreg Knoll
Aside from Assassin's Creed, InFAMOUS is the only other game in a long time that I've anticipated a sequel for, the moment the first ended. Yet, unlike that aforementioned title, InFAMOUS's ending wasn't shrouded in mystery, leaving me with more questions than answers; rather, with one daunting, burning task: Kill The Beast.
Before the first sentence about InFAMOUS 2 ever leaked, it was obvious to any who played the original that the sequel would center around this very powerful, very enigmatic character. The closer the release date, the more intense the rumors became about... It. Many spoke an opinion on who/what this monster would encompass. I could only utter one word.
For far too long now the dominant, enduring antagonist has been missing from nearly every title and it's a gap that has disturbed me more than any other flaw. And though the first title was far from perfect, that one idea - that one... center, was what kept me twitching for June 7th.
But before I spill lymrics and wax poetic, let me say that InFAMOUS 2 is not perfect either. The most blaring of issues - the lack of multi-player. In the first game, it was evident why they chose not to include any sort of online play. With Cole being the only super-powered being, it would have limited the options and accessibility. InFAMOUS 2 introduces other conduits like Nix and Kuo-even The Beast - all with different powers that would have easily opened up the roster had they opted to go online, much like Brotherhood did with the Assassin's Creed series. Sucker Punch did make at least an attempt by introducing user-created missions, but the fact they're still only side-missions limits 2 from being any sort of long-term entertainment option. Playing through it twice is going to allow gamers to experience all it has to offer.
Karma choices are still blatantly black-and-white and it's even easier to determine which you'll need to make to tread down your chosen path. Overload a generator so that it destroys the entire village, saving you from a nasty fight or battle the militia only and spare the lives of the women and children. Plow through the gate with Nix at your side, increasing collateral damage or release the prisoners in order to perform a tactical strike. While this does make things easier for those who are goal/trophy oriented and want to see both sides, it also takes the power away from the gamer and their judgent. InFAMOUS 2's story is even more complex and captivating than the first, and you delve further into Cole's struggle of right and wrong but it's difficult to fully relate to that when the options are so blaringly simple, and there's really no reproach unless you want there to be. The glimmer of hope, though, is that they've separated the choices even further. The first game had you play the same missions and would give you options for a heroic or villainous act mid-way. Now, a player is presented with two entirely different scenarios, creating a wealth of variety that was never there before.
Cole still has issues with climbing and occasionally with his hovering. At random intervals, he turns in obscure manners and lands where you never intended, or misses an easy ledge, causing him to fall all the way down and forcing one to scale him back up. Thankfully, these never seem to occur when your life is on the line. Controls during the battles have been fine-tuned, and access to the seemingly endless list of powers take only one button to unleash, the interface for switching them is even simpler, making any combat seamless.
Yes, InFAMOUS 2 still has flaws. Are they enough to make anyone pass on this title, or consider it only for a rental well off into the future?
While the game has issues, the attempt to fix them or at least begin the journey is evident. And while some blemishes have merely been tinkered with, others have been eliminated entirely. The redundant, grating missions are utterly absent. Yes, like the first, 2 centers a theme (collecting Blast Cores as opposed to reinstating power stations), but attaining the outcome is utterly diverse. It's no longer going from one place to another, committing the same act. Each quest for a new Blast Core is more intense and involved than the one before. The first simply had you leaping rooftops in order to make it to a destroyed laboratory-an impromptu rescue mission that left you with the reward, but by the end of the game I had not seen the same scenario played out. I assaulted warehouses to break open safes, battled through an entire army to chase down one cowardly enemy who tried to steal that sacred item. I even helped Nix-the fiery, crazy conduit-reclaim her homeland, the Blast Core my gift when the dust settled.
With each Core came a new power. Some are just add-ons like more effective thrusters and tighter precision shots. Others were brand new, including several that increased your primary lightning. Initially it's the one tiny bolt. Eventually it evolves into the Magnum shot-one powerful stream that drives through several enemies, or the rapid-fire that allows you to hold down the button while you pump debilitating volts into all opposition. The rockets carry the same destructive power as the grenade, but these can be pinpointed, freeing up time where you don't have to compensate for arc. The most powerful were the Ionic. They require a special unit that can be found on random enemies but are well worth the effort of finding them. Cole slings a tiny whirlwind directly in front of him that grows with every inch it travels, erupting into a massive, chaotic tornado that swallows everything in its very, very long path. Though I never imagined I would say this, Cole was even more god-like this time around.
And oddly, more human. He has a sense of humor now and not nearly as grim. His look has been softened to make him a little more appealing and the wonderful graphics give him expressions and personality that were missing entirely from the first. The Karma may have originally distracted me from relating to him, but they won me back with his incredible design. Made me like him. When he was the hero, I felt for him. As the villain, I despised him. Either way, it did what the Karma failed to do-and that was to bond.
All of that makes the game worthy of a purchase, but let's be honest: that's not why I wanted to play it. That's not why... a lot of us have anticipated it. We wanted to know if The Beast was just a cheap gimmick or if it truly was the threat and fight we've waited a long time for.
Now, I'm going to be poetic and simply say: Greatness Is Not Measured In Accomplishments; Rather By The Obstacles One Must Overcome To Achieve.
Yes. I received the fight I wanted with The Beast. In the first five minutes we had it out, he took everything Cole had stored up and barely blinked. He utterly humiliated The Demon of Empire City and sent him running as far away as he could get. But it wasn't out of fear, nor his own safety. It was about Cole realizing his destiny and taking hold of it, retreating to New Marais in desperation to find some way to stop this massive, destructive force before the whole world fell to him-all the while, he's stalking you. And though you really only see him twice in the entire game, his presence is felt in its entirety. With each new power awakened in Cole, The Beast draws closer. Each day that passes, a line is scorched across the earth as the countdown continues. New enemies rise amidst the chaos, new allies lend their strength and a very enduring friendship begins to heal. Each element is brilliantly woven, driving towards that one moment where Cole finally steps into his role-whichever that may be-fully, and reclaims his stolen fate. In the end, it was always up to him alone and when it's all over you truly see him as the ultimate hero or the decisive villain. Everything that I'd hoped for, all that has been building for two games, is done justice.
I could end this by stating I was blown away, that this is one game that will stay with me for a very, very long time. I could tell you how incredible it made me feel, how worthwhile it truly was. Or I can simply reiterate my previous phrase, and hope that you'll understand:
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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