Reviews// inFamous 2

Posted 7 Jun 2011 14:16 by
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inFamous (reviewed here)- the original: intuitive game-play, excellent story telling, seamless sandbox exploration, a ?morality? system that was both endearing and obvious, and a graduated acquisition of powers that forced you on to repeat play. For me, almost a perfect game, minus the occasionally dubious camera. So, how do you add to that? Simple, more of the same with an orchestra and better graphics.

Thankfully for the most part inFamous 2 developer Sucker Punch has adhered to that. Unlike Crackdown 2, which appeared to look at why everybody liked the original and dismissed it to create a mediocrity, inFamous 2 doesn?t avoid the simple fact that its predecessor?s power lay for the most part in that most difficult of gaming mechanics: simplicity.

iF2 retains the basic pleasure of leaping around a brilliantly and believably rendered urban landscape by pressing a button. It doesn?t back away from a forgiving combat system, although it does add a satisfying but largely pointless ?Amp? weapon.

Where it does let itself down is the story, the interaction with the NPCs and the bloody monsters.

Monstrous Trouble
There?s no getting away from the fact that iF2 is an admirable and entirely satisfactory sequel. It does nothing that would have stalwart fans of the first game - stalwarts such as myself - up in arms decrying any sacrileges or liberties taken.

Hero protagonist Cole McGrath retains his necessity to declaim everything in a whisper. His character is racked by the kind of narcissistic guilt and angst that only a testosterone-heavy mailboy who rebelled against his parents can summon up. It is, like Mario?s, just empty enough to be filled up by you the player. Cole?s a fine conduit for your in-game engagement, just like he was before.

Zeke, his sidekick and ?bro? walks the fine line - between comedic and sentimental - that is required of by any super-manic chum in order to actually make the hero look super-heroic rather than psychotic.

The NPCs are all believable in an environment where cutely voiced ice-men battle it out with the kind of right-wing genetic purists who you usually see fighting X-Men, in a New Orleans that is rendered beautifully.

Two of the NPCs have also replaced - or reimagined as is the argot of the moment in game publishing marketing departments - the Karma System of the original game. Both of them are feasible: the ?Bad? but fun Creole woman called Nix (geddit?) and the ?Good? but goody-goody Lucy Kuo (which could be something to do with the i-Ching?s Hexagram 28 ?Critical Mass? or not).

You, as Cole, receive advice from your ?angels? that can basically be translated as: Nix = ?Blow the shit out of everything maaaaaan!? and Kuo, ?People are basically gooood Cole, let?s be nice.? You then decide to be good or bad. So far, so like the first game in its child-like simplicity.

But, hey! This is a videogame about urban exploration, the assuaging of one man?s guilt about carrying a bomb (aka The Ray Sphere) and shooting stuff up. It?s not a treatise on ethics. So, the Karma system works in that it provides a really excellent method of enabling new powers that differ depending on your moral outlook.

Be warned though, for me at least the misuse of these angels at the end of the game in one of the most tortuous and weak scenes can be a little deflating. I?ll say no more other than that in the original... well, you?d made your philosophical bed and you were forced to enjoy it.

Monsters Stink
One of the truly great elements of the first game was the way that the various foes and their bosses were believable as creatures affected both by power and anarchy. Each boss battle - if you exclude the tedious last one - was fought against totally believable nutters. Sent insane with the realisation of powers that they couldn?t handle, the boss enemies such as the barking mad Alden who builds his boss body from bits and pieces he finds lying around the trashed Empire City, are genuinely new.
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