Reviews// inFamous 2

Posted 7 Jun 2011 14:16 by
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The monsters in iF2 are more run-of-the-mill insectoid creations on a massive scale. Well, that?s excluding the tedious need to kill ice monsters who are simply... tedious to kill. None of the boss battles offer anything more compelling than a bit of button mashing, recharging, button mashing, running away a bit, some more button mashing and the final, triumphant, ?Well, thank goodness that?s over with, let?s go and find a street musician to beat up.?

Monster Rucks
inFamous was just so replayable. It really did matter, to me at least, to play as good and then bad... and then good again... and then bad again. This could have enabled me to pick up the sequel as an extension of the first game. I chose not to, I am reviewing iF2 as a standalone project after all.

So, as an apparent new newcomer to the series, having sat through the mercifully brief exposition regarding the nefarious First Sons of Empire City and Cole?s lost love, I was soon whisked to a spookily de-sexualised and de-jazzed New (Orleans) Marais (it means ?Marsh? in French you know) with Zeke and Kuo.

This trip was made after a battle with The Beast. I?ll let you deal with that on your own terms. Suffice to say that there was some button mashing to be done.

Arriving at New Marsh I stood up, turned off iF2 played some of the first game again, came back and said: ?Bloody hell, it?s way better looking. Cole?s better looking, less hunched, more fluid, and the cutscenes?! Unbelievably better.?

And I was right. Everything about this new game looks better and moves more dynamically. New Marais is more fully formed and less repetitive than Empire City. Zeke looks good. And the female characters? Phew, they don?t look as if they?ve been made out of plastic sheeted papier mache.

Sadly, the enemies, The Militia and The Corrupted, are just not as scary nor believable as The Reapers or The Dustmen. They?re badass and hardcore and generally fightable. However, they are forged from sci-fi Dystopian politics 101 and they don?t quiver and shake in front of Cole when cornered individually. They lack any sort of soul.

Now, for me that?s a dispiriting thing. For the gamer who isn?t quite as up his own backside as I am however, they provide excellent targets for the new powers earned by Cole.

Yes, Sucker Punch has served up some neat new tricks for our hero. To go with it there is a visually less impressive but more useful Powers menu that enables you to arm different powers (including the hugely enjoyable ?Pick Stuff Up and Chuck It? aka the Kinetic Pulse) depending on circumstance.

Earning powers is less invigorating than I hoped given the previous game?s underground exploration thrills. What you do get, however, is the ability - okay, the requirement - to fling Tesla Rockets from substation to substation to power-up New Marais? various suburbs. This entails guiding a bright shiny thing around the town, sending it crashing into the next substation or enemy.

All good stuff. What?s slightly less amusing is the button mashing required to defend the substations from waves of enemies. It?s all very reminiscent of the Defend the Medical Supplies from iF.

Monster Mash Up
Now, I?ve been told that I really am not allowed to put up this review without mention of the User Generated Content (UGC) element that Sucker Punch have fixed into what I?ve now got to call a ?video game experience?.

LittleBigPlanet, bless it?s wooly socks, made the idea of providing PS3 owners with the tools to make their own gaming levels or challenges popular. inFamous 2 has benefited from this, as will Sucker Punch and Sony as that hardcore of consumers who like to build levels and challenges go to the tools provided here for free with a passion.

Unlike LBP2, however, which has enabled gamers to recreate old games in slightly different ways (because that, apparently is what is required in this conservative environment), you?ll not need to stretch your imaginations too far.

Like ModNation Racers the tools provided here will only enable you to build sections of iF2, challenges and side-missions in fact.

When in-game these non-core missions appear as green icons on the map. I imagine the idea here is to get the golden goose of community to engage with the franchise going forward (I really apologise for that) by uploading, rating and playing these tidbits.

The UGC currently on show is perfectly adequate. They?re not satisfactory - they lack any of the actual plot interaction required to drive you on. The tools are, for me, understandable but not actually compelling. I would have liked an immediately accessible plan or overhead 2D map view, for example, to give me some idea what I was doing.

That said, the tools are a welcome addition for the aspiring game designer. And we need more game designers, we really need independent ones who don?t have to fall back on uninspiring ?monsters? that have bad breath and weak spots and look as if they could have been lifted from Starship Troopers or worse, Gears of War.

I personally wish immense good fortune to anybody who has the patience to master the UGC tools. Also, good on you Sony and Sucker Punch for the inclusion of those tools rather attempting, a la Uncharted, to tack on the vileness of unnecessary multiplayer to a game that would not benefit from it. A definite gold star there.

Conclusion
In fact, a gold star all round for inFamous 2, a sequel that shows respect to gamers and its prequel alike while attempting to add powers, story, graphics, and one shining piece of comedy in the form of a mission in which Zeke and Cole drink beer before Cole achieves a new power. That mission is, without doubt, one of the funniest and at the same time most knowing pieces of game writing I?ve ever seen.

All in all, in a game design environment nearly bereft of imagination and value for money, inFamous 2 deserves to be on your PS3 despite its occasional descent into formula and an ending that I?d suggest could be about 90% more engaging. I won?t be replaying it as much as the first title, that?s for sure. However, it remains value for your cash and is head and shoulders above the majority of PS3 titles currently available.

SPOnG Score: 94%
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