Infamous 2. To catch up and read the review for the original Infamous, click here.
This sequel has taken everything that made Infamous a great game and expanded on it, making this a near perfect endeavor. My 3 reasons for loving Infamous 1 still stand.
1.) Incredible super powers. In Infamous 1, you could do some pretty snazzy stuff with your lightning powers. But the additions here in Infamous 2 are incredible. New “ionic” abilities allow you to suck the energy out of everyone around you or call down a tornado of electric energy. A new “tether” ability, lets you navigate the rooftops with much more ease. New variants of your old abilities make the game feel new each time you upgrade. And they all look dazzling. The bright colors look amazing, as sparks fly around you.
But your powers are only as amazing as the enemies that you fight with them. The enemies in this second outing are much more… formidable. In the first Infamous, you fought (generally) people with guns. But Infamous 2 dishes out mutated swamp monsters, ice-controlling mutant soldiers, giant death beetles, and giant titans made of ice and ash. It takes the sense of realism and kind of puts it in the backseat, but it makes sense that Cole (our hero/villain) will need tougher adversaries to face. And our climatic boss battles are incredible. They change up how to beat each boss, so the same old “throw electricity” move doesn’t cut it anymore.
2.) Open world. I thought Empire City was a living environment. But this sequel takes things a step further. This story takes place in New Marais, the equivalent to our New Orleans (even with recent flood damage). The settings are beautiful though. Even cruising through marshland had me enthralled, as fireflies buzzed about the edges of the swamp. And each new section of the city that you discover is very different than the last, which says a lot. In the original Infamous (and even other open world games like Grant Theft Auto), each new section of the city felt copied and pasted. But this sequel does an excellent job at distinguishing the different parts of the city and giving them unique traits.
3.) Moral choice. You get to decide if your amped up character is a hero or a villain. Will Cole save the day or destroy New Marais? This game does an even better job (again) than its predecessor. The choices in Infamous 1 felt a little heavy-handed. “Would you like to save the kid from the burning building or find his grandma and throw her in as well?” It was like… Whoa. Is there no other option? This game feels more like choice-driven, even though each choice is designated as good or evil. “Should you infiltrate the police or just attack them outright?” This feels more natural. Two options that I actually have to consider.
I’m actually working on an article for another blog focused on the evolution of moral and choice-driven games. Keep an eye out.
The only downside (and same with Infamous 1) is that you only get benefits if you’re ALL evil or ALL good. You might as well select at the beginning which path you’d like to go down and just do those missions. It would achieve the same effect, for the most part.
“Adam, it sounds like a lot of this game is perfect. Is anything wrong?”
No. At least, having just finished it, I don’t have any criticism aside from the drastic measures of the morality system. The AI feels pretty intelligent and challenging, the missions are varied (another improvement from the original), and the visuals are stunning. The only downside is that it had to end.