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InFamous 2 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • New Marais is vibrant and fun to explore
  • Combat's more fun, with cooler abilities
  • Enemies are more diverse, less frustrating
  • Upgrade system demands consistent moral choices
  • Still no fast travel system
  • Endgame steals a little too blatantly from comics

In spite of the way fans embraced the first InFamous back in 2009, it had a few glaring flaws that kept some critics (myself included) from fully recommending it. As fun as the morally ambiguous superhero-sandbox game could be, it suffered from too-sticky platforming, a limited repertoire of powers, repetitive city design and exploration that was hampered by near-constant gunfire from ever-present death squads. Underneath those problems were the beginnings of something great, however, and with InFamous 2, that promise is finally realized.

Where the first game’s Empire City was a bleak sprawl of same-y rooftops, plazas and alleyways, InFamous 2 moves the action to New Marais, a stand-in for one of America’s most unique cities, New Orleans. You’ll still be magnetically drawn toward the nearest platform or ledge while jumping around, but it’s been fine-tuned to the point where you’ll no longer be sucked onto a nearby lamppost every time you try to jump away from a grenade.

Enemies pop up frequently, but not constantly, and the powers you can use to dispatch them are much more diverse and interesting than they were in the first game. Even the close-quarters combat’s gotten better, provided you have a high tolerance for its 300-style, slow-fast-slow presentation. In short, there’ve been a lot of improvements, and most of the irritations from the first game are gone. So how does InFamous 2 stack up on its own?

Picking up a few months after InFamous left off, the sequel once again follows morally challenged superhero/villain Cole MacGrath, who flees to New Marais after The Beast (a monstrous, superhuman force of nature foretold in the first game’s ending) appears and reduces Empire City to a cinder. If he’s going to take on The Beast – an ever-approaching threat whose distance from New Marais pops up onscreen periodically – Cole will have to become more powerful, something he can only do by collecting battery-like “Blast Cores” hidden around the city.

Of course, The Beast isn’t Cole’s only problem. In the chaos following Empire City’s destruction, a redneck militia – simply called The Militia – has taken control and vowed to stamp out superhuman “deviants” like Cole. Also of concern are rampaging swamp monsters and a small army of mercenaries with ice powers, who add a bit of diversity to the opposing forces and ensure that you’ll have to deal with more than just being shot at all the time. They’re also an excuse to throw in some monstrous bosses, at least one of which is a towering beast that looks like something out of Lost Planet, complete with glowing weak points. 

Like its predecessor, InFamous 2 is set in a sprawling open world, which you’ll get around mainly by climbing buildings and grinding on power lines (there’s no fast-travel feature, though, which can make getting from one end of the city to another kind of a chore). As a human Tesla coil, Cole’s ammunition and health are replenished by electricity, and the city’s filled with convenient power sources for him to drain when things get dire. Also, like in the first InFamous, parts of the city need to be “powered up” before you can safely operate in them. The difference is that now, instead of activating electrical transformers in repetitive sewer levels, Cole charges up several above-ground ones using remote-controlled “Tesla Missiles” (which can also fry enemies mid-flight).

As a game world, New Marais is a lot more interesting than the crumbling Empire City; for starters, it features a lot of diverse areas, ranging from neon-drenched urban centers to miles of swampland and a completely flooded suburb (this is a city patterned after New Orleans, after all). There’s also plenty of stuff to do and see, even when you’re not paying attention to the story missions.  Like in the first game, there are side missions to pursue (which help you reduce Militia influence in chunks of the city) and energy-boosting Blast Shards to ferret out, but there’s incidental, karma-affecting stuff as well, like street musicians you can terrorize, or muggers you can stomp mid-holdup. (You’re free to ignore this stuff, of course, but it does help keep New Marais from ever feeling empty or boring.)

Lucky for Cole, he’s not going it alone this time. In addition to his annoying buddy Zeke (who actually manages to become likable and sympathetic this time around), Cole gets some help from two women: Kuo, a by-the-book NSA agent who starts the game as Cole’s handler, but eventually gets superhuman abilities of her own; and Nix, a swamp-dwelling sociopath with flammable, oil-based powers.

As you can probably guess, Kuo and Nix are a big part of the game’s morality system, and each major decision tends to come down to which one you want to side with. Nix favors plans that are destructive, devious and guaranteed to get people killed, while Kuo pushes Cole to do the “right” (and frequently boring) thing. Should you earn the trust of anti-Militia rebels by letting Nix put on a Militia disguise and attack them (thus enabling you to swoop in and save the day), or by helping Kuo drive an ambulance loaded with medical supplies to them? Should you help Nix take control of an army of monsters, or help Kuo expose the people who already control them?

Your choices register on Cole’s karma meter, and they affect not only which missions you’re offered, but also Cole’s appearance, which powers become available to him and, ultimately, the ending of the game. (You’ll still be offered a decision, but one of the choices will be locked unless you want to go off and help/hurt enough people to push your karma into good or evil status.)

You’re free to dart back and forth between good and evil decisions, but it’s in your best interest to be consistent. New powers take some doing to acquire, as you’ll now have to A) make it to a point in the story where they become available; B) perform a set task to unlock them (i.e. getting six headshots, or destroying four cars in as many seconds); and C) spend experience points to buy them. And because some of those powers are locked to good or evil karma, going back and forth will effectively bar you from using some of them.

As for the powers themselves, Cole has the same standard, gun-stand-in attacks that he did in the first game (most of which get stripped from him at the start), including pistol-like lightning shots, energy grenades, force-wave “blasts” and lightning rockets. This time, however, there are a lot of variants, which you can quickly switch between using a d-pad menu. Rockets can split into bolo-like pairs, connected by a string of lightning. Grenades can be powered up to stick to enemies or bounce into the air before exploding. And Cole’s basic lightning can be augmented in a number of different ways, from adding rapid-fire to focusing the blasts into slower, magnum-sized bolts.

Melee abilities can be beefed up as well, with quicker combos and showy finishers built around Cole’s new, two-pronged Amp weapon, and some of the new powers can even help Cole get around quickly, such as the grappling-hook-like Lightning Tether (which is a lot of fun to use, but sadly doesn’t show up until near the end of the game). Probably the best addition, however, is the ability to telekinetically pick up objects – up to and including cars – and hurl them at enemies, into the sides of buildings or simply far into the distance. (Strangely, this doesn’t seem to affect your karma at all, even if you explode the car with a driver inside.)


Above: You'll also unlock a few devastating "Ionic" super attacks, which are great for when you're grossly outmatched

Interestingly, there’s plenty of content to play around with even after you’ve finished the story, provided you have a high tolerance for user-created missions. After hitting a certain point in the story, players get the ability to create their own content with a surprisingly simple to use (but complicated at first to learn) system that combines freeform logic switches with a rubber-stamping tool. Missions can be set anywhere on the game map (by simply going there before you switch over into User-Generated Content mode), and every monster, object and person in the game is at your disposal to edit however you like. It’s even possible to add rudimentary, voiceless cutscenes, if you really want to get a story across.

Making your own UGC is fun, but like in LittleBigPlanet (which a lot of the UGC elements seem to be lifted from), it’s easy to dick around, but harder to create something of value. Luckily, you can filter other players’ created missions – which appear on your map as green mission markers – so that only the newest or most highly rated (by either developer Sucker Punch or the community) show up. It’s also possible to turn them off entirely, which isn’t a bad idea if you just want to focus on progressing through the game without any confusing distractions.

Fortunately, the UGC is what it should be: an optional add-on that wasn’t made at the expense of the rest of the game. Even without it, InFamous 2 is fairly beefy, with 40 story missions and around 16-20 hours of gameplay, depending on whether you decide to pursue side missions or just charge straight through to the end. (An end which, we can’t help but notice, blatantly cribs story elements from Watchmen and X-Men.)

More importantly, InFamous 2 is simply a lot of fun; more so than in the first game, there’s a great feeling of freedom in being able to clamber up to high points, skate across the skyline, plummet to the ground unharmed and whale on monsters with a big metal cattle prod.


Is it better than…

Crackdown 2? Yes. While some might be tempted to lump them together (probably because InFamous was seen as the PS3's answer to Crackdown), the differences are huge. Crackdown 2 is more of an expansion than an actual sequel, giving players the same city (albeit in ruined form) and adding annoying monsters. And while InFamous 2 also adds monsters, those monsters are more interesting, its city is new, and its story is more interesting than Crackdown 2’s razor-thin narrative. Arguably, Crackdown 2’s multiplayer is more fun than creating and sharing missions, but as a solo experience, InFamous 2 is much more enjoyable.

Prototype? Yes. While InFamous 2 – even at its most “evil” – still doesn’t have the anarchic, brutal sense of fun that Prototype does, it tells a more interesting story and arguably plays better than its two-year-old rival. It also has more to offer players, even if none of those things is disguising yourself as a soldier and calling in an airstrike on a military base before running up the side of the Empire State Building and then elbow-dropping into the crowd on the street below.

 

Just Cause 2? No. InFamous’s story is better and more complete than Just Cause 2’s (really, what isn’t?), but when it comes to the sheer fun of getting around its game world, swinging around with a grappling hook and stealing jetliners easily beats grinding on power lines. Also, using JC2’s grappling hook to creatively grief enemies is ridiculously entertaining, and it’s something that hasn’t really been attempted or equaled by any other sandbox game, InFamous 2 included.


Just for you, Metacritic!

A huge improvement over its flawed predecessor, InFamous 2 injects more variety, personality and explosive fun into the first game’s promising formula, while removing or fine-tuning its most irritating problems.

Jun 16, 2011

More Info

Release date: Jun 07 2011 - PS3 (US)
Jun 10 2011 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Sucker Punch
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
PEGI Rating:
16+

50 comments

  • big000 - August 8, 2011 2:34 a.m.

    Good game, only thing that pisses me off are blocky shapes when explosions occur
  • cableguy3000 - June 26, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    Im sorry but an 8,thats lame.This game deserves at least a 9.Its so cool.Well thats my opinion anyway.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - June 22, 2011 11:45 a.m.

    @Guardian88: Yep, I addressed that a few comments before the one you posted. Hopefully you saw that. Also, I'm a lair? Neat! I hope that means I'm full of gold hoarded by dragons. But in case you weren't aware, "fast-travel," in the context of sandbox games, generally means the ability to warp from one point to another (i.e. GTA IV's trip-skip cabs or Red Dead's campsites). @HaVoK308: No, I mean I achieved a psychic link with your mind and produced a review that exactly reflected your own personal tastes. Obviously you just don't realize what it is you do and don't like. /sarcasm (Also, while you may feel that traveling rapidly from one end of the city to the other is exactly the same as warping there in seconds, I respectfully disagree.)
  • ashton - June 22, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    I bought the first InFamous as a greatest hit and I loved it had the same complaints as others did (sticky controls)... but still a pretty good game!! And Mikel is only doing his job great review along with a great score and 8 not bad but not great. I love the InFamous games there not great but really far from bad!! @Larinah as long as I’ve been playing the first game never was I at the begging of the game ( nor middle to end) I able to pick up a car, box, collapses building debris and chunk at who or what so ever I pleased!! Yea go back in research that for me (sarcasm)!!
  • TheHowetzer - June 20, 2011 7 p.m.

    Common guys, you still dont come here for game reviews do you? This is not the place for those, the reveiws here make no sence at all, but they have some good features and coverage, dont take it too serious, I used to, but I got over it. Mikel certainly helped me get over that hump with his costantly crazy review scores/articles. Not that he is the only one, but he sure did his share.
  • PopularBluesMagicianSandyCabbage - June 20, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    @GamesRadarMikelReparaz: oh shit i got owned by Mikel AND got a reverse Wikiparaz noise. life is complete. sounds kinda like this DOOOOOOOOm bloop bloop blip
  • D0CCON - June 20, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    @Cloud1Fair3/Zeipher It's not just God of War. I've never liked the type of game that God of War is (ditto with the likes of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but at least Bayonetta is bat shit uber insane, which makes it slightly more appealing). I don't want to solve simple puzzles and beat the shit out of another room of bad guys with the same combos over and over. Adding extra difficulty does not change what the game is. I find the game's fundamentals boring. And before you say that that's how must games are (all you do in an FPS is shoot people after all), the way it's handled just doesn't appeal to me. I can't say what the exact thing that annoys me is, maybe it's that most fights in GOW styled games happen in empty rooms where there's a bunch of enemies and the door to the next room full of enemies won't unlock until you beat up all of these enemies. Maybe it's how most games in the genre have a handful of very useful moves that you spam over and over (even without upgrades, there are superior weak moves when compared to other weak moves). Maybe it's because I don't give a shit about what number my combo is at. Maybe I just like less linear games with more freedom (I'm guessing that's it considering how much I love Bethesda and Rockstar games). This may be tldr, but I felt like writing it and I'm glad I could semi-rant (semi because I'm not trying to tear the game a new asshole, but because I just want to share my flaws with a game without trying to offend anyone).
  • HaVoK308 - June 20, 2011 3:33 a.m.

    You'll hate? You mean You hate. I have no issues with the upgrade system or the end game. No fast travel? The game is built so it is not needed and with the use of your powers it is easy to get from point A to B. You should change your reviews to: I love and I hate.
  • Cloud1Fair3 - June 20, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    @DOCCON I agree with Zeipher, clearly you didn't let the game challenge you. If it's still not challenging enough (which if you do Chaos mode, I dobut) try a NUR. I still haven't beaten my NUR on God of War 2 (titan difficulty of course). And before you ask, NUR means no upgrade run, don't spend a single red orb, talk about insane, it's you, weakened ass moves and very few options, and your raw skills against the toughest difficulty. Hardcore on Deadspace 2's got nothing (which I will attempt because I'm a videogame masochist). @Mikel. I'm unfortunately gonna have to call a bias as well. First you give InFamous a 7, which I would disagree and give it a 9 despite it's flaws, it was the 2009 version of Spiderman 2 with a morality meter and clever and innovative story, aka massive fun. Now, you say it's redeemed itself and become the game it was supposed too. Even back in 2009 if that was true of InFamous, would it get a 10? Fastforward to the future 2011 and I say I still think the InFamous series is the 3rd best new-gen series I've played, better than even Sly Cooper (or not, don't make me choose), although to be fair, I don't own a 360 so I can't count 360 exclusives. This game at the very least deserves a 9, and maybe I'm just getting a personal and subjective kick out of it based of nothing, which is why I don't review games for a living probably, but I would even give it a 10 (gasps). But I guess you'd have to let the gaming community decide overall what it deserves. IGN, another gaming site that doles out hypercritical reviews gave it a 9, so what does that say? I also think they did a better review. Sorry.
  • Zeipher - June 19, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    @DOCCON Play at a harder difficulty, you loser.
  • GhostbustTyler - June 19, 2011 7:36 p.m.

    The only thing stopping me from playing this game right now is studying for exams. It's so much fun and I haven't even spent that long playing the actual story, just collecting blast shards and stopping crimes. The one complaint I really have is that the A.I is still dumber then shit. Playing as a hero gets frustrating when your lining up shots then at the last minute a stupid civilian or a member of the rebellion gets in your way and you gain negative karma for not meaning to hit them. I mean in the beginning when your trying to find Wolfe and they first tell you to use blast (I still prefer the power names from the first game) a stupid civilian got stuck in the way of the car so any time I tried to move it, I gained negative karma points again. Other then that I love the game and all the improvements they did to make it better from the first. Awesome review Mikel (even thought I picked it up before you posted this haha) !
  • terdferguson - June 18, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    I really hated InFamous until I started unlocking new powers. I could not kill anyone and I found it to be one of the most frustrating games I had ever played. I agree with the 7 it received as it was a pretty bland game. I thought Prototype was awful. The player mobility was like I was to control a crack addict on a hot coal bed and the graphics were severely disappointing. The story tried so hard to have a conspiracy/edgy/outlaw feel and the physics were terrible. The game seemed to be stuck behind all these shitacular spectacles to achieve what the developer wanted. Yet it recieved great reviews. I hope this isn't the same case with InFamous 2.
  • Guardian88 - June 18, 2011 5:41 p.m.

    First of all, you do realize that you said that InFAMOUS 2 is better than Prototype, but you game Prototype a 9...and you game InFAMOUS 2 an 8. If not, then think about it. Next, you are a lair. There is a fast travel system...a couple in fact. The static thrusters, the lightning tether, powerlines, the street car cables, the train rails, among others.
  • philipshaw - June 18, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    Great review, I beat it with the good ending the other night and would give it a 8.5 but your scale doesn't have that so I guess a 8 is fair
  • spencertucksen - June 18, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    @Lord Reparaz: I found this game to be a solid 8.8, which rounds out to a 9. Played the good ending and thought it was great with the whole "...but no one had more humanity than Cole McGrath" (Not a big spoiler to me) and while I think this deserved a 9, I found this review to be pretty solid as a whole. Played out the story with each Karma and while I think lifting and tossing objects was good...it wasn't practical AT ALL. A few other things to say: The bad ending made me want to murder MYSELF. Depressing-ass ending was just a metaphorically shitstorm of guilt for this good guy. Also, the reverse Wikiparaz is by far the most impressive.
  • CitizenThom - June 17, 2011 9:35 p.m.

    I enjoyed the first Infamous a lot, played it through twice and collected all the shards, and yes the endgame could've been better. I played the demo for Infamous 2 a couple weeks ago though, and just didn't feel as pulled in as I did with the first. I can't put a finger on what though, but after the demo, I decided to wait for when this becomes a greatest hit before picking it up.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - June 17, 2011 6:22 p.m.

    @Larinah: Are you sure? I just went back to check, and there's no Kinetic Pulse ability. I can shove cars with the shockwave, but I can't pick them up and toss them around. @winterwolf: A score is a reflection of the game's quality at the time, so a game that gets a 9 in 2009 isn't necessarily going to get the same score in 2011. Compared side-by-side now, InFamous 2 is better than Prototype, but that alone doesn't guarantee it a 9 in 2011. @PopularBluesMagicianSandyCabbage: WHALE -verb, whaled, whal·ing. To hit, thrash, or beat soundly. (from dictionary.com) Sorry to do this, but you have fallen victim to a common spelling misconception, and you get a reverse Wikiparaz noise as a result.
  • Zeb364 - June 17, 2011 6 p.m.

    I had a blast playing through inFamous 2. I loved the first one too and am halfway through a second playthrough of it. Once I finish I'll play through inFamous 2 again taking the evil karma route. I always play good first which is the opposite of every other game. While I might have given it a 9 there's no arguing with your review, great read.
  • TriforcePlayer - June 17, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    I hated the first one but the sequel is the funnest game I've played all year.
  • Sleuth - June 17, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    This was a spectacular super hero game!

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