When Sucker Punch said they wanted to strive for quality similar to Uncharted 2 I knew it would be a tall order, and to be honest; I wasn’t sure they were capable. It’s not meant to be a cheap shot at the team, but rather a legitimate criticism. inFAMOUS 2 is an open world adventure title, and to achieve a level of quality similar to Uncharted 2 would be nothing short of astonishing. Does Sucker Punch succeed in matching their expectations for inFAMOUS 2? No, but they come pretty damn close. Hit the break to view our verdict.
It’s seems fitting to start this review with the initial criticism I had during the early development of this title. Before the final copy arrived on my doorstep I had serious reservations about the voice actor for Cole and the change Sucker Punch had envisioned for the character. It seems now that my criticisms were misplaced, and I sincerely admit that I was wrong. Sucker Punch did a marvelous job of creating Cole to be a more likeable character while keeping the core elements of his original character intact. It’s an incredibly tight rope allowing creative freedom to go unchecked, while keeping the fans expectations in-check, and Sucker Punch couldn’t have done it any better.
After getting his butt kicked by The Beast, Cole retreats to the city of New Marais to upgrade his powers far beyond what he thinks is possible, and to engage in a final showdown with the creature. I wasn’t too impressed with the story arc regarding The Beast, and frankly thought the karma system was the star of the show. Despite always being aware of The Beast, it’s the relationships you foster within the city that really moves the story forward, and by the end I was nearly in tears.
In inFAMOUS everything was so black and white and there wasn’t really any sort of neutrality within the karma system. Not only did that limit the player from a gameplay standpoint, but it also hurt the overall story. inFAMOUS 2 handles these issues much better. The characters each have motives and despite being aligned with certain karma, it’s certainly not so black and white, and even allows for a few twists at the end. During the course of both playthroughs I understood the motives from both sides of the karma coin, and really felt empathic to both sides. This couldn’t have been possible without the stellar voice acting performances from Cole (Eric Laden), Kuo (Dawn Olivieri), Zeke (Caleb Moody) and Nix (Nika Futterman). Laden and Olivieri standout particularly, though it’s important to emphasis just how fantastic the entire cast is.
The story in general is strong, though I wish the characters would have been a bit more fleshed out; though it’s understandable why more time wasn’t spent on them. Perhaps it had less to do with Sucker Punch and more to do with my infatuation with the story arc they created. There really hasn’t been a set of character’s I’ve latched onto this year, and generally cared about as much as the cast in inFAMOUS 2; and that’s really what inFAMOUS 2’s greatest strength is.
Much has been made about the improvements to gameplay, and like its predecessor inFAMOUS 2 plays very similar. In fact, inFAMOUS 2 doesn’t exactly stray far from its interesting formula. That’s not to say that it’s bad, however in general the gameplay isn’t as polished as it could be. For instance, the climbing mechanics remain unchanged for the most part. It’s still incredibly frustrating when Cole gets stuck on a section of the building that wasn’t intended and despite some basic improvements to the animations; it’s not where they should be. That doesn’t mean that all of the animations didn’t receive some sort of upgrade; however it seems that Sucker Punch was very selective about what did improve upon.
The aiming and combat received most of the attention and Cole’s combat system feels even more distinct in the second installment. I can’t say that the melee is that much better then the original from an appearance standpoint, however it’s much more effective in combat. I liked how each power had different variations, but I was hoping for a couple more powers then what was available; especially the karma-based powers. Even with those issues there are still some fantastic improvements. The enemies you encounter are much bigger in scope and even smarter. On normal difficulty they can give you a challenge, especially if you don’t collect any blast shards to increase your power capacity. The city of New Marais is also more interesting then it’s counter-part Empire City, however despite all the glamor, the civilians are still uninteresting in the context of the entire city.
One of the biggest additions to inFAMOUS 2 is UGC missions. Essentially this system allows players to create different types of user-generated missions which offer an almost unlimited amount of possibilities. I haven’t been too impressed thus far with what I’ve seen, however I believe the community will rise up to create some truly astonishing things.
Despite its obvious issues, inFAMOUS 2 is a title any PlayStation 3 owner should have, and by the end of Cole’s journey it will stick with you. It may even get you to shed a tear.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.