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Infamous 2: More Action With Less Story

Infamous 2 picks up right where the first installment left off; Cole MacGrath expecting an all-out fight with the Beast. This predicted conflict forms the opening cinematic of the game. However, Cole is bested easily, forcing him and his once best friend, Zeke, to flee to the Southern city of New Marais, where Cole hopes to gain new abilities that will allow him to prevail.

New Marais is inspired by New Orleans, a fact which is obvious at first glance. A fully rendered French Quarter, red lights district, flooded Lower Ninth Ward, and swamp lands are all present. While not as large as Empire City in terms of verticality, New Marais presents a greater difficulty and more believable atmosphere. Infamous' setting seemed to lack life outside of the original given missions, making me uninterested in running around the sandbox world when not immersed in the story. Sucker Punch remedied this problem by making side quests, such as a mugging or bomb threat, appear spontaneously. This gives the world a type of realism that was absent the first time around. The setting also provides a more realized danger in the form of water. Since Cole is "the electric man" he is susceptible to bodies of water; an issue in a city that's half flooded and surrounded by swamps. Players should be more on their toes, and thus more interested during lulls in the story.

On the surface, Cole's arsenal of electric attacks seem to be largely unchanged from his Empire City days, however each base power has multiple variations. For example, the general electric bolt, while still one of the most effective offensive tools, can be enhanced to split into three arcs so it hits an enemy from all sides, or it can be upgraded to fire at long range, allowing Cole to target enemies at a distance. Furthermore, greater powers are unlocked based on your karmic disposition. Feel like saving a group of injured civilians? If so, you are rewarded with ice powers that further alter your set of skills. Even better, these powers can easily be switched back and forth through the d-pad, making this new customization system an unexpected star feature of the game.

Cole is not alone in his quest for new powers. Players can choose to join one of the following conduits, Kuo or Nix. Kuo specializes in ice based attacks and is interested in the greater good, whereas Nix, a pyro, is only bothered by what affects her own standings. It can't be any more black and white than that, if players choose to join Kuo, they are gunning for the good ending and vice versa with Nix. As previously stated, your powers are upgradable based on which sidekick you aim to help; ice based powers for Kuo, and fire like powers for Nix. The only problem with this type of system is the fact that changing from Infamous to Hero, or from Hero to Infamous, is almost impossible once part way committed to either side, unless willing to invest many hours grinding through repetitive side missions. Also don't be fooled, your karmic choices may not have much effect on small details as in the Mass Effect series, but the ending of Infamous 2 is entirely based on how you chose to dish out your powers throughout the course of the game.

What entranced me about the original Infamous was its ability to provide hours of fun at no expense to the story. While the sequel's gameplay is on par, if not better than the original, the story leaves something to be desired. Cole's main objective is to increase in power so as to defeat the Beast, however, the impending doom that the Beast is supposed to instill feels stale and somewhat absent considering he isn't present for three quarters of the game. The more I invested into Infamous 2, the less I concerned myself with Cole's story. Instead I focused on the pure thrill of taking down hundreds of enemies with the ease of super human abilities to a musical score that fit perfectly with the on screen action.

DLC is a standard in the gaming industry today, and Infamous 2 comes packed with available add-ons in the form of User Generated Content, or UGC. Simply find a green UGC mission start on the in game map, or if looking for something specific, narrow your search through a categorical filtering system. This UGC is available from the start, and cannot be easier to access. The same cannot be said for creating your own missions. Working with a crude inventory system and confusing controls, players must possess the will and determination of Batman in order to create a satisfying level. Furthermore, the lack of in game voice acting and regular glitches make UGC an average experience for players who want to prolong their time with Infamous 2, but who are not looking for any game changing mechanics.

Despite some flaws in the story and presentation, Infamous 2 is a theme park of fun. The conclusion is no exception, and leaves players wondering how the third installment will even play out, if at all. Without a doubt, gamers need to check out this sequel, even if only for the high octane super fights.              

 

 

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