The lights are on
InFamous 2 opens with a bang. Your introduced to a dangerous, seemingly invincible new foe, improved graphics, a new voice actor for Cole (not an improvement in my opinion but your mileage may vary), and a welcome change of scenery. However the shockwave from this newness explosion loses strength quickly and long before you reach the final mission almost all that momentum is lost.
Much of what you know and love from Infamous made it to the sequel. The majority of the powers made the trip as did the mission-based structure of the game, the morality system. If you liked it in the first game you'll probably like it here. It's the differences between the two games that are deserving of examination.
As already noted the graphics are much improved. Textures have depth and the animation is much smoother. New Marais feels smaller than Empire City (probably due to New Marais not being as vertical as Empire) but is much more visually diverse and interesting.
Instead of powers being given when you repower a darkened section of the city they are unlocked either via a story mission or by completing now integrated stunts. You can still buy upgrades but what constitutes a better version of a power is not as linear as before. Instead of buying a version that simply ups the damage the next evolution of the power will be rapid fire or will encase your enemy in ice. Fortunately you are able to switch between all your purchased powers so you're not stuck with something you don't like. Speaking of ice, it and fire are elements that you will be able to choose between to give your powers an extra kick although the power of that kick varies. The power structure is certainly more varied than before but that game, outside of the stunt unlocks, gives you little reason to switch between your favorites unless two useful powers exist on the same button. Another power quibble it that even your basic bolt will now drain your electrical reserves often leaving you powerless and scrambling for an energy source in more heated battles.
The ability to create and play user-generated content is probably the biggest addition to Infamous but I found it to be wholly underwhelming. For the creative people, there is no in-depth tutorial that I found to help guide you through a creator that is more complicated than it looks at first glance. For everyone else playing these created missions they just come off as bad fan fiction. Even if the objectives within the mission are unique the silent comic-book like story lead-ins are do nothing to inspire interest. The created missions are really only useful for gaming the morality system. As Sucker Punch really banked upon the user-generated content to help give meat to the game there seem to be fewer original, and therefore interesting, missions to complete.
The story is really where the game falters. From the prologue that game has you believe that the stakes are huge and that the villain, the Beast, is all evil and all powerful. Neither of those early assertions pan out. First of all, early on your placed under the assumption that your time is limited. If this were actually true it would have been a nice device to push the player forward and add some weight to your actions. As it is you can goof around all you like before you happen to play the one critical story mission that will bring the bad guy one step closer to you. Speaking of the Beast, he is a non-factor for the vast majority of the game. You pretty much only really deal with him three times. The character is never fleshed out so the threat it poses never really materializes. In its place you are given the ineffectual Bertrand who is neither menacing nor interesting. Either way the desire to see the bad guy offed is never there to give you incentive to push forward. The two other new characters, Kuo and Nix, are similarly shallow despite the fact that they play into many of the games larger decisions. As a result of the lack of character development the actions you and other characters take at the end of the game feel either unearned or strange. To end this segment of a positive note, I really appreciate that they toned Zeke down.
Infamous 2 is less than the sum of its shiny new parts but it is still a good time because the base gameplay and power fantasy at the core are still fun.
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