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Review Infamous 2 - Not so Shockingly badass
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    Default Infamous 2 - Not so Shockingly badass




    Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
    Release Date(s): NA June 7, 2011
    AUS June 9, 2011
    EU June 10, 2011
    JP July 7, 2011
    Genre: Sandbox-Super powers


    Backstory:
    In 2009 Sucker Punch released their new IP for the Playstation 3, inFamous. It was a superhero inspired open world game, that told the story of Cole MacGrath, a conduit, who obtained electric powers in a blast created by a device known as the Ray Sphere. After the blast Cole goes through a set of events that first have him trying to escape Empire City, and then he meets a woman named Moya who forces him to find a man named John White, as well as the Ray Sphere. From there Cole goes through differing sets of events in his search for the Ray Sphere and John White that lead to him becoming either hero or villain to the people of Empire City, completely changing the way his friends and loved one’s view him through a series of karma based events. After going through many of these karma based events and story missions, Cole finally find John White, who eventually leads him to the Ray Sphere, and a final confrontation with the main antagonist of the game, Kessler. After the final battle with Kessler, you learn that the real threat is a being known only as “The Beast” and it will be your job to defeat it either as the hero trying to protect Empire City, or as the villain who is trying to prove how powerful he really is.



    Story:
    One month after the events of the original inFamous, we are now at the start of inFamous 2. In the beginning we learn that after Cole defeated Kessler, an NSA agent named Lucy Kuo arrived in Empire City to help Cole prepare for the Beast. She informs Cole that a scientist named Wolfe helped to develop the Ray Sphere, and was willing to help Cole obtain even greater power in order to take down “The Beast.” In order to get these power enhancements, Cole would have to follow Kuo down South to the city of New Marais, bringing along his friend Zeke in the process. Before the three of them can leave for New Marais, “The Beast” arrives and rips apart Empire City, also defeating Cole as he tries to stop it. From there Cole and his companions arrive in New Marais, which begins a long journey of Cole trying to get enough power to defeat “The Beast.”

    In inFamous 2, there are a variety of ways in which the story is told, very much in the same way there were a variety of ways the story was told in inFamous 1. In the exact same way we had story missions, dead drops, and karma to push story in inFamous 1, we have all of that in inFamous 2. First, the story based missions. Much like every other open world game, there are storyline missions that are used to move the plot, and that is no different here. You do a story based mission, and depending on how important a plot point you uncover either after or during a particular mission, you will either get in-game cut-scene’s or beautifully crafted comic book inspired cut-scene’s. These story mission not only progress Cole’s overall adventure, but also reveal secrets for some of the major characters you find along the way, such as Nix, one of Cole’s female conduit companions, and Bertrand, the main antagonist and secondary threat of the game. All of these events lead to Cole getting stronger, and also fuel his desire to defeat Bertrand and “The Beast.”

    The next way in which the story is told is through Dead Drops. There are a total of 29 in the entire game, and each one of them can be found on carrier pigeons. These carrier pigeons hold audio diaries recorded by Wolfe, and all involve conversations he had with John White, Lucy Kuo, and Bertrand. Through these audio diaries we get a background of the events that happened in the first game, as well as background on Lucy Kuo, John White, and Bertrand. Through these dead drops we learn why John White and Lucy Kuo were specifically chosen by the NSA to be on the mission involving the Ray Sphere. We learn why Bertrand, a overly religious man, would want to work with a scientist like Wolfe. On top of all this, depending on whether or not you chose to be good or evil in the first inFamous, certain audio diaries will be changed to reflect some of your actions in the first game, and give a better idea of what John White and the others truly think of Cole.

    One final aspect to the story that I wanted to mention, is the relationship between Cole and Zeke. In the first game they started out as best friends, but due to certain events that took place in inFamous, their friendship became strained and almost non-existent. In inFamous 2 we see them back together, but the strain on their friendship is still noticeable. For that reason, we see Zeke do everything he can to make his friendship with Cole what it used to be, really putting himself in the middle of everything, either by creating items to combat enemies, or simply by watching Cole’s back whenever he passes out from the use of a Blast Core, the device that increases Cole’s powers. Their friendship is a major part of the story, though from the looks of it, you might not think that way. The fact is, throughout the story there a multiple Zeke and Cole moments, focusing solely on them and their relationship, which makes certain events that take place in both endings all the more meaningful once you realize exactly how important their friendship is.


    Karma:
    Now, I previously mentioned that Karma is used as a way to progress the story, much the same as it was in the first game, but because it is such an important part of the franchise I’m breaking it off into its own section. As mentioned, Karma is used to progress the story, mainly through a series of Karma based mission that you the player gets to partake in. Most of these missions will be side-missions, that will shed light on the conduits if you chose good, or simply shed light on Nix if you chose evil.



    In certain cases these karma events will move into the main story missions, changing the way in which you approach a situation, and at some point, forcing the player to decide whether or not they prefer good karma and ice powers, or evil karma and fire powers. Karma also decides other kinds of powers Cole has, but I will get to that later in the review. One major complaint I have in regards to Karma on the story is that, with the exception of the two potential endings, you don’t really see the effect the Karma has. In the original inFamous, characters would notice your good/evil actions, call you out on your choices, and eventually re-act differently to you based upon the kind of choices you make. For instance, in the first game, when you help Trish move medical supplies, depending on whether you are good or evil, she will either wish to get back together with you, or tell you to stay as far away from her as possible. Those kinds of moments are essentially non-existent until the very end of the game, making the good play-through the most consistent play-through in terms of story-telling.

    Outside of story-telling and mission structure, there are other ways in which karma has an effect on the game. One involves powers, which I will get to later, and the other involves your interactions with the civilians of New Marais and your journey to becoming either “Hero” or “inFamous.” In the first inFamous you had a half-circle meter in the upper left corner of the screen showing your progression to either “Hero” or “inFamous” and that same half-circle is in inFamous 2. The way in which you would progress in the first game was mainly through the good/evil side missions and karma events that would happen mostly in the middle of a story driven mission. The only other ways to move the meter towards one of the two ends was to either heal the sick or wounded, or just go on a massive killing spree. In inFamous 2, Sucker Punch has made interaction with the town of New Marais and its civilians a much bigger part of becoming either “Hero” or “inFamous.” As the game progresses more and more karma influenced choices will show up on the map, some choices actually being capable of going both ways in regards to becoming either the good guy or the bad guy. These choices can range from stopping a mugging, to healing the sick/wounded, or stopping a blast shard bomb from exploding if you choose to be good. If you choose to be evil you can blow up a blast shard bomb, silence a street performer, or attack the cops. All of these choices and more will be shown on the mini-map, letting you the player know there are tons of karma opportunities to improve your journey to becoming either the hero or the villain.

    Now, I can’t talk about Karma without talking about Nix and Kuo. Nix represents the evil, and Kuo represents the good, which is made even more apparent by the fact that all of Nix’s powers are red and all of Kuo’s are blue. Nix and Kuo give Cole his good and evil missions, and they show support to him when he does good or evil things. A minor nit I have is that the support they show is recorded dialogue that is spoken over and over again throughout the game, which becomes somewhat annoying after a while. In the previous game, when Zeke or Trish had something to say in regards to Cole’s good or evil choices, the dialogue was new, fresh, and never repeated. I would have liked for the same thing to have happened here, giving Cole and his new female companions a greater chance to bond, and giving the player more reason to care about them. Now, outside of this, they also give him powers, which are copies of some of the powers they have, and I will get to that in the very next section.



    Game-play and Powers:
    In the first inFamous, the game mechanics were divided into two groups, third person shooter-like combat, and open world exploration/parkour. The way in which these mechanics played out were through the electric powers Cole received from the Ray Sphere. Cole began with a simple electric bolt that would most likely be the equivalent to a pistol in a regular third-person shooter, and as the game progressed more and more powers were unlocked. These powers ranged from electric grenades, to precision shooting (sniper), exploration abilities such as hand gliding and wire-grinding. Most all of these powers, once unlocked, could be made stronger by selling experience points, adding an RPG mechanic to the game. On top of this was the collection of blast shards which granted Cole more energy to use in combat, and the effects karma had on his individual powers. The kind of effects that could be seen were a simple change in color, blue equating to good, and red equating to evil, as well as the level or damage that certain attacks could do. For instance, the good karma electric grenade would stick to an enemy, and then trap them in electric hand-cuffs in order to preserve life. The evil karma electric grenade was quite the opposite, multiplying into many smaller grenades to create more destruction and guarantee the death of enemies. This all returns in inFamous 2, with slight changes to the power upgrade mechanic, as well as new ways in obtaining powers, besides Nix and Kuo (as mentioned above).

    In this game, players will start with many of the powers they had in the first game, most importantly the exploration powers, such as the electric grind and hand gliding abilities. Other powers that return at the very beginning are the electric bolt (alpha bolt), electric grenade (alpha grenade), and electric wave (alpha wave). With these powers you begin to explore New Marais and combat the many enemies that can be found inside. As you progress through the game you will get more powers, some completely new such as the kinetic pulse, and many that return from inFamous 1, such as the alpha rocket.

    To unlock these powers, the player will have to go through a combination of becoming “Hero” or “inFamous” depending on what side they wish to be on, performing different stunts on enemies, unlocking power from a Blast Core, completing side missions, and swapping power with either Nix or Kuo. Mind you, no matter how many powers you unlock, you will still need to get as much experience as possible to actually be able to buy the powers and use them. Even so, getting that experience requires completion of missions, doing stunts, doing karma based activities that will push Cole to either “Hero” or “inFamous” and obtaining Blast Cores. This makes the entire game one fluid experience, as everything connects, meaning that everything you do actually matters, so you never feel like you’re pointlessly grinding or trophy whoring, you’re simply getting the fullest experience possible, because the developers made the game with such fluidity to grant that full experience. With all that said, back to the powers.

    Now, I mentioned the different ways in which you can obtain powers throughout the game. The two ways you are guaranteed new powers is by obtaining Blast Core’s and swapping abilities with either Nix or Kuo. These events happen through story based missions, so you will automatically obtain these new powers, and with the exception of a few ice powers from Kuo or a few fire powers from Nix, you won’t have to worry about performing stunts to unlock the ability to use them, just spend experience points.

    I keep mentioning stunts, and for those who have not played the inFamous series may be wondering what I’m talking about, so let me explain. In the first inFamous, stunts were simply interesting ways to kill an opponent. Sometimes it was as simple as using shockwave to push an enemy off a building, and other times it was an elaborate series of attacks used to kill enemies in creative ways, such as sticking a grenade to an enemy and then shooting them with an electric bolt to kill them before the grenade exploded. Now, while these stunts were interesting, the only real purpose of the stunts was to obtain a trophy. In inFamous 2 however, stunts are used to unlock certain abilities in the second and third tier of powers Cole has the potential to use. For instance, once you unlock the ability to use electric rockets, to use variations of it, you must do the dead eye stunt multiple times, which requires you to get a close, direct hit on an enemy with a rocket. Once this stunt is completed enough times, a new, more powerful variation will be unlocked. The same applies for many other kinds of attacks, such as the grenades, shockwaves, and standard electric bolts.

    Now another new way to obtain powers in this game is by completing missions. There are well over 60 missions in the game, but they only ask you to complete a total of 60 missions to unlock the ability to purchase the mission based enhancements. These enhancements include more ionic slots (which I will get to shortly), a better precision shot, and a very special blast shard finding ability that you obtain after completing a total of 60 missions. Also, the blast shard finding ability is made known quite early on in the power menu, taunting you to get it throughout the game, pushing you to complete every side mission you can, not only to get full control of New Marais, not only to get lots of experience points, not only to get the trophy’s for completing side mission, but mostly so you can get every blast shard in the game. Also, before I move onto the karma and ionic powers, I’d quickly like to make a few points about the blast shards, comparing the inFamous 1 and 2. In the first game, blast shard collection was fun, mostly because you knew it was powering you up, but the lack of a blast shard locator near the end of the game made searching frustrating, partially due to the amount of electric items on your map, and also because of the fatigue the player gets from constantly pushing the L3 button. On top of that, you had to be directly on top of a blast shard to collect it, and due to Cole being sticky while climbing buildings, that could get frustrating. In inFamous 2, you can push L2 button or the L3 button, removing some fatigue and annoyance. You don’t have to be grinding onto a blast shard to get it, simply coming close to it will allow for you to collect it, and with Cole being less sticky and there being better controls, simply getting close is easier to do. Finally, as mentioned, the blast shard locating power completely removes any frustration involved in finding the blast shards, making the exploration fun all the way through.

    Along with the newer ways to get power such as Blast Core’s, stunts, and side missions, there are still karma powers that can be obtained, just from progressing through the game, and focusing on either being a good guy or a bad guy. The big change made here, as previously mentioned, is the swapping of abilities with Kuo or Nix. Not only do you get specific versions of powers based on being good or being evil, but you also get new elemental abilities, such as an ice shield and ice jump for being good and picking Kuo, and a hellfire rocket and monster summoning ability for being evil and picking Nix. Other than that the good and evil variations are still very similar to the first game, as good is more focused, and evil is more chaotic, meant to create as much damage as possible.

    The last bit of powers, and something that is obtained through getting Blast Cores, are Ionic powers. For those who played the first inFamous, you will remember a lighting storm ability that was obtained near the very end of the game. It was Cole’s most devastating attack. Well in this game, that power, and other powers like it are known as Ionic powers, due to how powerful they are. There are only a few Ionic powers, one of which is the Lightning Storm from the first game, and the other is the tornado shown in all the demo’s and trailers before the game came out. There are specific Ionic powers that are obtained based on Karma, but I’ll let you all figure out what those are. Now, because these powers are so devastating, in order to balance out the game, they developers force you to have Ionic energy to use these powers, and the only way to obtain Ionic energy, is by defeating enemies, and those enemies leaving Ionic aura for you to absorb after they die. Even so, it’s not like you can gather tons of this Ionic energy in order to use your Ionic powers whenever you see fit. You only get 3 Ionic slots, and you have to unlock the ability to use those slots by completing missions, much the same as you have to complete missions to get the blast shard finding power. This keeps the game balanced, while also making the moments when you use your Ionic powers much more satisfying.


    New Marais and level design:
    Much the same as Empire City was broken up into three districts in the first game, New Marais is broken up into three districts as well, but unlike Empire City, each district in New Marais is completely different. In Empire City, each district had their own distinctions, but the overall layout for each district was essentially the same. In New Marais, each district is completely different, not only having a distinct look, feel, and sound, but also granting new and interesting ways for Cole to explore.

    First district you come across is Ascension Parish, which is the most cultured part of New Marais. Here you have the beautiful architecture of the church, and the video game referenced Red Light section of town, with lusty films named after popular games such as Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank, Halo Reach, and Assassins Creed. On top of this you also have a tiny little neighborhood, a graveyard, and much more. This area is absolutely beautiful to look at, and thanks to the amount of work put into it, there is a real sense of scale, vertigo, and distance when moving throughout the city. This area is best suited for wall climbing, and parkour across the rooftops. The vast number of buildings, clock tower, church, and much more make that kind of travel perfect for Ascension Parish.



    The next district is Flood Town, which gives New Marais its biggest connection to New Orleans, the town it is based off of. Flood Town was hit with, you guessed it, a flood, years before Cole ever had powers. This makes Flood Town the most dangerous place for Cole to travel in, simply because it is covered in water, and for those who don’t know, water is basically Cole’s kryptonite. Thankfully there are grind wires everywhere, making that the most preferred way to travel, and because there are grind wires everywhere, and they are so well placed throughout the city, you really never have to touch the ground when you’re in there. Also, right alongside the water filled parts of Flood Town, there is a train yard, which also has a lot of water in it, but due to the amount of train cars, travel over there is relatively safe, unless you come across the militia.

    The final district of New Marais is Gas Works, which is basically a prettier, more industrial version of Empire City. Here are travel is preferred, as there are tons of gas tanks to grind on the side of, which will push you high in the sky, giving you tons of hand gliding opportunities. Also, certain parts of town are under Ice Conduit control, which makes this town very dangerous, but also means that there’s a cool ice tower in the middle of the district that you get to climb.

    Now, it is important to mention that like the first game, most of these areas are cut off due to power outage caused by enemies. Unlike the first game, you won’t be going into dark, water filled sewers. Instead, when the story requires you to turn the power back on, you will find a power box, and have a Tesla Missile mini game in which you guide the missile from one power box to the next, possibly killing enemies along the way. The only annoying thing about this is that you have to protect the boxes while power returns to the city, which involves you fighting off an onslaught of what appears to be never ending enemies. I guess it’s at least better than being randomly gunned down from a building miles away like in the first inFamous. Thankfully none of that happens in this one, the enemies here don’t notice you half the time, which makes for great sneak attacks.

    Before I move onto some of the other parts of inFamous 2, I would like to mention the destructibility of the environments. If I were to start listing off other games, to give people an idea of what inFamous 2 is like, I would first say that it has an even more elaborate and detailed level design than Assassin’s Creed 2. The second thing I would say is, while I’ve never played Red Faction Guerrilla, I’ve heard it has massive destruction of buildings, and would make that comparison here. The destructibility of environments in inFamous 2 is mind-blowing at times. Whether playing as good or evil, the environmental devastation that can be caused is astounding. You go from giant gas containers blowing up, to parts of buildings crumbling down, to streets being ripped apart, and cars piling up like a horrible accident on the highway. It’s destruction like I’ve never seen.


    Enemies:
    So far I’ve made mention of the story, the powers, and the city of New Marais. All of this makes up for a beautifully crafted world, with abilities that make the player full like a total badass. None of that would matter though if the game wasn’t challenging, and I must say, each set of enemies makes the game more and more challenging as you progress. There are a total of three sets of enemies, not including Bertrand and “The Beast.” There is the militia which is controlled by Bertrand, the Swamp monsters, and the Ice Conduits. The militia is clearly just a copy of the soldiers from Uncharted 2. The Swamp Monsters have a similar design to the Necromorphs found in Dead Space. Finally, the Ice Conduits are simply the Dusk Men from inFamous, but with Ice Powers. Each group has is built up into multiple parts, with multiple variations of the standard soldiers, then there’s the heavy opponents, which have more fire power and more armor, and then there are the super heavy’s such as the Crusher. Now within the Swamp Monsters and Ice Conduits, there are even bigger monsters to worry about, ones that take time and pattern matching to kill, kind of like a mini boss.



    Each of these groups of enemies bring their own level of challenge, and require different methods of combat, such as the Swamp Monsters being easier to fight off with melee attacks, and the militia being better to fight off from far away.


    UGC:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lq57HK_5gY
    The User Generated Content is the newest edition to the series, and something new entirely for Sucker Punch. I cannot really give too much comment on this function of the game. All I can say is that from what I’ve seen, there is great potential here. The tools for creation appear to have little limitations, and whenever the truly creative decide to put time into designing levels, I can see this being a great feature. For now though, it’s just a great idea that has a lot of untapped potential.


    Overall Opinion:
    I could go into much greater detail on inFamous 2. I could talk about the News Anchor and how she adds to the story, letting you know that “The Beast” is coming and the level of damage being done in his journey to New Marais. I could spend time talking about the soundtrack, and how varied it is. I could talk about each and every little egg in this game, but I think it’s best to let you play and find out. I have personally found this to be the most enjoyable gaming experience of the year, This game fixes every problem the first inFamous had, and polishes up the camera, character movement, TPS controls, and so much more, to a level that makes the original inFamous look mediocre at best. This game is as if someone took inFamous, combined it with Assassins Creed 2, added the destructibility of Red Faction, and grabbed a bunch of elements from Uncharted 2 to make one of the most fluid and well thought out games released so far this year. If that doesn’t make you want to play, then I don’t know what will.

    Rating:
    9/10

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    Amazing and long Review.. lol

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    Definitely a top notch review! I haven't read it all, but I read a majority last night, and the game sounds awesome. I'll have to wait for a price drop though, cause there are too many games I'm currently saving up for.

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    Nice review indeed. Only read thru half of it, will read the rest in a bit. Game looks awesome, already saw a bunch of gameplay vids.

    Makes me wish I could do some of the stuff he can do.
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    don't feel bad man, I READ ALL OF IT. i'm real interested. haha! thanks for the official review.

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    I played the demo of Infamous 2, It wasn't that good, but it was alright for the first few days of playing it.

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    Infamous 1 sucked. Not buying numbah 2.
    It may be just because I am a 360 fan but it sucked...

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    The Demo was kinda meh, as for Infamous 1 yeah it had it's bugs and glitches but other then that it was an amazing story with fun Gameplay mechanics, as I stated above though Infamous 2 makes Infamous 1 seem mediocre at best. they really improved the ENTIRE game.

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    WOW! I've been putting off going for infamous 2 for ages because I had heard a few gripes and didn't think it was worth the dissappointment. But you just changed my mind, man.

    I have to say this is one of the most detailed reviews I have ever read. You really seem to have done the game justice. Nice one!

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    number 1 was one of the best ps3 games only i h ave not tryed number 2 but i am going to buy it once it drops in price.
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