the infamous: inFamous 2 - Game Review
Two years ago, Sucker Punch studio successfully started its adventure with the current generation of PlayStation consoles, presenting players with an electrifying production about a superhero - inFamous . The game appealed to reviewers and fans, although it lacked the spark of clarity and impact of thunder. The developer returns to the topic in the second installment of the title, which is quite a typical continuation: repeats some ideas and mistakes, but also introduces completely new solutions. Is the series going in the right direction? To answer this question, we rolled tens of thousands of gigawatts through New Marais.
InFamous ended in a surprising and quite incomprehensible way. Let us remind you that the game is about a courier accidentally turned into a superhero who could successfully become the face of any energy company. Cole MacGrath, because we are talking about him, gained electric powers and with their help he cleansed Empire City of the evil that was born after the explosion of the artifact known as the "ball of rays". In the grand finale, the hero faced Kessler only to realize that the real opponent, the mysterious Beast, was yet to come. A month has passed since seeing an extremely formidable enemy in the end-of-world vision, and Cole is not ready for this encounter. Fortunately, there is hope for an increase in power, and to a great extent. A certain Kuo offers the protagonist a visit to the city of New Marais, where Professor Wolfe, one of the creators of the "ball of rays", resides. McGrath does not hesitate for a moment, because he does not intend to lose his previous achievements.
The opening scenes of inFamousa 2 are surprisingly spectacular and dramatic - we are immediately thrown into the deep water, and the creators show off the possibilities of the game engine and suggest that in the second part of the series we are waiting for a lot of impressions. Together with McGrath, we stand against the aforementioned Beast - a several-dozen-meter giant made of pure energy and lava - which haunts the world prematurely. Cole escapes alive and after a few hours ends up in New Marais. Unfortunately, the situation in this city is as difficult as in Empire City. The area is ruled by the tyrant Bertrand, who has announced a crusade to misfits such as our hero (known in the game world as "guides"). This means that the local police will certainly not help save the world from the Beast and will make life difficult for the "demon from Empire City".
After a spectacular introduction, we return to the old garbage - we get access to the first of the two districts. The structure of the game has not changed compared to the original. Again, by completing side missions, we release map fragments from under the shoes of various factions. As in the first inFamous, it is a completely optional process that only serves to improve the hero's skills and affect his character. For everything we do - from carelessly patrolling the area to helping people - we get experience points that we spend on various improvements. Access to many of them is related to Cole's character, which can be extremely different as standard: good / humane or bad / chaotic. In addition, certain powers are closely related to the story missions in which we collect the so-called blast cores. An interesting feature is the need to complete minor challenges in order to unlock some items. The result is that we are automatically looking for new ways to eliminate enemies.
Side quests are a variation on what we know from "one". We fight opponents in them, attack their "posts" (this time also in the form of boats) or jump on roofs. In total, we got a few types of repeating missions (with some exceptions). The most important thing is that although many of them look familiar, the authors have modified their course and character. Instead of eliminating satellite emitters, we activate energy substations. We also don't do tricks for the photographer, but we take pictures of various objects and situations ourselves. With this kind of refresh, taking the city back from the hands of the crazed militia and other factions is still fun and quite a challenge.
The essence of the game is, of course, the main missions, in which we learn about the next events and gain more and more power. The story from the first inFamous was fine, but faded a bit despite my efforts. In the second part of the game universe, it got solidified and took on a new color, mainly thanks to interesting characters. Cole MacGrath himself is often self-doubting, although he wades ahead and is ready to take the greatest burden. His best friend, Zeke, turned from an annoying fool into a supporting character who often saves the day and is surprisingly nice. To this must be added interesting performances by Kuo and Nix, as well as intriguing and repulsive opponents. Each of these characters has a story or, in other words, a motivation that makes them interesting. So much the worse for people who don't like difficult choices, because that's what awaits us in this adventure.
The issue of morality remains at the center of the game, and has been slightly revamped, so the hero still has a lot of dilemma. First of all, the intensity of small challenges in which we can demonstrate our approach in practice has been increased. Now we intervene dozens of times: disarming bombs, healing the sick, preventing attacks or, on the contrary - stealing valuable debris, silencing rebellious residents or harassing the spirit of guilty street artists (which is perhaps the most far-fetched idea). Sometimes two versions of the side quest appear on the world map. In one of them we try to act for the benefit of citizens, in the other we do not worry about the victims. The ideas of the developers develop the concept laid out in the first game and still have the same advantages and disadvantages. The simple division between the two extremes allows you to build a clearer story, but it seems forced nonetheless.
Overarching choices appear several times in the main story missions and have been associated with our accompanying characters. More specifically, with two women - the lawful and "cool" Kuo and the chaotic and "fiery" Nix. The developers clearly tried to make these two extremes a choice between good and evil only to negate it at some point with the most difficult decision that Cole and the player will make. It is worth repeating that the scriptwriters managed to build interesting characters and an engaging story. So much so that the ending is surprisingly emotional. It would be a crime, of course, to reveal details, but suffice it to say that there is no way without casualties in people and - more importantly - in friends.
Many sequels to games about heroes armed with powerful abilities start with the scene where they hit their heads (or do something equally stupid) and forget everything they've learned so far. Fortunately, InFamous 2 doesn't follow this path and is not telling us to acquire Cole's core powers again. Instead, from the beginning of the game, we are blessed with their new properties, while maintaining most of the electric attacks known from the original. The creators faced the difficult task of expanding the hero's repertoire in such a way that he would not turn into Alex Mercer from Prototype and remain a more down-to-earth hero who does not run, but climbs buildings. They did this by increasing not strength but diversity. By holding down the left button of the d-pad, we get access to different versions of the powers assigned to a given key. At the end of the game, we can choose from several types of lightning, grenades, explosions or rockets. There are also completely new ideas - including a great and spectacular possibility of throwing cars and other objects.
According to tradition, we receive the most interesting powers only at the end of the campaign. Paradoxically, some of them concern getting around the city. Paying attention to this aspect of the game is not surprising, because the game has several hundred explosive fragments as standard, which increase the capacity of Cole's electric charge. Collecting all of them is not required, but will be a must for Trophy Hunters. Let's not forget that our hero cannot use vehicles and he has to get everywhere on foot. In inFamousie 2 , we are not condemned to running around the streets, because MacGrath climbs buildings again with an experience that Alain Robert can dream of. In addition, the hero glides more efficiently and slides faster on the live cables stretched between the roofs. From a certain point in the campaign, he also uses cars as "springboards", and at the end of the game he gains an electric rope in the style of the Just Cause 2 . For dessert, I left the powers that we take from one of the characters - Kuo or Nix. The first one allows you to, for example, jump out of an ice stalagmite and throw frost grenades. The peak of Cole's abilities are ionic powers - from tornadoes to freezing to storms.
Main quests develop the plot and open access to new places where we usually need to connect the electricity. The platforming scenes taking place in the sewers (known from the first game) have been replaced by missions on the surface. We direct tesla missiles at them to hit the next energy substations, and then we defend them against hordes of enemies. New Marais is a city modeled after New Orleans for a reason. Water is Cole McGrath's weakness, and New Orleans was flooded by Katrina a few years ago. Honestly, I was afraid of facing a flooded neighborhood - nothing is more frustrating than having to fight powerful opponents in an unattainable environment. The producer of the game picked up neatly from this trap and made the battles interesting everywhere.
In inFamousie 2 we stand up against a large number of interesting and original gentlemen - from hooded militiamen to real beasts. From the swamps, we are attacked by monstrous creatures, in the clashes with which the new direct combat system works perfectly, introducing simple, but extremely effective special attacks, related to Cole's new "club". The flooded district was taken over by ice commandos, armed with amazing abilities. There are also various mini-bosses - four-legged mutants, huge ice titans or nasty and fat bastards the size of a building. The first meeting with each of them is a real challenge and an emotional experience. Later, when we learn to fight them, the skirmishes can be a bit boring, because they are based on a simple pattern. Many times, we will choose to safely fire rockets at a distance from the more interesting but risky close-up combat. Fortunately, the creators of the sneaking routine counteract larger-scale battles, during which several factions meet on the streets of the city. It's just fun to watch opponents fight each other and ignore MacGrath's presence.
InFamous 2 received a translated title in Poland, which aroused a lot of emotions (and maybe even controversy?). Our "infamous" may not sound as graceful as its English counterpart, but that doesn't mean the location has been placed. Dubbing is at a high level, and although careful players will notice some shortcomings or inaccurate gear ratios, the whole thing makes a very good impression. In the previous installment of the series, several voices were terribly irritated, including primarily Zeke (which was partly due to his ungrateful role). This time, practically all the actors did very well. During the game, we shouldn't feel embarrassed by the characters' statements. And this is probably the most important achievement in the Polish language of action games, in which it is very easy to take the easy way and shallow dialogues to well-worn slogans.
The Sucker Punch studio team has not made great progress in terms of graphics and the second installment of the series looks very similar to the original. So it has the same disadvantages, i.e. primarily a slightly dull color palette and visible shortcomings in the field of anti-aliasing. Anyway - inFamous 2 in action is really good and often surprises with spectacular scenes, which were much less in the previous game. We should also mention the destruction system, which includes balconies, parts of walls and other objects. This interesting addition allows you to use new tactics and demolish the area in an even more spectacular way. The word "addition" is key here, because it is by no means such an extensive and important element of the game as in the recent Red Faction: Armageddon. For this reason, we do not always know which parts of the city can deteriorate, which sometimes leads to disappointment.
The metropolis itself is the result of a compromise between manual work and the use of the copy-paste method, known from the previous installment of the series and many other games. Looking at the individual streets, we will see many identical buildings, shops and facilities. On the other hand, the authors have hidden a few funny flavors here and there. A perfect trick in the nose of the competition is the Red Ring chain of electronic stores (a reference to the failure of the Xbox 360), and a successful parody of the names of films in adult cinemas ("Assassin's Need (Love Too)" or "Call of Booty"). Another thing is that this time we are visiting much more diverse places - the gambling and entertainment district, flooded slums, industrial sector and even tropical swamps. The next missions also bring planned changes to the time of the day, so you can't complain about the lack of variety. It is worth mentioning an interesting diversification of the musical layer, which now consists of ambient pieces seeping softly in the background. At certain moments, however, the game treats us with short, but extremely catchy motifs. These small inserts perfectly create the atmosphere and emphasize the spectacular moments.
In its next installment, inFamous has not changed in many respects, which is an advantage on the one hand and a disadvantage on the other. The creators slightly improved the control system and made the process of crossing the city more dynamic thanks to the new skills of the hero. Unfortunately, when we try to force Cole to do some extravagance, we are still doomed to his whim, which can end fatally during more difficult fights (the character automatically sticks to certain objects). Moreover, comic situations occurred sporadically, most often resulting from the semi-automatic climbing system. The hero sometimes got stuck in a given position, got stuck in the surroundings or clumsily clung to the edge. It didn't happen all the time, although you do have to get used to the specific system of movement. The problem is the camera, which sometimes shows cute pieces of gray wall instead of action. This happens most often during close combat and using special attacks.
One of the most innovative additions to inFamousa 2 is the editor that allows you to play with the game world as much as you want, and even publish fully-fledged mini-quests for other players. The idea straight from LittleBigPlanet or ModNation Racers was supported by several tutorials and example missions created by Sucker Punch studio. The system is quite interesting, because thanks to the search engine for amateur creations, we can control the chaos on the map. The tools themselves are not as powerful as in the above-mentioned titles, but they seem to guarantee a good field for home-grown creators to show off. In the editor, we can create a mission with dialogues (in the form of subtitles), enemies and various objectives. For now, players are focusing on creating simple tasks of killing waves of enemies, but it is worth hoping that we will receive real gems soon.
Cole MacGrath is back in style and his personal progress translates into the quality of the game itself. InFamous 2 is a continuation that develops ideas known from two years ago in the right direction. The creators managed to make the story more interesting and expressive, as well as enrich the hero's repertoire with new, useful powers. The adventure takes us to interesting, though a bit too imitative, places and guarantees a lot of attractions, spectacular fights and challenges. In all this, we could use more grassroots work, i.e. manual differentiation of missions, tweaking individual parts of the city and improving the control system. The shortcomings of this type, however, pale in the face of the advantages of the production, which seems to be a dream come true for the fans of the original and other fans of this type of games.
. Szymon "Hed" Liebert