|MtAMinutes to Action||4|
|Buy from Amazon|
I vividly recall some trials and frustrations in my time with the original inFAMOUS (not the least of which was that horrible spelling which will henceforth be abandoned), but overall I really enjoyed the game. As much as the sticky platforming, messy mission design, and transparent morality system bothered me, I ultimately had a great time surfing on power lines, tossing electric grenades, and guiding a concentrated lightning storm down alleys of soon-to-be-corpses. It was inevitable that the game would get a sequel due to its ending (and the sad, predictable nature of this industry), and I really hoped that Sucker Punch would iron out a few of the teeth-grating problems I had with the original.
Lo and behold, it's one month and two years later, and there's another Infamous game. Boasting a locale with more colors than gray, melee combat that's not completely worthless, and the promise of acquiring more elemental powers, Infamous 2 certainly seems like the kind of sequel that boasts incremental improvements over the original and hasn't yet worn out the franchise's welcome. Pretty typical of a "2," really.
I find it amusing that the game arrived in my mailbox last Monday, the same day that Sony featured a trailer from the game in its E3 conference. Shortly after their presentation, I had my first taste of Infamous 2. I grabbed three clips from my first hour: arrival at the new sandbox city of New Marais, the first new power tutorial, and an early choice between good and evil sidequests.
- I can't believe this game's opening. I am awestruck by it. And I absolutely hate it. The original Infamous' story wasn't worth a squirrel fart until the plot twist at the very end, which was equal parts cliche, convoluted, and genius. The opening of Infamous 2 stops a lot of the momentum that the first game's climax could have carried throughout the second game. I won't spoil it here, but only because I intend to do so into greater detail in a full review or some kind of spoilerific blog post later on.
- The first game was one of the more polished open-world games I've played, and Infamous 2 seems to improve on the original in that regard. It helps that the New Orleans-inspired New Marais is a much prettier locale than the first game's gray Empire City (New York City in all but name), but the game just feels very smooth overall, its framerate staying solid even with the newly crumbling balconies and warehouse rooftops and pretty RPG smoke trails. I did see some floating debris and clipped through some climbing surfaces, but hey, it's an open-world game; you'll get hiccups like that.
- Even dolled up as it is, familiarity is the key takeaway for this first hour. Climbing up the sides of apartment buildings and shooting lightning bolts from my hands are exactly how I remember them from the first game. That's a good thing: Infamous' control scheme is one of the more effective combinations of platforming and shooting I've come across. It's approachable and uncomplicated but still offers plenty of options.
- The moral choices so far still seem pretty cartoonish. Defuse a bomb and take the power core inside, or chase down and beat a pedestrian who has one in his possession? I also got to carry over the evil karma that I ended the first game with, resulting in an experience point boost and a starting point in the evil part of the spectrum (hence the red lightning).
- Cole's voice sounds less like a gravel thresher, Zeke's annoyance has been toned down greatly, and the ex-NSA agent Lucy Kuo is proving a better female lead than Cole's awful girlfriend Trish was in the first game. Overall, I'm liking where the characters and story are going this time around.
- I didn't expect the music to be quite so good. There aren't any hummable melodies or memorable themes, but the soundtrack always feels situation-appropriate with strings, piano, percussion, or whatever suits the mood.
Minutes to Action: 4
Would I keep playing? Yes. Like the first game, Infamous 2's first hour foreshadows some problems I'll have with overly automatic platforming and wonky mission design. But also like the first game, I'm having more than enough fun to balance out the frustration.