inFamous 2: Lightning strikes twice

June 28, 2011

Cole McGrath can’t catch a break. After finishing off Kessler at the end of inFamous, he found out that this villain was just the beginning, and a greater threat called The Beast would be coming to destroy the world. Little did he think The Beast would strike so soon.

Right from the beginning of inFamous 2, we are thrown into an Empire City where The Beast has manifested and began to destroy everything in sight. Using all of his powers from the first title, Cole attacks The Beast as the city crumbles in the background, but all of his electrical powers barely make a dent in this foe and he is forced to retreat. Relocated to New Marais, Cole hunts the inventor of the ray sphere, searching for the power to take down The Beast that draws closer, destroying everything in its path.

The sequel’s story takes a back seat to the action, and while the dramatic comic book-inspired cutscenes do a decent job of filling in the story, the end result is a generic hero’s quest with an obligatory twist at the end. Karma is once again at play here, so a “good” playthrough will get slightly different story missions than a “bad” one, leading up to two completely different endings depending upon how you play. While it is nice to experience both endings, what really makes the game worthwhile is the action.

For fans of the original, this title picks up immediately where you left off, feeling like an old friend. Rather than pulling a God of War 2 reduction of powers at the beginning of the game, Cole retains most of his powers from the first title and only gets more powerful as the game proceeds. Confronted with adding new powers to an already full suite, Sucker Punch lets the player quickly select different power-button mapping with ease to choose their favorite combination of skills. By the end ,almost every button has several different choices of old and new powers to combine. Unfortunately, power acquisition is feast or famine. It takes Cole a while to get new powers, but once he does, he tends to get multiple powers at once that make skill learning uneven at best.

A notable update from the original is the inclusion of the amp, a melee tuning-fork/electric sword that greatly improves the close-quarters combat. Now Cole is as deadly up close as he is from a distance, and this one improvement greatly increases playability. Sucker Punch also helped make traversing the city faster by increasing Cole’s climbing ability. What was cumbersome in the original becomes fun, as you fly up the sides of buildings in search of blast shards and dead-drops aplenty.

Empire City was a major character in the first inFamous, and New Marais is no different. Adding more color and life, this New Orleans mimic adds significant detail, especially once you get to the second island of Floodtown where the levies broke a couple of years before. Water is still dangerous to Cole, but it no longer causes instant death. Instead, Cole can lure enemies into standing water throughout the game and zap them merely by standing next to them.

Adding a layer to the game is the addition of user-generated content. Similar to LittleBigPlanet, inFamous 2 gives you an impressive array of tools to generate your own side missions for you or others to complete. With the help of characters from the game you can generate scripted events or completely change the feel by generating an arcade game within the game. User-generated missions are hit-or-miss, but luckily there is a rating system to help you keep track of which is which.

inFamous 2 feels like a worthy sequel to the excellent original. Set pieces are bigger, powers are plentiful and the action is awesome. Unfortunately, the end came too soon. Maybe it was designed that way, leaving you wanting more so you could play it again from the opposite karma perspective.

Pros: Great sequel that ups the wow factor across the board and adds great level building tools

Cons: Ho-hum story, uneven powering-up, and over too soon.

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.