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“Half as Long, Twice as Bright” – Infamous 2 Review, Spoiler Free

Week or so ago I played the bejesus out of Infamous 2. Namely because I’d only have it for a week and of that week I could only really play it for maybe three days because the Misses STILL has not picked up a controller to even try the first game.

/disappointed glare

As I don’t want her to see any of the huge spoilers from the first game that will likely come up in the second, that meant I had to play the game around her schedule.  (I’m not going to ask her to leave just so I can beat the game, you big thilly’s.  And it’s not like I actually suggested that… or anything ^_^;) My main goal was to beat the game as fast as possible.  That meant no side missions, no real sight-seeing, just meat-n-potatoes story mission grind.  On Normal, to boot.  I’m not watering down the experience solely to get at the ending and playing on Easy.

This is pretty grueling on the game’s end, actually.  I had to catapult through the game without any delays while still sticking around things like TV ads giving off potential background on upcoming characters and all that.  I only picked up blast shards as I came upon them and the only side missions I did were the Good ones to unlock abilities.  That meant no extra XP to spend on other abilities, potentially leading to “this would be so much easier if I just had x Ability but I can’t spend an extra hour to unlock that…” situations.  The biggest negative going for the game was that I was in a rush, making every cheap death or repeated cut scene all the more infuriating, and on top of that I had to randomly turn off the game depending on when the Misses was doing stuff in ear shot and all that.

Annnd?

End result?  Though staggered and grinding gameplay sessions they were, the game passed with extremely high marks.  The funny thing is my grindy storyline mission marathon is eerily similar to the time I played the original game.  I did not have a console of my own at the time and needed to do another speed-run and while I knew about it via the demo, I had to hit the ground running as I had no idea how long it would sprawl.  That game also was very enjoyable even though it had the constant “must go faster” mentally nipping at the heels of my gaming experience.

Upon loading up the game you have the option to start fresh or load up a previous save from the first game, which swings you in a slight direction of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on your actions in that save of the original.  Just as last time I opted to go the Good route on my first and potentially only attempt.

Pretty much instantly you come upon a certain boss and have to fight them.  The sequence just getting to and away from the boss is handled pretty well with the ground shaking and wooden boards rippling about like someone playing an antique piano looked fantastic.  The graphics seemed to get a hefty overhaul since the last game and they looked really sharp and crisp.  I got a smaller and definitely old TV but it looked great to me.  I don’t know about the bigger 1080 resolution brothers and sisters in gaming, but I can vouch for my screen being adequate for the experience.

While other reviewers seemed to suggest you get the crud kicked outta ya, I disagree.  You take down the boss and just before making your escape it just appears and apparently drains you as you shoot lighting into their crater’d face.  It does not appear that you are being drained at all, and while they do have some leeway as this is supposed to be rather comic booky, it is the usual Metroid setup where you had uber abilities and gadgets and all that, but now you gotta start over.  Luckily for us, this isn’t a complete loss but rather a ‘weakened state’ so you can still glide and shoot.  Still need to earn shooting rockets and all that, but the game offers so much along the way you hardly miss anything ‘lost’.

Next thing you know you are whisked away to New Orleans Marais and a whole new set of sights.  Seeing the center square all aglow in neon lights at night is a really pretty sight, and shows just how well the engine has been improved upon since the first game.  Ironically I think the lightning itself was dumbed down in this version.  The first one seemed more sparky and jagged when you fired a long shot. This one looks more like there are 50 different lightning images in the game and they just spam one after another, frame-by-frame, and while you can tell it is lightning, I feel like I actually fired off bursts of electricity in the first game while not so much here.  This isn’t bad, but just something I felt.  And yes, I tried all the lightning versions…

…As there are a LOT of new twists on the original abilities to be had.  Long range, short-range, fast firing or slower but stronger, all there.  The bread-and-butter lightning ability is kinda boring compared to the other stuff available though, at least right out of the gates.  It took me like five to eight shots to kill each guy at the very start of a game on Normal.  Head shots seemed to speed it up, but those aren’t very easy to get.  So if ten guys appear you are looking at 40-70 button presses if you never miss once.  Luckily you ‘level up’ pretty fast and start unlocking better versions and my ol’ fav.: grenades.  These too, along with almost every other ability in this game, have different versions depending on your good or evil status.

Melee also got completely reworked, and for the better.  Even after upgrading melee in the first game it was more of an after-thought and it never really did much damage, especially at the end of the game when it was near completely useless.  Melee in this version is very powerful, a few hits to fill up a meter and you can launch a special attack that can pretty much one-shot most enemies even if they had full health.  It provides a great alternative to mindlessly zapping away those tough targets for ten minutes.

The landscapes are for the most part varied, but the last section lacks personality.  You have the bright and neon-y city, the hurricane wrecked area, and an industrial area.  The starting area is pretty much the entire first came meshed into one area (parks, bright lights, houses, etc.), the hurricane area is a nice change as water is damaging-to-deadly depending on depth, pardon the alliteration.  Most of the homes only have a few feet of a roof sticking out of the water and tarps or spray paint adorn many of those.  (Including one hilarious easter egg.) The industrial district has a lot of buildings and things to jump off of and all that, but it just doesn’t feel as cool as the other two in my opinion.  Not that it is bad, merely that it is just not as good as the previous two.

Note: They promoted the idea of powersliding up pipes and sideways at least years E3.  But that was total false advertising.  They presented it like you could do this with a power on ALL pipe-climbing sections, when in actuality only a VERY LIMITED amount of those suckers exist, and I never even found a sideways one.  There is a trophy you can get for using 50 of these launchers and I had to hop on the same one repeatedly just to get it.  Shenanigans!

The story of InFamous 2 is not as earth-shattering as the first, and minus one quick message over the radio they never really reveal anything that happened in the first game.  They mention people and you can tell there was some bad blood or history between the people mentioned, but they never actually say anything.  This was a surprise to me, but I think it was a great decision.  If people pick up this game they don’t exactly know what happened in the first, allowing them to go back to it and purchase that game as well ^_^  The story is deeply connected to your actions, though, and this combo is a biggie.

Moral Dilemma

I have a whole other post in mind on this issue alone because I really like where the entire market is headed, but there are still some flaws that need to be cleared up.  To stay on topic about this game alone, while your decisions dictate the outcome of the game, it still feels kinda shallow.  I do not want to knock the game at all, it really is awesome and I fully recommend this one to anyone out there with working thumbs, but if I see room for improvement I’m going to call it out.  In this case, the ‘Good or Bad choices’ need some polishing.

For starters, there are only about three or at most five times in the entire game where you have an option on a mission.  The biggest Pro of this is that each option plays completely different from the other.  The flip-side is that no matter your decision, the story will progress like nothing really happened.  It equates to having to go to work at a car dealership and being able to decide to take a motorcycle or a Volkswagen to attend a meeting at the office.  Both vehicles feel different, you even take different routes entirely, but you will still arrive at the same destination.

Compounding this is the biggest whopper in the room, and something it shares with the original: Nno matter what those decisions are previously, at the very end of the game you are given an option.  Depending on how what you choose, your alignment will completely shift to that options side.  With just one option near the finish line, the entire game’s worth of decisions are wiped clean, much like when gameshows offer ten points per question, but then put up a million for the final round.  What is the point of being in the lead if one question wrong wipes out all your hard work?

Also, and this ties into the other post I have planned, developers have a disdain for evil decisions.  The short of it is, if you are going to offer two or more options for something, do not condone the ‘good’ and chastise the ‘bad’.  Keep it even.  At least, let important characters commend the good, and let the Red Shirts clamor against the bad.  That way the bad player can at least kill off those guys, as after a while it just gets annoying >.>  It’s like the reward of playing ‘good’ is a solid ending, while the reward of playing ‘bad’ is simply being able to play ‘bad’ in the first place. The first game balanced it a lot better in that regard.

Yay For Telligble Voice Actors!

And the voice acting is waaaay better this time around!  In the original InFamous, the main character started out gritty as his neutral voice and became slightly easier to understand the more Good he was while fully venturing down “WHYUTRYIN2KEELMEH?!” a la The Dark Knight Interrogation scene if you went Bad.  In InFamous 2 his voice never changes and is always easy to understand.  They also went in and added personality to everyone, adding a nice light-hearted tone this time around with everyone adding a wise crack now and then for some pretty decent laughs.

Yay or Nay?

Definitely a Yay.  I ended up beating the game on Normal as Good, then going back and beating it on Hard as Bad.  Of course the game did not give me credit for doing so, so I lost out on a trophy that I worked hard for and that bothered me quite a bit.  In the end I beat the game twice (once I hard, trophy be darned), got all 305 blast shards, all the dead drops, and conquered all the areas on the map in three days.  I was rushing myself, but even if I played relaxed I could easily do it in under a week as the quality of gameplay was rather engaging and addictive. The only downside of it is as soon as I did this, the game lost all replayability.  I simply had nothing left to do XD

Now, this could have been combatted and possibly solved by actually hopping online and doing player-made missions or making a few of my own, but getting the ps3 online is quite the hassle for me and it only got worse when the network went down for two months or so.  If my net on the console was as solid as the PC I would have dabbled with it, but I just wanted to see where the story went anyway.

I’d rate InFamous 2 a “Buy” when it was first released, and if it ever gets a price reduction, or if you are a fan of the online stuff you can do, I’d bump that up to a “Must Buy.”

They are coming out with a vampire based stand-alone DLC much like what Undead Nightmare for Red Dead Redemption.  That should be out in just about a month from now.

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One response »

  1. Thanks for the great review. I have been reading up on this game all day and this is the first that’s spoiler free! The first game was pretty good. I was only disappointed by repetitive foes and missions. I recently received InFamous 2 in the mail from my Blockbuster Movie Pass service provided by my TV provider/employer DISH Network. I played it pretty heavily and found that the game was solid save for repetitiveness. The one thing I really didn’t like about either game was the cookie cutter good vs. evil choices. At no point did they feel like either choice had weight to it. It comes down to what color you want your powers to be. I won’t get much replay value from this game. Which is why I’m glad it’s a rental and not a purchase. That saves me $60 on a one time play through. This is exactly why I got the Blockbuster Movie Pass. For just $10 a month I get thousands of movies and TV shows streaming to my TV and computer. The main reason I got the service was for the disk rentals. They have thousands of DVD movies, TV shows, Blu rays and games to choose from!

    Reply

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