Over two years ago, Sony unleashed inFAMOUS onto the PS3, giving gamers one of those beautiful buzz-words that we like to grab hold of and shake repeatedly: “sandbox”. Going where you want, doing side missions in whichever order you want and interacting with pretty much anything and anyone, it all gives a feeling of freedom that gamers love. With inFAMOUS 2 hitting the shelves the challenge was to keep the open gameplay without feeling like more of the same. The results? Impressive. Most impressive.
Taking control of Cole, the courier from the original game who ended up with special electricity-based superpowers, you hit the streets of New Marais in order to find a set of blast cores, needed to power a device that will take down a huge fire-based beast. I won’t go into too much detail as the story is pretty good as it unfolds around you, but those of you who skipped the original game will welcome the introductory recap which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.
From the off your powers are pretty reasonable. You can shoot electricity from your hands, glide through the air a bit and throw huge objects like cars around the place without breaking a sweat. You can also climb up buildings, trees, lamp posts, pretty much anything you can find, and it’s very easy to reach some epic and dizzying heights. The satisfaction of reaching the top of a huge building, seeing the gorgeous-looking city spread out around you, then leaping off to slam down on some local bad guys without so much as spraining your ankle is fantastic. In fact this climbing ability comes in very handy to skip across rooftops to stay undetected by the bad guys. That is until you land on a rooftop inhabited by a bunch of them, obviously.
The more missions and bad guys you deal with, the more XP you earn. That ever-present in-game currency lets you boost your skills and gives you new electrical stuff at your disposal such as sticky grenades, more powerful or multi-directional lightning bolts or some incredible super powers. You’ll need more than just XP to unlock these though – some cool tricks like deflecting missiles or knocking people off rooftops are required and give you a little something else to think about while you’re doing your ass kicking. There are also plenty of ways to cunningly beat your enemies, and destroying a wooden tower or balcony and watching your foes fall to their fate never gets dull.
Throughout the game you get choices to make which affect your moral stance, which gives a few tough decisions through the game. When I played through as a nice caring guy I was always careful to save the public from muggings, capture enemies instead killing them and so on. When I had a choice of missions I chose the righteous path to keep my karma ticking along at a high level. But the more I played, the more I yearned to be a bit of a bastard. When someone suggested I should scare off some street entertainers I desperately wanted to, especially the guy on the bongos, but it would wreck my good-guy stance. And so I played again, this time being as much of a bitch as I could manage. Fallen enemies got executed in a range of ways, protests got broken up violently and that smug bongo player ended up wearing his bongos as a novelty hat. Probably. If there was a reason to play through a game twice, then this totally hits the nail on the head. You’ll even unlock different powers depending on which way you choose to go.
In addition to how great the game looks, moving around is poetry in motion. Initially you may struggle with how quickly Cole moves around, but it won’t take long before you’re leaping from tree to buildings, scaling them with ease before leaping to the nearest rooftop to fire off a few shots at some bad guys below. It can be tricky in the heat of a close-combat fight, and you’ll sometimes give a nearby pedestrian an accidental slap with your super-cattle-prod device, but that’s a small gripe with an otherwise fluid control scheme.
But one of the key additions to inFAMOUS 2 is the User Generated Content. These community-made missions pop up around the map as green glowing markers and give you extra missions away from the main story to try out. There are some really fun missions to be had including fighting off a giant killer disco ball (yes, really) and as the community gets behind this a little more we’re likely to see some fantastic tasks to get involved in. The game never goes online to the point where you’ll interact with others, but this gives you some great dynamic content.
This isn’t a perfect package – some missions have several stages which all have to be completed before an autosave kicks in making it annoying if you get killed, and the camera sometimes struggles with the size of the city, getting caught on a wall and making fighting or jumping a bit tough. But these are just a couple of little issues on an otherwise great game. You’ll get a massive amount of time out of the game, both as a result of the huge number of missions and sub-tasks as well as the many reasons to play through more than one. And the best thing? You’ll enjoy pretty much every minute of it.