Infamous 2. Oh, where do I begin? Before I get into the real nitty-gritty, I want to make it clear that I’m very hard to impress. I’m more inclined to dislike games than like them. So when I tell you that Infamous 2 features in, if not tops, my Favourite 3 games, I hope you understand what I’m saying.
I’ve now played through the storyline of this game three times over. I’ve done both endings, but on my most recent playthrough, chose the Good Karmic alignment. There’s just something so pure about making Cole a hero to these people. I should also mention that both endings left me in tears. Like, stupid, gut-wrenching, what-a-stupid-game, stop-crying-I-can’t, sobs.
This game has it all. Story, script, character development, combat, travel, setting, music – EVERYTHING. Most games excel in one or two areas of expertise. Dragon’s Dogma, another of my all-time favourites, is great in combat and setting, but really lacks character development and tends to fall-back on tropes to save time. Uncharted 3, the other of my Big 3, comes close – story, script, charrie development, music, setting – but the combat and travel let it down (I’m the biggest sucker for open world environments, I can’t even begin to explain. If you’ve got an open world, you’ve got an Aprille).
Infamous 2 never really stops giving, so it’s kind of hard to break the entire game down for review. I’ll try to stick to specific sections.
One of the best stories in a game, I’ve played to date. Not overly complicated so as to take focus from the other components, but interesting and exciting. It’s very easy to go from story mission to story mission – it flows extremely well and develops quietly, slowly so you don’t even realise it.
I’m also a sucker for tragic endings (which is why this game has my name written ALL over it). Impossible choices are the best ones to write. They leave your audience conflicted and confused, making them reassess what they themselves would do in the same situation. It allows for real reader/gamer connections to the game, and is one of the most sure fire ways to create real personalisation. But now I’m just rambling.
The story sets you up. You fall right into its pit trap and at the end, at the final choice, you’re completely blind-sided. As Cole says “This thing isn’t quite as cut and dry as we thought.” – AWESOME. Brilliant. That’s exactly what I want to hear. I don’t want a story spoon-fed to me. I want to make my own decisions, my own interpretations, and Infamous 2 definitely allows this.
One of the most essential elements for a successful game, and Infamous nailed it. No cheesy dialogue, no corny attempts at crappy humour. What humour does exist is quite good, giving in tiny little tid-bits when you least expect it. Zeke is the one to deliver most of it, and it defines his character well. Two of my favourite quotes:
(when talking about New Marais): “We’re here for the three B’s – beer, boobs… and mechanical bulls.”
(after Cole has drained several network dishes, allowing Zeke to hack the feed and place an ‘advert’ for Cole’s love life): “He loves all that romantic crap. Long walks on the beach. Picnics. With cheese.”
Hell, give me a picnic with cheese and Cole MacGrath and I’d be so fricken happy.
The script just ties in with the game well. A few info dumps here and there don’t go astray (you usually need them), and each character stays true to their personality and make rational choices.
Nix probably displayed the biggest growth here. I won’t mention the exact moment for fear of spoilers, but I was glad how they turned it around. I wasn’t expecting it, and yet it made sense. And here I was, all geared up and waiting for a stereotypical ending.
I love being wrong in that sense.
I don’t know where else to put it, so I’ll mention it here. For one of the cutscenes after obtaining a blast core, Cole returns to Zeke, and they chill out, drink some beer and watch a movie.
Literally. That’s what the cutscene is. It’s great. Most games wouldn’t bother showing it, but I’m glad they chose to do it here. It fit. It allowed you to wind down as Cole did, and displayed the relationship the two had before everything went wrong. It was refreshing.
Aw yiss. The addition of the Amp was excellent. Hitting motherf*ckers with an electric motherf*cker. Driving it home with an awesome cinematic combo, which also replenished all your power? Brilliant. Whoever came up with that, pat yourself on the back. It was one of the little things that made combat so well-designed.
And the powers! You just kept gaining them! They gave you so many fun ways to mess people up, you couldn’t help but take on every side mission, just to whack a few people with some sticky grenades or rockets.
Also, the Ionic Vortex. Ohhh my goodness, yes. Having three of those babies stored up to unleash hell was so damn satisfying. Another note I’d like to point out – during the end of the game, when you’re chasing Ice People through a storm? Boy, did they pick the wrong environment to take on the ‘Electric Man’. Replenishing powers through the storm would’ve been enough, but they also added limitless Ionic Vortex’s.
*sigh*. I enjoyed myself quite a bit in that section. Recommended to play just to get to it.
Another sector usually overlooked by other games. I’m looking at you, Dragon’s Dogma – no fast travel and limited stamina, bah. In Infamous, there are four modes of brilliantly fun transportation.
Grinding/Electric rails – throughout New Marais are powerlines, which create a sort of fast travel high way for Cole. He can also zoom up the side of buildings if they have an electric rail thing (I’ve forgotten the exact name of them, feel free to enlighten me). Both of these come in real handy with the next item on this list.
Static thrusters – I remember these from Infamous 1, but there were a lot more fun in this game. Lots of fun linking grindwires with this move, especially as you’re normally moving at speed. Yes I had a lot of fun with this move.
Rail/Tram lines – Fairly self-explanatory. The rail/tram lines are electrified and therefore Cole’s easiest mode of transportation. My favourite section would have to be in Flood Town, where a ruined train line catapulted you into the air and landed you neatly onto a grindwire. It linked nicely, and I’d often spend hours just travelling around the city.
Lightning Tether – screw Spiderman, you’re Cole MacGrath. This was one of the more clunky modes of transport, but it could get you up on top of buildings in a jiffy, which made chase missions a lot easier. My only wish was that they’d had some sort of auto-aim for the tether itself – it took just a little too long to line up an anchor to get that free travel between buildings – or maybe I just suck at it.
All in all, fun. Very fun. Another note, no fall damage. You can literally climb up some buildings so high it would make Assassin’s Creed, as a franchise, cry. You can see the curvature of the Earth! And then you jump down, sailing through the air and landing harmlessly wherever. Just to add more to it, they gave you a movement that allowed you to blast power out in an explosion when you land. Brilliant.
New Marais is quite obviously based on New Orleans. It’s a vibrant, music-filled metropolis that has suffered some damage in the low lying Bellevue suburb – now called Flood Town. Very interesting to read into when you see some of the graffiti, hint hint.
I also enjoyed the titles of the movies showing at the smut theatres – Call of Booty, Assassin’s Need (Love, too), Hey Low Reach, Ratchet and Skank. I’m ashamed to say it took me longer than I’d like to realise they were pornos.
Reading all the slogans on buildings and trucks made me realise how much thought had been put into developing this city. There’s a series of food trucks in the industrial sector called the Roach Coach. I laughed longer than I should’ve.
Very distinctive, and matched the scenery. They went for cellos, bass and violins, basically all strings, and it definitely suited. At first I was a bit iffy, but as the game progressed, I liked it better and better. During the final fight, I was tearing up as the score composed of the game’s theme, and several reoccurring elements that I hadn’t noticed until then.
All in all, this game did everything right. I’m considering getting a next-gen console PURELY for continuing the Infamous games. The interlacing story scenes, with their comic book style, couldn’t have been done better.
I’m still cut up over the ending. They really went all out on tearing out the heartstrings. In addition to saying goodbye to the open world you’ve been travelling for the past, I dunno, thirty (?) hours, there’s the ending itself (A TEAR FEST), and the credits with their finishing song (are you f*cking kidding me). I sobbed while my cat looked disdainfully at me.
Play this game. Read the article on Wikipedia so you don’t have to endure Infamous 1 and then play this game. Five out of five. Well-earned its spot in the Big 3.