I wondered if not playing the original inFamous would be a hindrance in reviewing this game, but I am happy to say that was not the case. The game alas does start with an interactive flashback to the end of the first game where you re-enact the end battle between our hero Cole and the Beast. After the near cataclysmic conclusion, time then moves on. Maybe our hero and his sidekick will get some peace and quiet? Yeah right...
No the Beast is far from down and out, and is slowly but surely making it's way down the east coast to where our heroes are hoping to just melt into the background and grab some needed rest and relaxation. They know it's a matter of time before Cole's past catches up too him, but then another matter raises its ugly head. Now the fictional city of Las Marias is under siege by an insurgent force that are taking prisoners, and basically oppressing the populace. If only there was someone who could help overthrow them, someone say, with super powers. Anybody with the name Cole and with little else to do, please take a step forward!
The stage is set, let the liberation of Las Marias begin! But just keep a wary eye open for the shadow of the Beast, for every hour that passes, that monster is getting closer and closer, and is just itching for a scrap.
Now the plot has kind of been covered, we can get down to the nitty gritty and take a deeper delve into the game and how it plays itself. First thing to note is that Cole is armed with a melee weapon that resembles the top end of one of those power cable poles you see at roadsides. This deals a meaty amount of electrical based damage to say the least. You'll soon see first hand what it can do as you start wading into the insurgent forces on the outskirts of Las Marias. You may be super powered and packed with enough electrical power to light up a small town, but be aware, Superman you are not. Cole is far from bullet proof and a rocket or a grenade will certainly do more than make your ears ring! Also bear in mind that being powered by electricity means that avoiding water is a darned good idea. Be patient, time your advance and attacks and learn to dodge and do not be afraid to back off, and you should be fine. You'll soon learn that this is not just about wading your way through enemies either, your electrical power can heal the wounded so keep your eyes open for the chance to do so, if you want to that is!
You'll also learn that once you jump, with a push of the R1 button, you can emit pulses that grant you the power to fly. OK at the start it's limited, but with time you'll be able to go higher and further as your energy level increases. The energy available to you is marked by an icon in the top left corner of the screen, which is next to a curved icon that represents your health and marks the choices you have made, but I'll cover that later. The energy icon is shown as a lightning bolt that depletes as you use the powers at your disposal and it can be recharged by absorbing the energy from any local power source, such as street lights and generators. Absorption of the power is activated by standing close too the unit and pressing the L2 button. Recovering health is a different matter, a downed opponent can be targeted and then grappled. Pressing the square button rapidly initiates a struggle with the foe. Winning the struggle, means you will be able to absorb electricity from the target and basically replenish your health. If in combat and taking damage, then the by now fairly standard method of taking cover and waiting will restore lost health. You can also fire energy bolts from cover, in a fire from cover mode as used in Gears of War.
Cole is also an agile devil and can climb most buildings with ease. Whilst not clinging to walls like Spider-Man, he can display an agility that rivals the heroic climbing skills of the star of Assassin's Creed or Nathan Drake. Indeed climbing the highest buildings, gives you an impressive view of the city below you, and like Altair you can leap into the ether, and in a controlled descent can land on your feet in an impressive display of power. Unlike Assassin's Creed there is no hay wagon to land on however. You'll land Hulk like, and leave a crater behind you as well as create a shockwave in your wake. Impressive but hardly subtle, but heck who cares!
Cole is a powerful man indeed, just remember he is not impervious to harm and can be taken down quite easily if you don't think before engaging a large group of foes.
CONTROLS: Controls are responsive indeed, and at times maybe a little too responsive. It's easy whilst in combat to accidentally tap a button, causing you to jump and cling to a nearby lamp post, or onto a fence, railing or something similar, when you want to be engaging the enemy in hand to hand combat. This will leave you very vulnerable to any firearms being aimed at you so bear this in mind. Otherwise if you have the chance, get close, lock on with the R1 button and press the X button to lay in some electricity charged pain. Once you unleash a melee attack, you will see a prompt to press the triangle button. This will deliver a punishing finishing move, which can be upgraded as you progress through the game.
On the plus side, climbing tall buildings is instinctive and not a pain in the butt at all. You can also line yourself up with the directional pad and with a tap of the X button, you can be 'surfing' the power cables between the buildings. Wider distances can be covered by flying as mentioned earlier. Cole responds well to the controls and movement is swift and very very smooth.
PHYSICS: Objects react to being hit as you would expect them too. Glass shatters very realistically, and explosions look very dramatic as well. Cole's lightning based attacks radiate light as the bolts fly, and residual sparks can be seen tracing their way along certain objects like cables, etc. The crowd will either ooh and ahh in admiration, or run away in fright. They will react if you barge through a crowd, either getting bowled over or moving out of the way. The citizens of the city are far from static and unresponsive to you, they react well and if you leave an insurgent shackled on the street, they will kick the trapped man, spit on him or hurl insults.
GRAPHICS: These give you the feeling of an interactive comic book. Bright and colourful and more than adequate. Neon signs give off an aura, building surfaces and textures look pretty darned realistic. Although not as detailed as say Red Dead Redemption or L.A. Noire, they are certainly nicely detailed. Water effects are OK, but as you want to avoid contact with water then you won't be admiring this detail that much! It's hard to report on what things look like at night because it seems that time does not mark a day/night cycle ar all. This just strikes me as being a little odd seeing as how other games mark the passage of time. If someone says hey yes it does, then I'll be the first to put my hands up and say sorry.
On the whole this is very easy on the eye indeed and I rate the graphics on this game highly. Animation is smooth and there are no problems with drop out or frame rate even when the action gets hectic.
GAME PLAY: On the whole this is a very instinctive affair indeed. There is a tutorial section, but it seems to think that if you have played inFamous 1 then you'll be fine. This is not a criticism at all. You don't have to have played the original at all as it's style is similar to other games out there. It plays like a mixture of The Saboteur, Assassin's Creed, and with the moral choices presented too you, it reminds me of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed or Fable. This again is no criticism, as indeed most games openly take inspiration from other titles. The more merciful you are, the people will like you and needless to say if you act like a villain, which you can do, there are 'good' and 'evil' missions, then expect the police to come after you as well as the insurgents. I will quickly add that the insurgent forces remind me of the anti T-Zero forces in Urban Chaos. (Hands up those that remember that one!) Also try and get into a city zone you have not unlocked and a helicopter will be at hand to make your life miserable! Be patient and the city will be opened up to you.
How you walk the line between dark and light is up too you, so if you are like me, you may want to go through it first time, being neutral, then the next a goody two shoes or as a complete you-know-what. It's up too you!
As you progress you'll gain XP points and new powers. Now at the moment it seems too me that it's a very much grab you by the nose and guide you towards your next power upgrade. I hope that as it progresses you have a little more freedom to be flexible as to what powers and upgrades you can buy with your hard earned XP. Keep your eyes open for side missions, some of which have been created by the players. Those that have been designed by sucker punch can be tricky to say the least, but some of the player created missions are as hard as nails so be warned!
I also found the mission creator tricky and could not get my head around it. I think I'll have a look online for a walkthrough or a guide as to how to use this function. But with the wealth of user created missions out there, the games longevity has been extended by some degree. Let's hope that this is a factor that keeps going.
PRO'S: Instinctive gameplay and a large environment to explore. Lots to do with side quests, and keep an eye open for power shards that are hidden throughout the city that will add to the power supply needed to fuel your powers. An interesting side game (if that's the right word) which means you can find carrier pigeons that with a small shock, will drop too the ground. These carrier pigeons have vocal messages that provide background details to the story. You can access these at any time and play them back at leisure. And there is the downloadable player/developer content to extend the game's life.
CONS: Like I said earlier, it is easy to grab a side of a building or some other structure whilst in a battle and that leaves you exposed to damage, so be careful when engaging a group of enemies. There is a lack of co-operative game play here, which is a shame. Cole has a normal sidekick, but an opportunity was lost here I feel. Surely we could have had his friend, armed with a side arm backing up his partner in battle? Either A.I. controlled or with the option of him being used in a co-op mode by another player. Maybe for inFamous 3 if there is going to be one?
THE SUMMARY: This is a cracking game and not one you are going to finish in a single afternoon not by a long shot. The moral choices and mix of powers mean that you can replay the game using a different 'recipe' once past the tutorial section so the replay value is there for sure. It's made me want to download the original game as part of the welcome back package to the PSN Network when it came back online. I shall be playing that soon and aim to finish that so I can bridge the gap between one and two and then see the whole story in it's entirety, that's when I am not playing inFamous 2!
No game is perfect, that's the truth. Even a hot favourite like L.A Noire has it's little faults but I am still going to say this is a great game that will engage the player and drive him/her on to get the game completed and with the DLC and side quests, there's more than enough here to drive away boredom. No multi-player or co-operative play is a let down but I am willing to overlook that. inFamous 2 is a great deal of super powered fun, set in a large playground that although not as big as Just Cause 2 will keep you coming back for more. In more ways than one, this is an electrifying game, I recommend this one highly.