Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Review: Infamous 2

The first infamous has been seen by many to be a great game but with a few flaws. With some great climbing mechanics and a unique style but with some questionable animation in places and a frame rate that would often go into a slide show. This follow up has a pretty hard task of living up to the previous games highs while fixing everything that was wrong with it, and it does a pretty good job of both.

The game starts of shortly after the events of the first game. Electric superman Cole Mcgrath and his best friend Zeke are heading out of Empire City to New Marais along with CIA agent Lucy Kuo. When they get there, they find the city locked off from the outside world and absolutely crawling with mercenaries. To add to this trouble, they find that the entity that was hinted about in the first game known as “the beast”, is heading for New Marais on a mission of destruction.

The game plays rather uniquely. While you have standard movement and camera controls, your electric super powers are assigned to various buttons, and there are many powers available. I don't really want to get into specifics and spoil things, but by the end of the game, you’re spoilt for choice on what to use.

There is a heavy emphasis on climbing and platforming in the game as well. Much a large amount of the game is spent roaming around New Marais, climbing buildings and going from mission to mission. The climbing aspect is done very well and flows nicely, maybe not as well as similar games such as Assassin’s Creed as it can be a little glitchy at times, but it does a very good job. There are also many aspects of climbing that you just don't see in other games, you can speed along tram lines and some of the later powers really help you to get around the City fast.

Much like the climbing, the games combat flows really well. It controls like a third person shooter, by holding the L1 button to bring up your hand and aiming your basic shot. This can then be added to with a force push or a grenade, there are also many more powers that you will discover throughout the game. You can also let go of the L1 and come up close for some melee combat, which manages to feel just right in its animation and feel.

After taking down enemies, you get experience points, which you can spend, on upgrading your powers, but this is only after A) The powers have been made available after a mission and B) You have fulfilled an objective to unlock the power. This objective is normally along the lines of “Kill 10 enemies in the air” something that gets you to do things in combat you might not have done otherwise. After fulfilling this objective, you are allowed to spend your experience points on the new power you want to unlock. This system is really interesting as it makes you look at the combat in a way you might not have thought of before. I actually found myself taking on a tactic in the game that came out of one of these objectives.

The story in the game is told pretty well. Like the first game, some the majority of cut scenes are given this 2D comic book style, which is really unique. The game has a Good/Evil system so there are some missions where you are given a choice between good and evil (what good/evil outcome or side???). This doesn’t really change the story until the end and I must say that it disappoints me that all of the games choices are so clear cut, there are absolutely no shades of grey in what you do, though that could be said for hundreds of games these days.

Both technically and graphically, Infamous 2 makes huge strides over its predecessor. Animation is much cleaner and smoother, especially the facial animation. Textures look much cleaner as well but the biggest improvement is the frame rate. No longer does the action slow down to a limp when more than five or so enemies are on screen, the frame rate manages to stay smooth constantly. In fact, there were many instances where I saw countless enemies fighting each other while the frame rate did not falter at all, very impressive.

The structure of the game is similar to most open world games. You travel from mission to mission in this open city doing side missions and picking up any collectibles that you may come across. There is a lot of content for you to get through too, there are many side missions as well as small collectibles called “blast shards” which increase your power. There are also random activities you can do to become more good or evil such as stopping a mugging as you pass by, to be good, or killing everyone at a protest against those with powers, to be evil. The game really fills itself with activities, almost to its detriment, I felt that I had been playing the game just a little too long before getting to the end, my experience was starting to feel a little stale.

To add to all this content are the user created missions. These missions have been made using the games built in mission creator. Some have been really good, while many just seem very basic and not really worth playing. I think this is a feature that no one will really see the good stuff until a few months from now when people have really got to grips with the tools. It would be interesting to see how people have changed the game through the mission creator.

Infamous 2, like the first, is a great but still flawed game. It makes some great improvements all around but still doesn't feel amazing. Combat can be brilliant but a little glitchy at times with the same going for the climbing and platforming. The game also manages to not only outstay its welcome but disappoint in its ending as well, leaving me wanting more story even though I felt I had played more than enough of the game.


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