Developer: Sucker Punch
by: Jason "Origami Panther" Love
Comics and action movies once had that one moment in the course of events when the hero would leap from a ledge/building/helicopter to a different ledge/building/helicopter. It would be a tense moment where you’d wonder whether the hero would make it or fall, but, of course, the hero made the jump and went on to beat the bad guy/save the world/escape from rockets. This became such an iconic technique that it was parodied and, eventually, replaced by the hero missing the leap. inFamous 2 - like its predecessor - takes many of its cues from those comics and action movies, quite successfully in many cases; yet does it make the metaphorical leap, or does it fall spectacularly to the ground below?
Compared to the original inFamous, inFamous 2 has made the kind of improvements you want to see in a sequel – or any action game, for that matter. Our hero, Cole McGrath, can get around the new setting of New Marais a lot easier thanks to vertical launch pipes; an enhancement to your static thruster ability that allows you to float farther and longer; and a later ability that allows you to grapple from building to building like some kind of web-slinging guy. The other powers have also gone through an overhaul to make you feel more like a super-powered individual, like being able to pick up and hurl objects at your foes. There really is nothing more satisfying than when you hurl a car at a helicopter and watch it explode. Of course, with great power comes great moral decisions, and this is where the game turns.
Cole is faced with a number of choices throughout the game about which path – light or dark – to choose, each of which is championed by two of the game’s protagonists and their own super powers. Choose the path of good and Cole gains access to complimentary ice abilities that focus more on halting foes instead of stopping them dead, while the path of dark leads to pure fire-based destruction. Both sets of abilities are well executed and introduce some interesting game changes, but the decisions that lead you to them are where the flaws start to appear. Some of the decisions fit in with the overall story arc, which sees Cole preparing to face a powerful entity known as the Beast and what he’s willing to do to get there, but the rest are questionable. For a character focused on defeating the Beast and saving the world, why would he just randomly decide to beat up on some police officers or innocent street performers? How does this help him at all? In the end, inFamous 2’s greatest downfall is that its characters are still flawed and rarely come off as little more than one-dimensional caricatures of action stereotypes.
So, does inFamous 2 make it to the ledge, or does it plummet? From my viewpoint, the game is hanging on with one hand and is starting to pull itself up. From others, though, it could be argued that it’s slipping…