Long before Sucker Punch’s flagship superhero franchise fell off a cliff thanks to Infamous Second Son then somewhat saved itself with stand-alone prequel Infamous First Light, the PlayStation nation were treated to one of the best open world follow-ups ever released in Infamous 2 on the PS3. A direct continuation of Cole McGrath’s blight first established then so gracefully teased at the end of the first game, Infamous 2 improved upon the series in almost every way. In terms of setting, combat, and story, and more.
Ever since the days of Spiderman 2’s tie-in licensed game, gamers had been hankering for a comic book hero-inspired game to help scratch that same itch. Releases such as the first Crackdown, Prototype, and of course Infamous all chose to capitalise on this untapped hunger, but where the sequels to the two aforementioned franchises failed to reach the heights of their predecessor, Infamous 2 was one of the few that didn’t disappoint.
Let it be said before going more in depth – I am an absolute sucker (no pun intended) for time travel. Both in movies, books, and games, the idea of having events within a timeline inform and maybe even fold in upon themselves is something which I find absolutely tantalising. So, when at the end of the original Infamous – Spoiler Alert – the main antagonist of Kessler is in fact an alternate future version of you, my mouth was agape.
By then end of Infamous it’s revealed that all this time you’d been training and preparing yourself for the onset of a terrifying beast set to arrive in the near future, intent on destroying humans so as to allow the superhuman population known as “conduits” to thrive and take over. How much more earth-shattering does it get? One of the most memorable video game cliff-hangers in recent years without question, for me, Infamous is the perfect example of a game that just6 leaves you wanting more.
Roughly 2 years later we eventually did, and Infamous 2 opens in appropriately bombastic fashion. It’s safe to say that Sucker Punch doesn’t keep players waiting, with the fabled “beast” arriving almost immediately and thrusting players to push Cole into a battle he simply cannot win. Beat down, distraught, and to some extent a little embarrassed, this initial cataclysmic event sets players on a path to power up Cole as much as possible, re-locating to a beautifully released New Orleans knock off in order to do so.
Open world games of late have made a point of dubbing themselves as an “adventure playground” of sorts, signifying their assumption that players would ideally like to go everywhere and anywhere right from the get go. Infamous 2 is instead a lot more focussed. Rather than serving up an unnecessarily sprawling world without much to do or see, the city of New Marais is focussed, distinct, and provides all the foundations required to become somewhat of a character in itself.
Infamous 2 knew that its biggest strength wasn’t in the number of things you could do in the world, but rather the impact your powers and actions could have on it alongside one of the last generation’s genuinely greatest open world narratives. Clear out the bayou area of the map of mutants and they’ll never return in such force again, opt to be a villain rather than a hero and NPCs won’t take too kindly to you upon arrival. Infamous 2 is filled with so many of these little intricacies and subtle details that when taken as a whole, add up to an experience in which your activities have meaning.
This was something initially seeded in the original game, but while Sucker Punch was using around 30% of the PS3’s cell processor by the end of Infamous’ development, and for Infamous 2, they were edging over 50 and 60%. This resulted in more detailed locations, mildly better textures, but truly let the game’s karma system flourish the more you chose to be good or bad. If the game has any flaws it’s that this particularly binary approach didn’t reward those who chose to settle in the grey area of morality. Instead pushing you to simple go one way or the other.
For what it’s worth, Infamous 2’s story is one that is well worth experiencing more than once. A claim backed up by the fact that a run can be 100% completed in just under 20 hours at a fair pace, so jumping back in to wield an entire second set of awesome-injected superpowers never felt like a chore. The introduction of a brutal handheld weapon known as the “Amp” helped beef up melee combat to improve it tenfold when compared to that of the previous game, catering for players who prefer the up close and personal approach.
Infamous 2 is an open world journey well worth taking if you haven’t already. Whether it’s via dusting off your faithful PS3 or PlayStation’s somewhat janky PS Now service, if you liked Second Son’s silky smooth gameplay and powers but were underwhelmed by the campaign, take a step back into the shoes of gravelly voice Cole McGrath. It’s open world epicness on a smaller scale that’s more fulfilling than most.