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Infamous 2 - Playstation 3Infamous 2 (Playstation 3)

Infamous 2 is a solid sequel to the original that refines some of the first gameís flaws, enhances the combat system, adding some new abilities for the player to use plus adds user-created content. It follows most of the conventions of the first game with its charging and using this energy to attack opponents. Its mission progression is linear but you have the choice to go down the good or evil path, and this has significant effects on the storyline. Infamous 2 is mostly fun during it city missions, but it also puts on quite a show with some truly intense boss battles. It definitely a more polished title this time around. Its impressive new weapons, physics abilities and improved combat system are the main reasons this sequel remains an electrifying experience.

Sucker Punch got their start with the famous Sly Cooper series, but made a major diversion into more serious territory with the release of Infamous several years back. The game cast players as the role of Cole, a normal guy whoís been transformed by a bizarre accident into a hero with super-powers. He could literally shoot lightning and electricity out of his hands and the game was a success with its sandbox approach mixed with outlandish physics. Now, the developers have come out with a second installment that should please gamers who enjoyed the first game. Itís been improved and tweaked in a number of key areas, notably its combat system. One of the first changes the game shows is the main charactersí new close range weapon, a kind of electric sword that he can use to swing at enemies nearby. Instead of merely firing balls at them, it helps to keep the players more closely in tuned to the action, making Infamous 2 a much more visceral and exciting experience on this front. Coleís ranged attacks also seem more accurate this time around, and his abilities can be enhanced as the game goes along. One of the cooler new things he can do is pick up and throw large objects, such as cars at opponents which can create a massive amount of damage. It adds a new layer of strategy to the proceedings and makes Infamous two feel a bit more fantastical than the first game. However, the gritty city streets and their cynical denizens help to keep the atmospherics somewhat grounded in reality. The overall impression is one of continuity. Infamous 2 isnít a dramatic departure from the first game and has a very similar look and feel. The changes made arenít that massive, but are just enough to keep things fresh.

While Infamous 2 gives the player massive powers, they have limits which helps to keep things interesting. As in the previous games, he has a limited amount of energy on each charge and must find new sources of energy, which can include everything from light-posts to generators and more. You can find some of these nearby by pressing down on the right analog controller, which then makes any nearby power-sources flash. This is quite helpful since heíll need to be aware of these recharging stations for emergencies. Once heís spotted by the enemy militia forces, or the evil Beastís minions, heíll quickly come under attack. Heís definitely high on the hit-list of  the Militia, a group of vigilantes terrorizing the city. They fire at him relentlessly and usually attack in groups. When he takes a lot of damage, he can hide behind an object or run out of range, where he can regroup his strength. This helps in some situations, but there are some points that are basically ambushes, leading to a quick death. Fortunately, there are frequent respawn points which help to minimize backtracking. Infamous 2ís overall pacing is fairly good and the missions are usually straightforward in their objectives and construction. The city layout is fairly easy to navigate, though there are some moments where camera issues hinder your progress. This is especially true when enemies are firing at you while their location is a bit murky, which can be frustrating at first. Once you get a handle on the gameís somewhat quirky approach, this gets a little bit better. Using the lock-on feature is also beneficial when confronting enemies, and goes a long way in helping the player concentrate their fire. Another key element that should aid your progress are the electric wires that connect the city. Getting on the wires allows you to glide at a much faster pace, and go through the gaps between buildings that you wouldnít ordinarily be able to jump over. This also has the added benefit of making your travels between mission objectives much quicker, making Infamous 2ís pacing and storyline go much faster.  

Infamous 2 _ PS3 _ Screen ShotOne of the more interesting aspects of the game comes when he downs an opponent, who is momentarily paralyzed. He can choose to either finish them off or take them into custody with electric restraints. This can change his overall good to evil ratio, which changes with his actions. Its also affected by the number of civilians he hurts, purposely or not when heís in combat. This makes the game more interesting than it could have, and leads to branching elements not seen in most action titles. You can take either approach, and a single action in either direction usually wonít change the overall trajectory of the storyline. The game is relatively open ended and players can explore the city as they wish, though objective markers appear on the map to alert you to the next major mission. Along the way, you can also complete side-missions, such as helping civilians, which donít affect the main storyline but can increase you score in either direction. Most of the game has you walking on foot through the streets of New Madras, but you can also jump onto the sides of buildings and climb them, jumping onto rooftops to confront snipers and find hidden objects. One of the contiguous tasks Cole has during the game is to find the shattered pieces of a reactor that will help him to earn new powers. These are scattered throughout the city and slowly add to you abilities as you find them. Once heís fully charged his abilities, Cole can also perform other tasks. When he comes across a fallen civilian, he can choose to revive them, which helps his standing among the community, which is a cool feature. He can also use his powers for evil, though his destructive tendencies will encourage the wrath of the civilian populations. Signaling your path early on helps to build a personality to the game, and adds cohesion to its storyline, which makes for a much better experience overall.

These improvements array themselves throughout the game and while they seem minor in isolation, taken together they make for a much more impressive and polished experience. While the pacing and direction of the first game could feel a little bit disjointed at times, Infamous 2 flows much better between action and storyline, and missions feel much more coherent. The production values have gone up a few notches as well, with a more cinematic feel enhanced by better voice acting and deeper storyline. The characters are relatively appealing and you can see the main characterís motivations appear gradually depending on which path you choose. There are a few minor problems however. Its combat sequences with the militia arenít nearly as frustrating as they were in the first game, but they still feel a bit too random. An improved combat system helps a lot, but its still not as smooth as youíd like it to be in certain situations. It can be difficult to see where shots are coming from, which can be particularly annoying when multiple opponents are attacking you. There a loads of missions, but many of them are tedious and it quickly gets a little monotonous doing the same search tasks and battles again and again. However, the main story moves at a decent pace and most players should be able to progress through the game without much of a problem. Infamous 2 doesnít stray too far from the first gameís successful mix of action and exploration, itís improvements are quite noticeable and make for a better experience overall. Itís feels a little bit more challenging than the first game and the more elaborate mission structure gives it more depth, which branching missions that enhance its replay value. Sucker Punch hasnít had to recharge the game completely, but its definitely given the game a jolt with its many additions, making for a solid recommendation that should please PS3 owners.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B+

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