By Joshua OstroffAs a lifelong comic book fan, I resent origin stories. Every superhero needs one, fine, but these starter tales get repeated ad nauseam to explain the status quo to newbies. Superhero adaptations, from X-Men to Superman to The Dark Knight, tend to do better as sequels.
As an original IP, Infamous had no choice but to make the first game about how bike courier Cole McGrath came to control electricity. But with that narrative heavy-lifting out of the way, Infamous 2 can get down to business.
Yes, the build-up-your-powers progress process is brought back as you try to become ever more electrical in advance of the Big Bad, a monstrous creature called the Beast that was revealed in the original's cliff-hanger ending. It also explained that the first game's super-villain was actually Cole from the future trying to get his past self strong enough to fight the Beast.
As we begin, said Beast is destroying the original game's home base of Empire City and soon sets after a retreating Cole, en route to the sequel's New Orleans-inspired setting of New Marais, a fantastic new sandbox to whoosh about in, both because of its historic French Quarter gorgeousness and its flooded, Katrina-inspired ravages. (The Beast is a stressful, slowly impending threat, much as the real-world hurricane and oil spill were – real-world references like the first game's post-9/11 terrorist attack in the heart of Empire City.)
The Louisiana town has been taken over by fascist thugs trying to restore law and order by going after the freaks – like you. The story does get a little convoluted – okay, a lot convoluted – but has enough voltage to keep it moving.
Infamous 2 retains the karma system, allowing your moral choices to make you famous or, y'know –being bad is most rewarding when you get to zap hippie street performers, but either way works fine. Just don't be middling – nobody likes a wishy-washy hero or anti-hero.
The new treat on offer sees Sony takings a page from its LittleBigPlanet and allowing gamers to create user-generated side-missions, which dramatically increase the open world's depth and the game's length. It's a game design decision that, if it works well here, could one day become standard and help sandbox games live up to the genre name.
Putting it in the game's parlance, Infamous 2 is a real blast. (Sony/Sucker Punch)