Friday, August 1, 2014

The Beast is One Mile from New Marais

The original Infamous was released in the early days of the ps3, and this was evident in the graphical department, yet the game had a lot of verve, and rather polished gameplay, so it comes as no surprise that Infamous 2, presents graphical improvements, both in-game and during cut-scenes. After a showstopper of a prologue, featuring the powerful new enemy, The Beast, the game reveals the changes in the engine; the environment being much more responsive, in other words, you can now destroy things aplenty.

An even greater surprise is the political undercurrent present, as New Marais, where our hero Cole is supposed to get his new powers, is a thinly veiled post-Katrina New Orleans; as we are told through motion-comics, Cole had been there before practicing urban exploration, or parkour, during the disaster, and during this episode it is highlighted that the police were less than useful, in a place turned lawless. In fact, an area in New Marais' map, is actually called Flood Town; I doubt you can see people struggling to walk in waist-high water in other games. Now, the citizens of New Marais have employed a militia, of rednecks, as Cole puts it, to guard them against so-called deviants; powerful conduits such as Cole himself.

The greatest addition, is being able to work with other conduits similar to Cole; such as Kuo, the good girl, and Nix, the evil one; who are basically shoulder angels. These companions come in handy while fighting the beastly Ravagers. Melee combat has been greatly improved, with the introduction of The Amp, a weapon built by our hero's pal, Zeke, which is sort of an oversized metallic cattle prod, which Cole can swing at his enemies, often resulting in finishing moves. This becomes useful when going one-on-one against other conduits, such as the Corrupted, mutated citizens connected to the Big Bad; Bertrand. After all, as in the first game, the story's backdrop is constituted by a web of espionage and intrigue, with characters from different spy agencies, all salivating over the power of conduits.
The Infamous titles seem to always excel in the music department, and this proves to be true once again, with the delivery of another stupendous soundtrack. Contrary to what occurred with The Darkness II, in which they downtraded the main voice actor, Infamous 2 benefits from Cole's new voice, as it displays more pathos. The karma system doesn't break any new ground, it acts more like an excuse for a second playthrough, in which you may choose the path opposite from your original one. However, it dawned on me that, the moral system manifests itself more effectively in the little details; if you play as a hero, you are rewarded by cheering crowds, whereas, if you choose the evil path, citizens nearly hurl stones at you. There is even distinct good and evil music.
There are some memorable gaming moments found in Infamous 2; such a Godzilla-inspired section, and a turret mission with a twist; using a powerful UV light beam to ward off an attack of the Corrupted. As well, since there are areas constituted mainly of swamps, Cole has to be watchful of not getting electrocuted in the water, for instance, while being knocked over with force by a Ravager. This watery scenario can lead to the hilariously-named trophy, aptly titled "I'm As Shocked As You Are." Ultimately, what makes the series so enthralling, are the engaging sci-fi concepts, intermingled with the more grounded element of the friendship between two men, and its evolution.
New Marais is one of the best-crafted, most accomplished game cities on the ps3, with attention payed to the littlest details. The train tracks from the original have been replaced, in this outing, by trolley lines which you can grind on. Also this time around, the news reports made popular in the first game, appear in the corner of the screen, picture-in-picture. There is User-Generated-Content; admittedly, a great concept, and it adds longevity to the game. For this author, Infamous 2 is part of one of the most exciting sci-fi franchises released as of late; with continued expansion in gaming's Gen 8.