Sucker Punch’s sophomore story arc is undeniably electric
All things considered, Cole MacGrath is a guy who knows how to roll with the punches. The plucky protagonist of Infamous fame has little time to rest and reflect on the salvation of Empire City, as the open-world sequel to the 2009 superhero sojourn finds our boy thrust into an epic battle with the Beast, the formidable foretold foe bent on the destruction of mankind.
Despite his best efforts, the Beast proves to be a bit much for MacGrath, who must subsequently make his way to the fictitious city of New Marais to enhance his electric abilities in an effort to save the States from certain destruction. It’s one hell of an opening, to be certain, but can Sucker Punch avoid the sophomore slump and deliver a stunning effort in their latest superhero sandbox? Let’s take a look.
For starters, it’s evident that the team took no shortcuts in developing the world of Infamous 2. A polished, incredibly stylized realization of a Southern city under siege, New Marais gives Cole the luxury of navigating a beautifully realized NOLA-style metropolis that offers up countless opportunities for impromptu heroics. Side missions, random conflict, and the quest for blast shards keeps Cole on his toes—and what’s more, Sucker Punch does a bang-up job of infusing variety across neighborhoods as the story progresses, with each posing its own set of logistical and navigational challenges. Even in the absence of backtracking, there’s just so much to see and do in New Marais that I couldn’t help but be impressed.
In the same sense, the difficulty ramp represents a major improvement over its predecessor. Infamous took its fair share of lumps for pacing issues due to a late-breaking difficulty ramp that, while finishing strong, often left players feeling like the meat of the game was a bit of an afterthought; Infamous 2 manages to dial in the sense of progressive empowerment that makes New Marais’ host of deviants a joy to encounter. The more side missions and achievements you conquer, the more powerful you’ll become, meaning that each new enemy presents a formidable-yet-feasible learning curve for Cole. Sucker Punch also does a great job of pumping up his powers as you go: You’ll start off struggling with basic enemies, but before all’s said and done, you’ll find yourself unlocking the awesome in a way that makes Cole’s potential feel limitless, granting you a real sense of empowerment rarely rivaled in modern gaming.
The story naturally follows suit, with the series’ trademark struggle between good and evil firmly entrenched in the plotline. Beyond basic decisions, such as foiled muggings and your relationship with local law enforcement, one of the game’s core storylines revolves around an intriguing love triangle that has lasting implications on the game’s artfully integrated plot. I won’t spoil too much here, but the twists and turns open up a host of replay value that, when coupled with the game’s robust toolset for user-generated content, really give this game a lot of staying power.
My only real knocks on the game stem from typical problems in the open-world arena, including event-driven triggers that often cancel out game mechanics (such as the inability to disable turrets) and a sticky collision system that often forces Cole to cling to surfaces when I simply wanted to drop to the city streets. This lack of polish isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a definite black mark on an otherwise superlative experience.
That said, Infamous 2 is one of my favorite open-world adventures to date, and credit is due to the folks at Sucker Punch for avoiding the sophomore slump while delivering an immensely playable tale of salvation and discovery that should not be missed. If you’re a fan of the original, a fan of comic-book lore, or an open-world junkie on the hunt for the Next Big Thing, be sure to give this one a shot—it will not disappoint.
SUMMARY: Infamous 2 is one of my favorite open-world adventures to date, and credit is due to the folks at Sucker Punch for avoiding the sophomore slump while delivering an immensely playable tale of salvation and discovery that should not be missed.
- THE GOOD: Amazing aesthetics, solid story, and improved player progression
- THE BAD: Sticky collision and occasionally suspect scripting
- THE UGLY: A hero’s work is never done