Infamous 2 is an open world action adventure “slightly less edgy 2000s superhero simulator” developed by Sucker Punch Studios as a sequel to their 2009 hit Infamous, as well as a Playstation 3 exclusive. Dev time for the game had gone relatively smooth for the most part on the sequel, technology had been implemented more for cutscenes, more people on screen and a mission creator while the devs focused on a new sunny setting compared to Empire City of the first game: New Marais. Honestly trying to comb through for dev history feels kind of pointless as everything seemed to have gone pretty smoothly and normally, so If I find anything cool research wise I’ll make sure to put it in the links below. However, I remember this game fondly, I could even say more so than the first Infamous; if the first one was the one that introduced me to the PS3, then this game was one of the games that made me want to get it, end of discussion.
I remember seeing this game everywhere and getting hyped for everything it had to offer from Karma playthroughs, to transfer game rewards to my most excited and hyped feature: UGC Missions. I remember as a kid I would scour through Youtube finding playthroughs of all the UGC missions amongst other things and just being excited to potentially create my own story missions and stuff. Alas however, budgets killed the hope of ever getting a PS3 until a little while after my first job. What I can say about this game is if I remember correctly, looking back on my Trophy Log I started playing this after the first game (which was my first PS3 game ever), and I think I was in the middle of hopping in between this and Yakuza 3? I would have to go about and check to see what’s true and what’s not in that regard but I’m pretty sure that was the timeline. I played this game first as a continuation of the good playthrough before years would pass. I would be attached to other games, new communities, and waiting for the right moment before I decided I wanted to beat the original two on Evil playthroughs. That came true when I decided to just do the first one early in June/July before I went on a trip to the UK and Infamous 2 started right around the time I had gotten back. Having just platinumed the game last weekend, I figured I’d write a review on why this game is one of my personal favorite PS3 exclusives of all time.
The plot is as follows: a bit of time after the events of the first Infamous, Cole and Zeke meetup with an NSA agent named Lucy Kuo in Empire City. Lucy reveals information that one Dr. Sebastian Wolfe, the man who created the Ray Sphere, can help him fight The Beast with another invention he’s come up with. For those who don’t remember, at the end of the first game, Kessler reveals to Cole that he’s been put through these trials specifically to fight The Beast, a seemingly unstoppable harbinger of doom that’s destined to become a reality and cause the fall of humanity. However, before Cole & the Gang can Jungle Boogie the fuck out of there, The Beast starts his roaring rampage in Empire and in a guided tutorial of Cole’s abilities, a fight commences which results in The Beast being pushed back (but destroying the old city) but with Cole drained of the majority of his powers.
Later arriving in New Marais, shit has already erupted within itself. New Marais is being held hostage by Joseph Bertrand, the leader of a fascist militia (creatively named The Militia) who currently quarantined the city under martial law and established an anti-conduit regime. They raid Wolfe’s lab, which results in the discovery of the RFI (or the Ray Field Inhibitor), which is only able to be powered using Blast Cores. However, Wolfe is kidnapped by this militia after the lab is blown up (with blast shards lying everywhere); and after finding leads to his location, a breakout results in Wolfe later being killed and Kuo being kidnapped instead. Searching for leads on Kuo’s locations results in a multitude of characters being introduced: Laroche, who is the leader of the rebellion going against Betrand and Nix, a conduit whose personality revolves around destruction and chaos whose powers include black napalm sludge (reminding me a lot of Sasha from the first game in the process). This is where the beginning of the Karma System really comes into play: Kuo is considered the Good Path who preaches options that limit casualties, while Nix is more on the line of chaos and destruction. The first big choice is presented: Gather the rebels to raid the Plantation where Kuo is being held prisoner, or follow Nix’s option where she straps bombs to a trolley and sends it rolling into the plantation, but the results mean that civilians die.
Whatever route you take, you break Lucy Kuo out of the prison but as a result, a bunch of Ice people also break out of this prison as well. To be encountered later, not only does Cole help Lucy to control her powers but goes out to the swamps with Nix to learn her backstory: Bertrand gathered a Ray Sphere built by Wolfe (both members of the First Sons at this point) and sacrificed a lot of people to give himself superpowers, leading to Nix taking the path she has over the fact that her family died. Either way, you work with both of them to destroy the Milita’s grip over the city, culminating in a raid on Fort Philippe (another karma moment) which can have Cole exchanging powers using a giant machine with either Nix or Kuo. Either way, whoever you choose will further alienate the other side but gives Cole some extra powers either involving Ice or Napalm depending on Karma. Another attempt to take down Bertrand leads to the reveal of his superpowers: he’s the leader of the army of mutants you’ve been taking down as well. His plans involve terrorizing the people with these mutants to have them support Betrand and the Militia.
Attempts to find Betrand in the northern districts leads to fights with the Ice people, which turn out to be Vermak 88, a group of South African mercenaries hired by Betrand and given ice powers after being experimented on. The process has led to them all going insane, and as a result a war is led on everyone in their vicinity. Along the way, bonds grow stronger or break depending on the Karma, but a near trap by Betrand and Zeke’s intervention/saving you leads to Cole apologizing and forgiving Zeke for his actions in the first game. This has been sorta semi-hinted throughout, but for those unaware of the first game’s plot, this title does a pretty good job and keeps spoilers to an absolute minimum other than The Beast. Regardless, one last ambush against Betrand (the reveal being he used the mutants and is trying to ship conduits all over the world to incite a genocide against them after being disgusted with himself) leads to a giant monster chase and everyone banding together to take him down once and for all. A bunch of men, multiple hours and seven chainsaws later, Betrand’s mutated corpse is cut up and taken off the streets while The Militia are weakened heavily.
Other subplots go on as well, such as Zeke’s infection (along with Laroche I think?) with The Plague, spreading due to Cole’s activation of the Ray Sphere in the first game as well as the gathering of new blast cores leading to Cole obtaining new powers with each one. However (in an actual cool way of displaying The Beast’s inevitable arrival), the Beast starts out 1,500 miles back in Empire City and has been slowly making his way down while Cole & the Gang try to find their Blast Cores to power up the RFI. Slowly over time, The Beast makes his way down before you’re able to find them all and Zeke in a sort of ingenious display of intellect and balls, decides to just nuke the fucker. Does it work? Well, sort of? They nuke The Beast right while they’re outside of the city, but are unable to fully take him down as he only disappears and reforms later on. Cole later raids Betrand’s ships to sink them before conduits are able to be shipped out to warring nations all over the world when John from Empire City appears in a red suit. Now people in the know, know that John died when Cole either destroyed or activated the Ray Sphere back towards the end of the last game. So how is he alive? He doesn’t explain yet, but it’s clear to most of us that he’s probably The Beast. After leading Cole to a conduit dying of the Plague, and saving her life, The Beast’s motivations are revealed. The Beast has been trying to save everyone from the Plague activated from Ray Sphere radiation, but he’s only able to activate conduit genes inside of certain people to grant immunity. Each time it’s used however (if I remember correctly), “normal” people die to power up these conduits, and so John’s argument is to sacrifice most to save the chosen few.
Cole gets all of the blast cores and gathers the RFI to learn the truth of what the Ray Field Inhibitor really does. Going with the “Inhibitor” name, it ends up nearly killing the conduits as its point is to kill the Beast by sapping away its powers. However in the process, it’ll basically kill all of the conduits on Earth. So the choice is now, save a few and sacrifice the majority or the other way around? What happens depends on your ultimate choice, and surprisingly your karma doesn’t really matter here sadly. You can kind of flip flop if you want to, be good but ultimately choose evil or vice versa. Regardless, whichever one you go with leads to untimely consequences and a twist.
The twist being that the one who'd normally side with will flip: If you choose the Evil Approach and work with The Beast to save the conduits but kill humanity, Kuo will join up out of being afraid to die while Nix and Zeke defect to join the Rebels. This happened because The Beast killed Nix’s “Babies” (a bunch of mutants who she trained to be her family) and just wants revenge. The results involve everyone dying, with Nix being slain by Cole and his amp; while Zeke is zapped repeatedly over and over again in a way that to me, signifies how brutal and far gone Cole has become, having murdered his best friend and being unable to turn back. However, John is tired of his conquest now, and doing what he thinks is right, transfers all of his powers to Cole while John fades into oblivion. The ending results in humanity being on the brink of extinction, Cole becoming The Beast and making his way from place to place, bringing chaos while also saving any and all conduits he finds.
The good ending is the canonical and opposite approach however: everyone gathers together from the Militia and Rebellion, to Nix and Zeke to fight against The Beast while Kuo defects and disappears. However, everyone almost dies here, including Nix who sacrifices herself to damage The Beast while Cole charges the RFI. Cole finally activates it and the results are that everyone perishes except Zeke; while humanity is saved, conduits all around the world are dying. Even people in different countries who haven’t even activated their powers perish but the Plague disappears and Cole’s heroism is rewarded by a monument and title of “The Patron Saint of New Marais”. However, when Zeke takes Cole’s body out to sea for burial, a piece of lightning strikes, forming a question mark over the ship as it fades to black.
My feelings on the game’s plot is that while the Karma System feels ultimately shallow in the end, that it’s a pretty solid way to end the Infamous duology with the themes. If Infamous 1 was the origin story, the sequel is Cole’s growth to doing what’s right (or wrong). In fact, everyone's character development is a lot better in this game, ESPECIALLY Zeke. In the first game, Zeke was a buffoon whom I hated because of how much of a self centered dick he was. In this game, he’s actually a lot more likable and works to regain Cole’s trust back to become a better person. Nix is kind of stereotypically evil in her responses which is okay sometimes, but becomes kind of tropey, not that I was bothered by that. Kuo is pretty cool and level headed, I like her a lot and by the end I can honestly see her character making the choices that she did through the plot of the game, even if it came out of nowhere. I guess overall, I don’t have much in the way of issues with the plot other than some holes but I can get into that in the next paragraph.
Another thing I want to mention is that like I said before, the game is good at negating spoilers and only hinting at things that happened. No references to the Kessler twist is brought up aside from a reference during the nuke mission and a few Dead Drops commenting on certain similarities. Another thing I like is that depending on the Karma brought over (or not brought over), whatever Dead Drops you get has altered dialogues about your choices from the first game. I think that stuff has amazing detail, and I like how it’s delivered. The Dead Drops don’t give you much in the way of new plot, but provide background items such as John’s connection with Lucy and Sebastian Wolfe, comments on Cole’s actions in Empire City, Bertrand’s time in the First Sons, Vermak 88’s involvement with the Militia, amongst other things. The background events from TVs reveal events on what’s going on with the government, there’s just a lot of flavor text I enjoy. The only thing I don’t understand is the obvious plot hole: If Cole’s heroic and canon actions means all conduits die, why are there sequels? I don’t really know or understand this but whatever I guess? It seems like the games were meant to end here, but money brought the sequels into play.
The gameplay is quite similar to the previous title: you parkour around the open world city, fight enemies with special powers (depending on Karma), drain electricity for health and energy, pick up blast shards to upgrade your powers and gain XP, complete missions and side quests, completing UGC Missions (User Generated Content) if they’re available, along with interacting with special karma events for a bit of a boost. Starting again with powers and transportation, for the most part it’ll still consist of special powers (such as the glide power) along with parkour. For the most part it’s still the same, tapping the X button the climb the side of buildings and the ability to glide across electric wires are still there amongst pretty much everything from the previous games. If I were to add something NEW that the game put in for transportation is probably the piping that is placed on the side of buildings that when jumped on, Cole boosts himself up electrically to slide himself up to the roof faster. The free running in this game feels a lot smoother than in the first game due to whatever system improvements they improved, however you’ll still have times where your character tends to gravitate towards certain objects and areas you’re not trying to go towards, and if you’re nearly dead or in combat then it can be frustrating to deal with.
However, one thing that helps is a specific power, though sadly you only get it way later in the game: Electric Tether. You can choose to switch between several different powers on the fly, and though I don’t remember what the electric tether replaces at the moment (maybe Kinetic Pulse? The ability to levitate vehicles and objects?), it’s fantastic for being able to reach further distances for faster and smoother parkour moments, almost like one of Spider-Man’s webs or something. Of course, being able to get more powers in this game, you have the ability to switch them on the fly and in this sense, you’re able to figure out what sort of build you want. Do you want the usual electric bolts? Do you want a burst fire electric bolt? A slower, but more powerful version? You can mix and match these sorts of powers, though most of these you can only unlock using XP and/or completing certain karma ranks/in game events (like hitting four enemies off of a roof at once as an example). If there’s anything I can give this game praise for, is that the amount of variation is pretty good, though I noticed that they forgot about the psychic mind reading stuff from the first game. However, sometimes switching out these abilities (holding down on the D-Pad and pressing the buttons you want to switch powers around) can feel kind of cumbersome.
If we’re going with Karma from earlier, as said before certain powers are locked behind certain karma ranks (such as Thug, Outlaw or Infamous and Guardian, Champion and Hero). You’ll be able to get these ranks by doing the actions that correspond, such as saving people or arc restraining criminals for good while the opposite is bio leeching everyone and killing indiscriminately. What I can say is that for the most part, the karma systems are very forgiving in how it’s implemented and I’ve killed numerous people by accident before but still stay in the good ranks and vice versa if that’s what you’re looking for. Of course, if you’re trying to go out of your way to be a hero or a bastard, then eventually you’ll get there. Some other ways you could do this is by completing designated karma moments during main missions (the only way to truly rise the ranks as some of it is blocked off early, as an example choosing whether to swap powers with Kuo or Nix gives you different powers and advantages), completing specific karma side missions or regular side missions in a karmic aligned manner (which isn’t always possible) or you could alternatively just grind them in designated UGC missions (though you’ll get limited XP) if you’re able to get the servers online. What I can say with the Karma is that it’s not really an in-depth system, it’s very in your face and blatant with how it makes its choices, sometimes making it feel a little bit shallow. That being said, it’s not the worst thing and sometimes I don’t really want some in-depth Karma system like the Metro games as an example and that’s ok.
The blast shards are back and gathering a bunch of them leads to your electricity capacity being raised in small bits. One pretty cool thing if you played the first game is that if you collected half the shards in Empire City, you’ll carry them over along with a level one karma of your playthrough into New Marais (if you so choose of course). Another thing I’d like to bring up as an improvement, unlike the first game, they patched out the “die instantly getting caught on random objects” glitch which I’m VERY thankful for because that was annoying to deal with. As such, the environment is also a bit more forgiving with water (essentially because New Marais is surrounded with it). While it’s instant death in deeper waters, more shallow waters (in the flooded areas) means you’ll still get damaged of course, but you don’t die instantly and it gives you a chance to escape.
Combat also feels a lot better melee wise, moving on from the fists leads to this game’s AMP, which is a giant metal stick capable of annihilation if upgraded all the way. If you upgrade it, then you’ll be able to reach 50% and 100% special attacks, in which pressing triangle leads to a special animation which can either finish off an enemy when they’re hurt or just wipe one out in general. However, if there’s a downside to combat in this game is just the factions this time are a lot less interesting: it mainly boils down to the Militia (the main faction in the first area and a group of southern fascists), Vermaak 88 (a south african mercenary group with ice powers who covers the northern area) and mutants, which can be seen mostly in swampy areas or in random situations. There aren’t a lot of cool gangs with their own personality, and while I understand that these factions are in here for a story based purpose, half the time I forgot who Vermaak 88 was and they’re essentially the coolest looking in the entire game. They also fight with different tactics: mutants just tend to swarm, the Militia act like an actual military while Vermaak tends to jump everywhere with Ice and stay on the move (which by the way, fuck their shotgun enemy type in the ass I hate that bitch).
I guess to finish off on gameplay stuff, at least with UGC stuff and hard difficulty mixed with trophies, UGC missions are needed to get one or two trophies I think? If you care about those, it’ll be a bit more difficult to do them now because Sucker Punch migrated servers for an eventual sunset in the future, so in order to do them now you’ll have to figure out something with the internet. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a solution so I can’t help with that sadly. One thing I can say is good trophy wise is that now, unlike the first game, you don’t need to unlock all the Karma powers. What this means is that if you already did it once for the good playthrough, you can essentially speedrun the evil playthrough and solely do the missions only and while they may be a tad more difficult without certain powers (on Hard Difficulty, that’s how I’d recommend it), the open world nature means there are more ways to escape and heal if need be. If I failed to bring some stuff up, my apologies as the game is for the most part other than a key few differences, the same as the first game except they feel a lot better; and honestly if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it is a good, sound mentality..
Speaking of sound, I’ll start with the voice acting audio wise by saying I still prefer Jason Cottle’s gravelly Cole Macgrath than I do Eric Laden’s. That’s not to say that it’s bad or anything because it’s not, in fact I often didn’t even think about the voice actor change. However, it’s strange they were able to get Caleb Moody back as Zeke from the first one, and not Cole’s original voice actor. I have no clue as to why this is, maybe it was a monetary thing or maybe it was just they wanted someone more youthful? Who knows, what I can say is that Caleb Moody does fantastic playing Zeke as someone who is more mature and regrets his mistakes from the previous game. Those are my main two standouts, though keep in mind everyone does a good job, from bringing Phil Lamar back as John from the first game to Michael Ensign as Sebastian Wolfe’s savory British voice and Dawn Olivieri as Kuo. Environmental stuff with New Marais is cool as ever sound design wise, with the favorite being grinding the electric wires on top of buildings and the weapons sound like how they feel, pretty damn good.
Music wise is pretty good too, the music being split into the Blue and Red side for Good and Evil Karma respectively; having only replayed the evil section recently I’d say that Closing Time is probably my favorite on that karma as it has a sort of jazzy flavor to it mixed in with the orchestral trappings. Fade Away by The Black Heart Procession on the Good Side (and Credits sequence I believe) sounds sad as hell, and is probably my actual favorite piece in the entire game period, accentuating the bittersweet ending to the Infamous franchise. La Roux sounds like something RL Burnside would make if he was doing video game music, and Shoot the Messenger sounds distinctly like a jazzy noir flick. In fact, to say that the whole soundtrack is southern flavored is an understatement and honestly fits the game like a fucking glove.
The graphics being Playstation 3 are predictably going to look like Playstation 3 graphics, however being me I can’t really complain on that end because I’m usually cool with stuff like that. Models look upscaled and have a bit more detail compared to the previous game, some models are just changed entirely however, especially Cole himself who honestly looks more youthful in comparison to Infamous 1. Funny enough speaking of Cole’s model, while I prefer how he looks and sounds in the first game, you know he almost had full on hair and weird looking track pants in the beta? Funny shit, I’ll post a link of a low res trailer below but thank god they didn’t go down that route. Enemy models are pretty interesting for the most part, with my favorite being how disgusting the creatures you can fight end up looking? Vermaak 88 is cool too as a gang, and Militia is ok I guess but I’ll be honest, I preferred how the gangs back in Empire City looked as they all felt distinct and just more…interesting I guess? That’s not to say that all of Empire City is better in every way of course.
In fact, while I love the dark and edgy vibe of Empire City of the first game, if I could give criticism it would be that having played both games back to back (sorta) that it feels like the developers smushed some jelly or something sometimes, like some weird filter stuff that I didn’t care for. In this game, with the brighter aura surrounding the city of New Marais thankfully they took that stuff off for the most part. Speaking of New Marais, while I prefer the city of Empire sometimes, the contrast between the two games speak to me as a sort of tonal character arc: the dark and gritty origin story while this game speaks more to Cole becoming the hero (or villain) that he’s meant to be fully and having a sunny and colorful, but dark backdrop in the form of the New Orleans expy is honestly an excellent choice. Whether fighting through the old buildings of the aging city against the Militia or trying not to electrocute yourself in the harrowing and kind of scary flooded section of the city makes it arguably more memorable than most areas in the first game. There are still comic book scenes of course, but the game definitely employs a lot more cutscenes as well to reflect the budget. Graphically and atmospherically, Infamous 2 is a game that improves upon its visuals in every way as a sequel should, even if I prefer some of the original some times.
Infamous 2 as a game to me, while still feeling a bit behind in some areas, represents what quality of Playstation Exclusives are, and in some ways is the high bar that modern generations haven’t been able to reach. That’s not to say there haven’t been bangers: Spider-Man, Bloodborne, hell even The Last of Us came out a year later and I’d say that’s the most popular one ever. But I feel that since the PS3 generation, there’s been a bit lacking in terms of truly original and creative content that truly excites me personally. The basics of Infamous for the most part were improved in every way, and if I were a head guy at Sony Interactive Entertainment then these would be some of the first PS3 games I would port to PC (as they should be). However, this being what I consider to be the pinnacle of the franchise, Sucker Punch would later take a dramatic shift in terms of quality and memorability (although the Festival of Blood DLC was pretty solid).
The sequel that took place after this, Infamous: Second Son, while decent enough, kind of killed the momentum of the series that truthfully, kind of died with Cole. Maybe that’s what should’ve happened? The ending of the second game said that all conduits died, and there are enough plot holes in Second Son that make me wonder about should’ve been? I don’t know, it’s hard to say. That’s not to say Sucker Punch hasn’t had a great track record in general, as since this game and the next sequels, they came out with the phenomenal Ghosts of Tsushima. Sometimes though, I wonder about what’ll be in the series future, especially because they announced no new Infamous or Sly Cooper titles. That and even the UGC stuff, while barely functional, was recently announced that maintenance would occur to have them move to a different server before an eventual sunset. However, during my evil playthrough they never came on once, and I’m not going to go through fifteen different INS server options to figure out how to bring them back. However, as far as I know they haven’t been fully shut down completely so I’d say if you wanna get the platinum, try to go for it now while you have the chance. And as a final thing, I hope SOMEONE at Sony definitely considers a remaster and a port, and if you don’t wanna put in UGC then get the best of missions perhaps as a sort of added content? I don’t know, but I don’t feel like ignoring our past will do us any good, not only as it’s a piece of gaming history but arguably because there are people out there that still love this game like I do. If there’s at least one person that loves something, then it’s at least worth the time and effort to keep the legacy going by any means necessary.