Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Infamous 2 first impressions

I picked up the Special Edition of Infamous 2 on Saturday; fired it up and then waited for the patch to install. That's not the best of signs. After the game installation I cancelled out and used my code to pick up my extra content from PSN. Which doesn't seem to have installed in the game. So that's not good either.

[Update - The DLC will install if and only if you're online when you play or load a game. After that it sticks, but you have to be online initially]

I really liked Infamous 1 - a parkour game where you could shoot lightning out of your hands; it had its niggles, but the game was solid and it had an actual storyline that fleshed out the basic go here and do that missions. Infamous 2 takes the same approach; of course at the end of the first you were amped up with powers so they create a rather good excuse to depower you and at the same time introduce a sense of urgency to your actions.

All in all it's the same as the first with some extras. You start off with some of your 'old' powers and gain a couple of new ones quickly. Both climbing and melee mechanics have been improved as well as overall graphics. the game also seems harder; enemies seem to roam in larger gangs with much better weaponry than the first and it's very easy to get walloped by one you didn't see while trying to take out another.

Still some niggles though. I don't know why your radar sense is mapped to both L3 and L2 with the latter sharing double duty as 'suck electricity'. Although the radar does seem better (particularly at locating collectables) the electricity drain seems a bit snobby about exactly where you have to stand to use it.

As I said the climbing is better, but there's still that tendency to stick to things you don't want to for example a new climbing item has been introduced in terms of vertical power lines. In the previous (and in this) version  you can skate along horizontal power lines, but these vertical ones allow you to shoot upwards and gain a lot of height rather than manually climb. Well at least they would if you could confidently use them. Try to jump on one and I found myself more likely to grip another other protrusion that was close to it.

Missions too can be a little hit and miss. In one I was given a camera and asked to photograph one of those same vertical pipes. Off I went and duly snapped it. I was then asked to take a photograph of the bad guys mugging a pedestrian. As soon as this was asked the screen went grey and I was told I had failed for being spotted. The pipe was at the end of the same alleyway that the mugging was taken place - insta-fail.

The elephant in the room is the new voice actor for the main character Cole a little more gravelly, but I got used to it; most definitely not a voice that would have matched the first attempt to re-skin the character; saying that though am I the only one who thinks the new version looks scarily like Wayne Rooney?

Cole Rooney; separated at birth?

So far it's been fun. The new levitation power works well; the menu interface is much cleaner and easier to understand... I just wish the DLC I'd paid for worked. [Update - as mentioned you have to be online for the DLC to be authorised; once it is it can be used on or offline]


My first set of powers unlocked. As I said the interface is much cleaner than the original. Cimply press right on the d-pad and the powers menu appears. Each power is vertically grouped under the button or attribute linked to it. So the simple blast is filed under R1; any powers you gain from good or bad karma is filed under a mini version of your karma indicator etc. Powers themselves unlock in one of four ways - Automatic, once you achieve a certain level; earned, perform 10 of these stunts; bought, using experience points; or earned then bought. Earning works as an extra little tutorial - perform particular moves that you may not realise you could do. Of course it doesn't matter if you've been doing tons of them only the ones from when the power is available count [sigh].

With the extra powers comes something new. In the previous game once a power was upgraded that was it - that was the power now mapped to that key (a bit like that awful Dead Eye Level 2 in Red Dead Redemption)  however in Infamous 2 you can switch and it's really easy. Hit and hold the left d-pad and the game will pause and a menu slide out. Just like the power menu the moves are grouped by button. Press the button and if there's an alternative for it it'll switch. For grenade (Square) the first power is Alpha, once obtained pressing Square will switch it to Electrocution, then Sticky, then back to Alpha.

It brings a neat tactical edge without having to resort to the shooter's hammer space where the character is lugging an assault rifle, a sniper rifle, shotgun, pistol, missile launcher, combat knife plus ammo; or the more 'realistic' versions when the character is only allowed a choice of two main weapons. When lots of enemies appear switch to burst a low damage automatic 'weapon'; tough enemies switch to Magnum; fast moving try Pincer. Switching out types is so easy and instantaneous it makes me want to switch.

Going online also gave me access to the games multiplayer type aspect - User Generated Content (UGC). Anyone with the game can create their own mini level and post it online; the game then selects some at random depending on any filters you might have set and you can try them out, earn XP and rate how good they are.. Amusing that so far the ones created by 'users' have been better than those by the people who made the game.

One I seriously had to rate low was Kill Alley (I think). Start at one end of a dead end alley and make it to the other side against the enemies in the way. I killed/knocked out everyone, approached the end through the concrete barriers, had to jump over one due to a car being in the way and the one type I don't want to I attach myself to one of those vertical ascending poles. It shoots me up into the ceiling; the screen goes grey and calls me a coward for trying to leave the alley. It also had glitches with enemies on one side of a wall being unable to get out to attack me - not well handled at all.

Once finished I can see good UGC extending the life of the game]