Support Jon, click to buy via us...
Infamous 2 may not quite nail the periphery, but the central gameplay is as strong as ever. Those looking for a role to play will find one here, but it does require some investment on the part of the player.
From a role play perspective, the first Infamous game was about establishing Cole MacGrath as a believable character. It defined his history, how he got his powers and set out his role in the world - Superhero.
I really got into this role during the first game, so I was a little surprised to find that Infamous 2 rewrites much of this history. For a start Cole's voice has changed, and he has a stockier appearance. He also seems to have inexplicably lost many of the power of the first game -- which you soon discover you need to work to earn back.
But as I played I actually found myself warming to this more fallible Cole. He is moodier and more petulant in a way that is unusual for a videogame lead and underlines his almost unlikable anti-hero persona.
Along with a revised character we also have a new location to explore. Infamous 2 takes us from Empire City to New Marais and here too I found more humanity and more interest. It's obviously based around New Orleans and has a post-carnival atmosphere about the place.
Getting around is a little easier too - Sucker Punch have made the game more accessible for newcomers. New electrical poles enable you to traverse the city vertically as well as horizontally with greater ease. I was reminded of Crackdown as I rummaged in every corner of the world looking for Blast Shard power-ups and Dead Drops audio-books.
I quickly built up a strong identity with him.
The story unfolds in fits and starts and grants a real sense of personality to Cole. As I played through the opening few hours I quickly built up a strong identity with him, and wanted to play the game as I imagined he would himself - rather than just acting out my own fantasises.
The main thrust of the game revolves around Cole boosting his powers to take on The Beast. This picks up where the first game left off and means that if you have time to visit the original beforehand you will get more out of the story here.
The main enemy is Bertrand, a dictator who reveals himself to be both colourful and multifaceted. Along the way Cole is joined by two other Superheroes who team up to help him progress. This is by no means high-literature but it functions in a tight knit way with the gameplay and feels nicely cohesive.
As in the original you get to choose between good or bad routes here (Famous or Infamous as the game puts it). These choices are often binary to the extreme and present a view of the world that is simplistic to say the least. This is obviously not a morality play - not a successful one at least.
What it does do well though is create a range of excuses for some highly entertaining combat. Some may find this a little repetitious, but I warmed to the rhythm of each wave of attackers and really enjoyed honing my shooting skills and superpowers.
It adds another dimension without breaking your suspension of disbelief.
There was a section towards the middle of the game where this does grind a little, but pushing through rewards you with the powers and abilities to start making faster progress. It's also helped by the enanced navigation system - the electrical power lines. This isn't quite as flexible as Assassin's Creed or imaginative as Bioshock Infinite but it still adds another dimension to the game world without breaking your suspension of disbelief.
While I know there will be many who will suggest that Infamous 2 is a missed opportunity, for me it gets an awful lot right. In terms of developing interesting characters and creating a believable world this is far advanced from the first outing. While the gameplay may be largely the same, the marginalia around that central mechanic are now much more interesting. For that reason I'd happily play the game again to try out the good path - yes I couldn't resist being Infamous the first time through.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: