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InFamous 2 returns Cole McGrath to fighting his way through a city of hostiles, choosing whether to be the hero or the villain. The sense of locomotion and combat is compelling, but it's the way it plays with right and wrong that is the most fun - although more than a little scary how close the two extremes become.
I just fooled myself into believing a lie. InFamous 2 offered me binary choices of good or bad, but whatever I did the same cut scene played. Yet somehow in my mind's eye the story meshed perfectly my actions, whether I was behaving as a demon or a saint.
In defence of my feeble mind, it was fooled by the personality inFamous 2 had me create for my electrically charged character, Cole McGrath. From the outset I was deciding between two extremes of morality, with no room in between. Burn the village to the ground or save the injured, kill street performers or stop muggings, there is no grey in the world of InFamous 2.
In theory I suppose there was a middle ground, a chaotic unpredictable mix of the two, oscillating wildly between executioner and saviour. But this (far from ideal) compromise was actively discouraged, because it was only by reaching moral extremes that I could access the best powers. Because of this I ended up playing the game twice, so I could have fun with the powers of both virtue and vice.
Fortunately, while little had changed since the original InFamous, the controls and movement are much more satisfying - even playing a second time was no chore. Indeed as I restarted the game, again stripped of my abilities, I never felt underpowered or frustrated.
From the outset InFamous 2 gives a sense of empowerment.
From the outset InFamous 2 gives a sense of empowerment. Even when you start with only minimal powers you can still shoot electrical projectiles and grenades from your hands, hover through the air and grind along power lines. Even on a second pass, unlocking skills is still a thrill, even more when they were new dark powers.
Playing as an evil, twisted Cole filled me with a joyous malice. Eliminating all who stood in my way or posed a threat to my domination I was rewarded for my villainy with evil karma points and words of encouragement from the more dastardly of my companions. A few key audio messages encouraged my behaviour, but for the most part it was my own actions that created this dark Cole, driven by a desire to acquire this evil karmic experience and the powers that provided.
As the new evil story progressed I began to realise that the cut scenes remained unchanged. The comic panelled exposition (fitting perfectly with the extremes of the world) unfurled in front of me identically, regardless of my actions in the game up until that point. But somehow these seemed to fit both extremes. Statements that previously seemed to be of concern became laced with venom and intimidation. Cole's rough voice, which previously I took for stereotypical hero voice of the day, morphed in to threatening criminal.
As the new evil story progressed I began to realise that the cut scenes remained unchanged.
InFamous 2 is an adventure game that offers an experience played through its dark and light lens, and I had been incapable of avoiding the illusion. It was the power of my imagination and that made me Cole good as he protected the city, or evil as I climbed buildings and decimating the city's population.
InFamous 2 refines the series intelligently and is a game I greatly enjoyed. As well as the main experience though, I also enjoyed the way it played with the concept right and wrong. It seems to suggest that good and evil are two sides of the same coin. I'm still working out what I think about that, but while I do I'm planning to give it one final play through.
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