Cole McGrath didn't want this — the powers, the control, the power to become worshiped or feared — he was a messenger-turned-savior as Empire City was overrun by militia controlled by a shadowy agency known as the First Sons. But this choice wasn't his to make. In fact, it was never a choice at all; Kessler, another electricity wielding being, used the powerful ray sphere not to destroy Cole's life, but to prepare it.
The first Infamous received critical acclaim for it's fresh comic book-esque storytelling coupled with the standard sandbox-gameplay made famous by games life Grand Theft Auto 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Assassin's Creed. In it's climax, Cole was warned of an impending storm that would wipe out most of mankind in a sea of fire. Known only as the beast, Kessler wanted to prepare Cole so that he could become the savior mankind would soon need. Infamous 2 picks up soon after the original, as Cole squares off against the monstrous creature ... and gets his ass kicked. With a few clever plot twists, solid vocal performances, improved and streamlined combat mechanics, and two different ending possibilities, Infamous 2 is a wonderful sequel that properly maintains what made the first title great and deepens the narrative and Cole's world.
Infamous 2 takes Cole to the city of New Marais, designed as a carbon copy of modern day New Orleans. Half bustling city and half bayou, Cole must feverishly improve his powers before The Beast finds him and destroys any chance of mankind's survival. Alongside Cole's best friend Zeke, he is joined by newcomers Kuo and Nix. While they place a significant story role, they also play into the Karma and Power mechanics of Cole's electric repertoire. Good deeds (stopping muggings, saving hostages, healing people) will merit you good karma, while evil actions (killing cops, leeching life, breaking up musician groups) grant you evil karma. Furthering Cole in either side will grant him unique powers, while locking out others. The system is also coupled later on in the game with alternate powers, such as fire or ice. Each branch has it's strengths and weaknesses, given the combat situation at hand, but on the whole they are both wildly unique and a whole lot of fun to play around with (giving you a definite reason to play through it again).
The original Infamous had Cole progressing through a linear story while having access to several side missions and optional avenues to delve into the game's back story. This mechanic is left largely unchanged with the same mission structure and more "dead drops." Carrier pigeons carry several audio logs that reveal interviews with several past and present characters, exploring their motives and histories with each other. While not necessary to beat the game, it does lend an emotional dimension to Cole's friends and enemies as you hear about what went on before Cole was ever in the mix. Moreover, it also helps deepen the impact of the game's two significantly different endings. Depending upon Cole's karmic state, the ending sequence changes a few details that may yield vast consequences to the rest of the world, should there be a 3rd installment (which is all but certain, given this game's success so far).
Despite a few wonky camera issues, small AI grievances and just a touch of frame-rate dipping in a few areas, Infamous 2 is an all around knockout of a sequel that deserves any PS3 owner's attention. Even if you have not played the original title, the sequel does a great job of filling in the important details and gets you off and running in no time. Since the ending of the first Infamous, I've been eagerly awaiting a second helping just for a chance to see what The Beast was all about. Fortunately, I found so much more that in the end, The Beast was really nothing more than a damn good reason to play Cole McGrath again.
See you in the next level,