By FinalDasa 19 Comments
Note: Spoilers beyond this point.
In an effort to prepare for the upcoming Infamous: Second Son, as well as play through a backlog of PS3 games, I began pushing through the first two games in the franchise. I probably should have given more time between the two to fully enjoy both, but oh well.
Right away the first Infamous didn't exactly hook me. Released two years after Crackdown, a game I played plenty of, Infamous looked and felt like a beefed up version of the same game. And in some ways it really is. Open world, hidden items that improve your character, earning experience points, spending points on upgrades, and the idea of verticality all are obvious focuses of design in both.
What finally hooked me was the tight focus Infamous had married with its game design. Leveling your character up, purchasing new powers, and exploring the world and combat with these powers feels really natural. Just as I began to get tired of the beginning island (and this was after playing through a good chunk of the side missions) the second one opened up and the enemies got a little harder. Soon the story got more interesting, even with Zeke's annoyances, and I earnestly wanted to see how my decisions would play out.
The one piece of design I didn't enjoy were those decisions. The morality felt more tacked on than a part of the overall design and game play of Infamous. It felt like someone had the idea to add morality and no one expanded upon or evolved the idea any further.
The story was another weak point. While I did want to see the ending, and enjoyed fighting my way through the myriad of gang bosses within the game, it felt as if what was being set up would be grander. Both games have TVs placed around the world that show you how the outside world is responding to the in-game events. Neither cash in this set up though. While I knew what Infamous 2 was doing, Infamous 1 felt like this was one thread left untied.
But when it came down to it when I finally finished Infamous, I just wanted more.
Whereas the first Infamous left me with a lackluster initial impression, Infamous 2 blew me way with in the first hour or so. The visuals were turned up, the art within the game became more bright and colorful, and the tweaks to characters, powers, and overall art design really made Infamous 2 seem more like a true AAA title of its era. However the further along I went into Infamous 2, the more it's continuing sore spots wore heavy on me. I couldn't get enough of the well designed side missions and collectibles in the first game but in the second everything felt tacked on or easier.
Blast shards are the game within the game of Infamous 2. In the original the first batch on each island were a good mix of low hanging fruit and cleverly hidden. Some of the tougher ones would force you to climb the highest tower or stare at ledges for several minutes as if figuring out a complex PushMo puzzle. In 2, the majority of these shards are all easy to grab. Before opening up any new areas of the game I had already wrung the shards out of the first area completely. This was repeated several times through each new section of the game until the final area only had a scant few on really high buildings or structures.
The game play also felt as if it was getting in the way of itself rather than serving the overall design. You're meant to be a running electrical storm and yet each new batch of baddies would terrify me as soon as one had a rocket launcher. With deadly aim and one blast these bad guys could have you on your ass while a few more bullets put you down even before your animation allows you to move again. A similar death trap occurs when the Ravagers, a tougher to beat enemy that would roll around with other swamp monsters, would catch you in a melee charge. This charge would trap you on the ground and require you to mash R1, shocking the Ravager off of you. The problems happens when the other swamp enemies would also rush you while trapped in the Ravager escape animation. Now your health is dwindling at twice the rate with no where to run.
Making me feel trapped within the confines of the design when I should feel like a superhero severally cut my enjoyment of Infamous 2 the further I went along.
The story was both a plus and minus. Overall I enjoyed the broadening of the Conduit concept, allowing more characters with powers allowed the writers more room to play around in. Where it felt more lackluster was the execution. Both the swamp monsters and the sudden appearance of 'the plague' went unexplained long enough that I almost thought it never would be. For a few hours I wondered if these new story hooks would just sit around and just be wasted time. Finally though the story came around on itself. Revealing John as the beast, Kuo and Nix switching moralities in the end, and all the characters feeling more well rounded. Even Cole and Zeke's bromance felt like two real friends than a pestering Zeke and gravel voiced Cole.
I don't know what I want from a new Infamous, and I like that. Ending Cole's story after two games felt right. They set up the plot in 1, then knocked all the pins down in 2. But they left a complicated and changed world in their path. Playing around in this new world, with new characters, and new stories sounds more interesting than anything I think they could come up with for an Infamous 3.