Infamous 2 First Impressions - Got a bad case of UGC

Infamous 1 is the game that in my eyes justified my purchase of a PS3. It did so many things well and blended them into a really unique game. It was a strange mash up of Sly Cooper-esque platforming, crazy super powers, a comic book style story and brilliantly realised city.

And now, Infamous 2 is out. It came out today (yesterday technically) and of course I picked it up.

For various reasons I've only really sunk about an hour into the game so far but I have to say, it seems like the core mechanics are the same, but the design of everything around them is so much better. The city feels even more realistic, with a more natural colour pallet (the first game suffered from lots of near greyscale areas) and the power system has been expanded. Like I said, I'm only about an hour in so I haven't even unlocked any new powers yet.

But honestly, I didn't make this post to talk about the gameplay. The game plays like the first but with a MUCH better framerate, and other improvements everywhere. But that's not what has impressed me most so far. The thing that has? UGC.

UGC stands for User Generated Content, not really something that is expected from a large open world action-platformer. It shouldn't work, it doesn't sound like it would work...But somehow it just does.

Infamous 2's UGC doesn't allow you to say, create a city, but it does let you use any area of New Marais to create your own missions, similar to the ones in the game. The tools seem relatively simple but also very clearly allow for a TON of depth as shown from some of the example levels created by Suckerpunch, and the full levels people have started to upload. These missions are integrated incredibly smartly into the world, simply using mission markers like any of the story missions, but green instead of Yellow or White, which missions appear on your map is dictated by a filter that you can set up in a menu that makes it really easy to surf through different types of levels.

For example, I set the filter to Featured to start with and went to the closest mission, a Suckerpunch example level that involved a giant disco ball murdering people, and Cole needing to throw propane canisters at it at appropriate times to take it down. Despite the appearance of a random giant murderous disco ball, this missions played pretty much like something from the game, or even the first game. But that's still really impressive. If more people keep making high quality levels like it then this UGC feature will be fantastic. At the moment, a lot of them don't seem to be there. Even this Suckerpunch one had a mission-breaking bug in it that caused me to restart the mission, but UNTIL that point, the quality was similar to that of a story mission, with multiple stages to the progression of it. But over time as people get used to the tools I expect the quality of the missions will increase, and I look forward to it.

That said, I don't come to Mods (which is essentially what this is) to play missions that feel like they could have been in the game. I come for the fucked up insane shit and in my short exploration of UGC, it delivered. The mission I found was simply "New Level" assumably the default name for missions, I spotted this excitingly named level and traveled to it to find out what it was. I mean why not? It turned out to be a platforming level that spawned various rails for you to run along to follow giant yellow arrows. These rails ended up leading to a grind cable (something that isn't placeable by the editor) which then lead to giant tankers of gas floating in the air, some of them spinning. The result being a really fun and challenging platformer level that I can just tell is what this feature will be used for. People are going to make insane, nearly broken, super difficult platforming sequences. 

And I totally dig that.