With the recent release of both Green Lantern and Thor video games, it’s getting difficult to find a comic book superhero who hasn’t been represented virtually somehow. Yet, one the most compelling examples of the genre isn’t about one of the usual suspects -- the “masks and tights” types ripped from the pages of DC or Marvel comics. Instead, it’s Naughty Dog’s inFamous series and ordinary guy-turned-superhero Cole McGrath, a character who has never graced the pages of a comic book before.
Breaking The Mold
“inFamous 2” is a sequel to the Sony PS3 exclusive that fell a bit under the radar when it was released in the summer of 2009. At the time, “inFamous” was an original concept that had the misfortune of being made almost simultaneously with Activision’s “Prototype” – another third-person, open world super hero game.
Yet, there’s a lot about inFamous that feels fairly original for the genre, including the overstuffed plot. As the story begins, the Beast, a mammoth mega-villain from the first game destroys Empire City. Cole and his rotund buddy Zeke flee the city to New Marais (a thinly-disguised New Orleans) to track down a scientist who may have a way to stop the Beast.
In the meantime, Cole and friends must fend off Bertrand, a political leader who has raised an army to bring safety to the city and hunt down every super-powered mutant. Cole also crosses paths with Kuo, a rogue government agent who assists you, and Nix, a fire-powered local who also aims to take down Bertrand and the Militia.
It’s not exactly the character of Cole that draws the player so much into inFamous -- the former bike messenger turned electric-powered superhuman comes off as gruff and sometimes unlikable. What works best is the superlative gameplay and the real sense that your character is gaining power and that you and Cole are both learning how those powers work together.
When the game begins, you have a melee attack via a blunt two-pronged device called an Amp that lets you beatdown your enemies with style. Cole is also granted a couple of basic electric-based attacks. As the game progresses, Cole gets stronger and upgrade his abilities with a variety of new powers: electric strikes from long distances for sniper-style attacks, hard hitting rocket blasts, and the ability to pick up and toss large objects like cars. The most entertaining power is a special ability that lets Cole create a giant tornado that swoops up everything in it’s violent path -- enemies, vehicles, and even pedestrians.
There are plenty of side missions to go a long with the main story, as is often the case with open world sandbox games. What also makes inFamous 2 unique is the inclusion of a D.I.Y. missions that let players create their own side missions for Cole. Naughty Dog has already uploaded a handful of the missions for the launch of the games and they bring a lot of diversity and creativity to the gameplay.
Sometimes sequels lack the magic of its predecessor, but in this case “inFamous 2” increases the considerable charm of the original in almost every way. Action and superhero fans are going to want to do the proverbial electric slide across New Marais with Cole McGrath.
Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter
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