Sony Computer Entertainment
It's fitting that the inFamous series, an open-world exercise that centers on an average guy who ends up gifted with supercharged electrical powers, feels and plays a lot like your standard light switch. When it's on, it's really on, like the moments when our hero, ex-bicycle delivery guy Cole McGrath, skate-slides above the city skyline on power lines, lightning blasts crackling from his palms.
And when it's off, it's equally off, like the 20th time the game's sometimes misguided design traps Cole into a tight space, sending the same sets of enemies into his zap zone.
If you played through the first game, then you know the story. Cole's electric-power soufflé is the only thing that can take down the apocalyptic Beast that threatens all humanity. Trouble is, Cole's powers are still a few Energizer batteries short of up to the job. He's forced to flee to the Gulf Coast while the Beast makes its inevitable march southward.
And therein lies the reason inFamous 2 falls a few amps short of its predecessor. There's no real mystery here to draw you in and zap your interest with 10,000 volts of adrenaline. You're not unraveling the reasons why you've been tabbed as humanity's everyman savior. You just need to scour the bayou city of New Marais, tracking down enough power shards to give you a legit shot against Big, Bad and 100 Stories Tall, an enemy who bears an uncanny red-tinged resemblance to the supersized Ultimate Electro from last year's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
Wielding your powers is still a blast. It's incredibly satisfying to bowl your enemies over with a huge electrical wave, or, deploying inFamous 2's most awesome new power, sweep them up in in vortex like plastic bags in a windstorm. These are the moments, especially when you can combine your attacks on the beautifully rendered rooftop landscapes of New Marais, an open arena where you feel super and unstoppable.
You're probably not going to feel terribly conflicted about the damage you're wreaking, however. The game's moral/karma compass makes a return appearance, but it remains a great idea that ends up feeling like a plastic prize that looked better in the arcade crane machine. You can theoretically decide to resolve the moral conflicts the game tosses in your path by adopting a "good" or an "evil" response, but the game rewards you with karma points either way. Take out a set of armed kidnappers by hurling a car that also happens to kill the hostages, and you'll still score "good" points. Karma's supposed to be a bitch, guys, not a zoned-out watchman asleep at the switch.
inFamous 2's earliest buzz came from fans who were upset at Sucker Punch's efforts to glamorize Cole's gruff-and-tumble appearance. Maybe the fans would have been better off howling for a few more design improvements instead.