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Gaming: Infamous 2 Demo

This whirlwind is one of the game's new powers. I'd still like an electric shotgun equivalent.

I realise Infamous 2 released a couple of months ago and the demo itself must have been out before that, but while waiting for the Space Marine demo to download I was rooting around my PS3 and discovered this demo sitting there, unplayed. The first game was fun enough (currently just sitting at the bottom of my top ten games of 2009), let down by the combat feeling off (to the point that I often avoided it where possible), a bland city to explore and pointless morality choices, all issues easily fixable in a sequel. So have Sucker Punch done that?

At the moment I’d would answer with a tentative ‘yes’. The game’s setting has shifted from Empire City to the game’s version of New Orleans, New Marais, instantly giving it much more character. Even in the demo the urban areas are complemented by slums and swamps, as well as the city itself having buildings with an unmistakably New Orleans feel (which Wikipedia informs me is ‘French Creole architecture’). Even just riding along tram cables is more visually interesting than the train tracks of the first game.

Combat also seems improved, with existing abilities tweaked and new ones added. There is also an improved melee attack thanks to Cole having a weapon for it, called the Amp. It gives Cole extra range and is more fun than just punching. My opinion on the combat does come with a caveat though, namely that the demo seems to give you infinite energy for your special attacks, and as the demo informs you that these moves require energy it seems safe to assume that in the full game you can run out of energy and will have to recharge or rely on your basic attack. That’s a shame because the basic lightning bolt is as unimpressive as it ever was, weak and unsatisfying to use. I hardly used it in the demo, preferring instead to charge in and throw around grenades, destroy walkways with the rocket launcher and just rain explosive death upon everybody.

The demo doesn’t give you enough to see whether the morality system is at all improved. The cutscenes (all of which were in-engine and were voiced and animated pretty well) did have a couple of characters complementing or criticising your actions, but it wasn’t clear if that changes based upon your morality as they both seemed to be from early in the game. As with the original game’s demo the Infamous 2 demo switches you from good to evil to allow you to see both sides, and the powers change in the same way, good powers being more targeted to focus the damage on your target, evil powers having a wider area of effect, spreading the damage a little more indiscriminately.

One of the missions while you’re evil has you rescue a captured woman who was about to be sacrificed. It wasn’t clear why evil Cole would want to do that (Zeke says it will improve your standing among the locals, which evil Cole wouldn’t care about), and then once you rescue her you have to escort her. Yes, Sucker Punch try to sell you on the game by putting an escort mission in the demo, the most hated mission type in gaming. She dies easily , of course (especially if you attack her, knock her to the ground and drain her life force), and when that happens you fail the mission. Upon completing the mission Cole gains the tentative allegiance of a new faction, but that wasn’t clear until after the mission was done. I don’t see why evil Cole would have cared if she died or not, and the story didn’t attempt to accommodate his morality. That suggests that the morality system could end up as pointless as in the first game, but we’ll have to see.

At worst Infamous 2 seems like it will be a bit of an improvement on the original, already a solid game. At best it could be a big improvement and a truly good game. The demo hasn’t really raised my interest in the game (it’s still something I’ll pick up eventually rather than something I’m eager to play), but it hasn’t dampened it either.

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