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This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Sucker Punch's open-world action game inFamous 2, which reviewers claim "marks a maturation from 'good game' to 'genre standout.'"

Danny Cowan

June 8, 2011

5 Min Read

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Sucker Punch's open-world action game inFamous 2, which reviewers claim "marks a maturation from 'good game' to 'genre standout.'" inFamous 2 currently earns a score of 86 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Sterling McGarvey at GameSpy gives inFamous 2 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Sucker Punch's sequel [is] a standout in a genre loaded with plenty of options for massive open-world destruction and mayhem," he writes. "You might be playing as a super-powered freak, but you're more human than the armies aiming to destroy you." "As sequels fare, inFamous 2 marks a maturation from 'good game' to 'genre standout,'" McGarvey praises. "The first game was a sound exercise in open-world play, superpowers, and binary choices; this sequel nips, tucks, and buffs up those features to create single-player content with plenty of intriguing hooks, pulpy comic book narrative, and latent political commentary within its thunderbolts and lightning grenades." A new melee mechanic goes a long way in making the game more entertaining than its predecessor. "Cole is armed with the Amp, a huge tuning fork-like club that he uses for close-quarters combat as well as prying open chamber doors," Cole explains. "It's much faster and more responsive in fights, and patches up the first game's rather bland hand-to-hand battles." "inFamous 2 embodies significant growth in Cole's superhero journey," McGarvey notes. "The first title established him and set our expectations for Sucker Punch's universe, but the sequel expands it into a highly entertaining, thrilling, and responsive action game bursting with stout combat. "It's not always even -- the combat camera is still off-kilter, and the Manichean morality system feels a little long in the tooth (but then, arguably, it does across several genres) -- yet the numerous improvements define it as one of the most entertaining titles you'll play in 2011." Game Informer's Andrew Reiner scores inFamous 2 8.75 out of 10, calling it "a heroic attempt that falls just short of greatness." "[A] brilliantly designed opening gives way to an unexpected shift in tone, where a great threat looms over the entire story and uncertainty rests in the mind of all of its major players, Cole included," Reiner says. "His act of cowardice doesn't just give this story's opening a dark The Empire Strikes Back-style tone, it leads to a dramatic change of setting." Reiner continues: "Cole's standing in this world, and the tale that unfolds within it, is once again dictated by player choice. 'Good' and 'evil' options accompany most missions, and portions of the game and story close off based on Cole's choices -- making it a game you'll have to play twice if you want to see it all." This new direction isn't entirely successful, however. "This time around, Cole isn't as emotionally invested in the plot or choices tied to it," Reiner explains. "His role is that of an organic Mega Man, powering up as he goes. The 'Cole versus the Beast' plot hook isn't handled well and loses its allure as other confusing narrative threads take shape." "The more I played inFamous 2, the more I found myself disengaged with the story, instead enjoying the experience solely for its amazing open-world superhero fights," Reiner writes. "The game sacrifices its narrative flow for more fantastic elements. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing; it just ends up being more about the action and random moments than Cole's journey." Chris Holt at GamePro rates inFamous 2 at 3.5 out of 5 stars. "inFamous 2 is a superhero-themed sandbox game that has the unenviable task of following up a beloved title," he says. "While technical and design choices make this a bit a disappointment, some great set pieces, fun powers, and memorable battles still make for an enjoyable ride." "inFamous 2 stumbles where so many sandbox games have before: its later areas are always the least navigable and most annoying," Holt notes. "Cole can jump on telephone wires and quickly traverse rooftops with some clever parkour moves and a healthy use of his static floating ability. Why would you then create areas without telephone wires, without rooftops, and where he's mostly on foot? Instead of being challenging, the later areas seem to be from a different, non-superpowered game." The empty environments are similarly disappointing. "inFamous 2's creators seemingly created a large and open world and gave the character lots of cool powers but never figured out how the two should interact," Holt writes. "The city's attention to detail is admirable, but trading out the urban jungle gym of Empire City for the dank swamps, flooded buildings, and largely uniform industrial areas of New Marais was a major mistake." "inFamous 2 is a hard game to hate, but an even tougher game to acclaim," Holt concludes. "It gets so much right -- great set pieces, a terrific series of battles involving monsters, and some truly compelling powers that really do put you in the conductive shoes of a superhero. The ability for users to create their own missions also means this game has room to grow. "But the problems with inFamous 2 are more than just the result of raised expectations and trying to do too much. Yes, the missions are unimaginative (even compared to the original), navigation issues prevent you from ever attaining a movement rhythm, and the various narratives are a mess. But worse still, the combat isn't as tight as it could be and the world itself just seems less polished than its predecessor. Yet, for those moments when the game shines, it shines brightly."

About the Author(s)

Danny Cowan


Danny Cowan is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for Gamasutra and its subsites. Previously, he has written reviews and feature articles for gaming publications including 1UP.com, GamePro, and Hardcore Gamer Magazine.

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