Recently, Sony gave away “inFamous” as part of their “We’re sorry our online security sucks and our network was down for a month” promotion, as a not-so-subtle attempt to get people to play the first one and then buy the second. If sales are any indication, it worked.
“inFamous” and “inFamous 2″ are both great games…but how do they stack up against each other? We put them back to back to find out.
The first “inFamous” is a superb shooter simply because the enemies aren’t idiots; they take cover, they attack in groups, they throw grenades, and they’ll try and shoot blind. They also have really good aim, making them actually dangerous. They don’t just mindlessly bum rush you, and if you try to bum rush them guns blazing, they’ll probably kill you. You actually need to strategize and pick your battles.
“inFamous 2″ tweaks the overall gameplay and improves it to some degree. In the first game, your basic lightning bolt attack was incredibly effective and had infinite ammo: in the sequel, it uses a minute amount of your energy, so while being a backshooting dirtbag is still the best option, you’ll need to plan it out and use melee attacks more, at least at first. Also welcome: when you’re close to death, enemies are highlighted in white, unlike the first game, where they just became blurs with machine guns.
That said, there are a few nitpicky details that hold “inFamous 2″ back. When you whip out a massive club and start pounding enemy faces in, the camera suddenly becomes a pain in the ass. There are an entire class of enemy that just mindlessly bum-rush you.
And speaking of enemies, the second game breaks out no less than three different classes of miniboss, which, unlike the first game, you will encounter over, and over, and OVER again. In fact there’s one type, the Ravager, which combines pretty much everything people hate about minibosses, from resistance to your basic attacks to churning out smaller incredibly annoying enemies to having a huge amount of health, and a third of the side missions will feature at least one of these annoying bastards. The worst part is the minibosses all have essentially the same strategy: stick a grenade to them, run away, power up, rinse, repeat.
So, in the end, in terms of gameplay, both games are pretty even. Graphics-wise, though, it’s no contest: “inFamous 2″ wins by a mile. While the first “inFamous” had great graphics, the second has far more of an epic sense of scale. You can blow up half the map if you really want to, by flinging around tornadoes and lightning storms. If enemies are on balconies, you can take out the supports and crush them with the debris. Or you can literally throw cars at them.
There is very little more satisfying than tossing a cab at some jackass attacking you with a rocket launcher.
Finally, there’s the writing. Honestly, the first “inFamous” suffered from severe underwriting. For example, we’re supposed to feel bad that the hero loses his girlfriend, but she’s such a raging bitch to him the entire damn game that, quite frankly, it’s a little surprising Cole doesn’t dump her ass well before the huge plot twist that is her sole reason for existing. What’s really terrible is she’s even worse on the “evil” playthrough: she uses you and then dumps you. Similarly, Cole’s alleged friend Zeke is such a glory-hogging useless jackass that you wonder why he survives the first game.
The second game, thankfully, addresses this. Kuo and Nix, the two women who represent good and evil, are not only fairly detailed and well written, you can actually understand why they make the choices they do. Nix in particular you feel pretty bad for; she pretty much spends most of the game getting dumped on and mistreated for reasons she doesn’t understand and are entirely beyond her control. Kuo, meanwhile, is actually pretty adorable as she struggles to deal with superpowers. She’s hilariously awkward around Cole. Similarly, Zeke, you finally get why he and Cole are friends, including one side mission that’s essentially a hilarious shaggy dog story.
Overall, “inFamous 2″ is the better game: Sucker Punch has had a lot of time to tweak the gameplay and graphics to offer an even better sequel. Then again, “inFamous” is free if you’ve got a PS3…