Thursday, June 2, 2011

IMPRESSIONS - inFamous 2 (demo).

It should come as no surprise that I played through inFamous 2's demo three or four times in the 10.5 hours since the PlayStation Store came back online. Given that it took a few hours to download and a while to install - and I had to sleep somewhere in there - most of my recent waking hours have been dedicated to its exploration.

I've always said that inFamous 2 would be one of the better games of 2011 if it was merely as good as the original game. In many ways, the demo shows inFamous 2 to be much better - but there are some things that will take some getting used to.

In my review for inFamous, I noted that superpowered everydude Cole McGrath was, perhaps, too "sticky." If you jumped off the ground within four or five feet of anything that he could grab or climb on, he would hop in its direction whether you wanted him to or not. Over time, I became exceedingly accustomed to his controls - but inFamous 2 fixes what I had identified as a problem.

I doubt the scale has tipped too far in the other direction, but Cole definitely needs more player input this time around - he's not nearly as sharp at intuiting what the player intends in the environment.

This is a double-edged sword, which I expect is ultimately a positive move on the part of Sucker Punch. EuroGamer's review went up today, and Christian Donlan echoes my sentiments about where inFamous stands among its platformer peers - specifically, on top of the podium:
"A touch more involved than Assassin's Creed and a lot less fiddly than Mirror's Edge, inFamous 2 is video games' true master of parkour."
Never as potentially-frustrating as Faith, never as hands-off as Ezio, Cole still hits a sweet spot of grace, and the translation of intention to action. If there is any one thing I'm actually disappointed in with the demo, it's not how Cole handles or the little changes they've made here or there in gameplay - it's something they've done with presentation.

Here's Cole using his Induction Grind ability - he'll basically zip down train tracks, power lines and streetcar cables at high speed. It's a great way to travel and it looks cool, but in inFamous 2, in the name of showing us how cool it looks, the camera will automatically pan slightly to the side for a more interesting angle.

The problem with this is that, as we leap off the cable and go blasting through the air, our viewing angle has been changed and it's harder to judge where we're going to land. I have been jumping from one cable to another for almost three years now, and that's one thing I've got down - the change here robs me of that time-honed skill - though I suspect spending enough time with inFamous 2 will allow me to adapt. I hope.

Beyond that tiny issue, inFamous 2 feels just slightly tightened up in the gameplay/platforming department. You need to be more precise with your wall-kicking double jumps, for example - and I suspect the result of this system that relies more heavily on player ability will pay dividends in satisfaction - and I love that the static thrusters now give you a bit of lift at first, allowing the ability to more ably serve as your double-jump.

Elsewhere, inFamous 2 is a laundry list of presentational improvements. Graphics have received a significant overhaul, voice work is far better and finally - thank God - they have in-engine cutscene and facial animation that actually looks decent.

Not incredible - but certainly better than average.

...what else is there to mention? I love the way you'll see a dude's skeleton sometimes when you electrocute/suck the life out of them. The variety in enemy types is lovely. The Amp (new melee weapon) is stylish and satisfying, but a little sluggish.

Oh, I've got one! I hate it that your standard electricity bolt is now a projectile that takes time to travel.

That's some bullshit.

Can't wait 'till Tuesday.

[update] After running through it another three times, I seem to have a handle on the induction grind thing. Very pleasurable. [/update]

1 comment:

  1. I thought the movie titles set up on the movie theater in the demo, were a nice touch. Along with the further hint a Sly 4 existing.