Review: inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood
inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood
Sucker Punch Productions
Sony Computer Entertainment
Review copy provided by the publisher
Similar to last year’s Undead Nightmare expansion for Red Dead Redemption, inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood is a stand-alone game in the inFAMOUS universe, based around the world you already know, changed in weird ways because it’s Halloween.
The initial set-up is hilariously thin; Zeke is trying to warm up to a chick at a bar, so he starts telling her this story about last year’s “Pyre Night” and how his good buddy Cole got mixed in with vampires and their resurrected queen, Bloody Mary. Cole gets bitten by her, and, if he can’t kill her before dawn, he’ll be a vampire forever.
The game just kinda tosses you in. You’re only doing the story set-up stuff for like fifteen minutes, and then you get thrown out into the world with new powers granted to you by being a vampire. This makes the start pretty slow, but once they start opening up side missions and you get used to your new powers, the story kicks in and actually gets entertaining, mostly due to its intentional corniness.
Those new powers actually bring a lot to the experience. First of all, right after you’re granted them, the morality meter is completely thrown out. There are no repercussions for anything you do. Instead of having that meter, you have a “Blood Meter” that you have to keep filled to use your vampire abilities. You gain blood through killing civilians or “staking” vampires, as your arc weapon is replaced with a giant wooden stake attached to the remnants of a stone column (and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds).
The main ability that you earn through your powers is flight. You turn into a giant cloud of bats and fly around. Yeah, I think you’re starting to get an idea of what they’re going for with this game. Anyway, it takes a while to get used to how it controls, but once you start using it, it’s surprisingly good at stringing moves together; you can just fly up to the top of a building, jump onto a wire, and preserve that momentum through flight as you move onto another wire. Moving around the city becomes much faster and fluid, while retaining enough physical control that you feel like your skill matters a lot to how well you move.
It doesn’t change up the combat all that much. It’s more melee-focused than inFAMOUS 2 was, and enemies with guns are about as annoying as they were before, but it’s very fun due to that. You can only kill enemies through “staking” them, which adds a cool finisher to your combo where you impale them on the ground, and the attacks flow into the combat well enough that they don’t feel tacked-on. These moves are also referred to as “stakedowns”, which I thought was rather clever.
The other big ability you get is “Vampire Vision”, which acts as a sort of combination of Assassin’s Creed‘s “Eagle Vision” and Batman: Arkham Asylum‘s “Detective Vision”. At first you use it to track down a big vampire (that looks like it jumped out of 30 Days of Night) called a “Firstborn” by seeing its footprints, after which it’s used for a few side-missions, like finding glyphs Bloody Mary has hidden around the city that unlock the vampire equivalent of audio diaries, finding jars of blood that increase the capacity of your Blood Meter, and finding hidden Firstborns.
The new side-missions are surprisingly entertaining, on the whole. The Firstborn finding is especially fun, mostly due to the great animation when you kill them. Most of the side-missions are rewarded well too; killing vampires grants you new abilities, and most side-mission paths end with a trophy, but those requirements that you have to meet are short enough that they don’t feel dragged out.
Festival of Blood also makes some good aesthetic changes; the whole town is done up in Pyre Night decorations, all of which feel appropriately Halloween-y. The color scheme of the buildings and sky are dead, mostly grey, but they contrast well with the warm tones of the fires and Halloween decorations. There are some good uses of the soundtrack here and there as well, though I’m not sure if they’re new to the expansion or if they’re out of 2. Killing vampires while hot jazz or blues rock blares in the background is quite satisfying either way.
The UGC stuff is back from 2, and it’s largely the same. It makes use of the new abilities that Cole has and all, but it’s still the same UGC stuff from before, just with Move support. I haven’t seen much stuff made with it yet, probably because more people have yet to get this game.
It’s not a very long piece of content; I managed to get through the story and most of the side stuff (excluding the jars and glyphs) in about four hours or so, and the other stuff would likely just add another hour onto it. It’s only ten bucks though, and that length combined with the entertainment value makes that more than reasonable a price.
If you haven’t played an inFAMOUS game before, I’m not sure whether or not you should play this. It’s fun on its own, but at the same time a lot of the humor comes out of the contrast between the characters’ traits here and their more stone-faced seriousness in the main games. However, if you’re already a fan of the games, or at the very least have played them, the new elements (and removal of others), along with the great value and appropriate seasonal content, make it worth playing.