inFamous had one of the best opening moments of this generation: you pressed the start button and Empire City exploded, a catastrophic accident which also gave protagonist Cole MacGrath his electrifying superpowers. Two years later and the sequel doesn't open with anywhere near that level of panache, instead delivering a weary animated cutscene to explain the hefty wedge of plot contrivances built up by the original.
Still, it's worth gritting your teeth and sitting through it because everything gets better once the exposition is done. inFamous' enduring qualities are not derived from plot or character; Cole has been completely redesigned, but somehow manages to be as equally forgettable as his original incarnation. Traversal, energy, and freedom are the strong suits here, and it's in these moments of bounding kinetic energy that the game hits its stride.
Sucker Punch seems to be aware of this too, unlocking a greater cache of swanky powers with far more immediacy than last time around. But Cole starts the game stripped of most of his arsenal after a calamitous opening encounter with arch-villain The Beast, forcing him to flee to New Marais, inFamous' take on New Orleans. Thanks to a bit of odd time-jiggery, The Beast is the very reason for Cole's existence to begin with - didn't I say not to worry about the story?
Bounding across rooftops and grinding across New Marais' four distinct districts on tram lines and power cables is still a massively pleasant experience. Sucker Punch has years of experience in making Sly Cooper an entertainingly lithe and acrobatic hero, and the studio's talents are still being put to excellent use. Navigation strikes a superb balance between empowering assistance and manual control, with Cole the perfect mix of tactile input and on-screen results. He's easily the best of all the open-world super-badasses.
As you progress through the game your powers twist and warp based on your karmic alignment, and Cole discovers a range of basic electrical bolt attacks, various tweaks of standard grenades, and more exotic elemental powers from one of his two new sidekicks. Over time he regains control of his rockets and powerful ionic attacks, allowing him to spew and fling massive whirlpools of electricity that consume entire blocks in whirling, fatal energy. Then there's the fantastic Lightning Tether, introduced way too late in the game, which allows Cole to fling himself across the map. The rest, well, those veer slightly into the realm of spoilers, but there are definitely some unexpected delights nestled within the package.