inFamous 2: Festival of Blood Preview -- A Serious Fang for Your Buck...Goodnight Folks!By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Oct 17, 2011
Sony and Sucker Punch will be releasing the inFamous 2 expandalone DLC inFamous 2: Festival of Blood on October 25. The sequel's city of New Marais has been re-skinned with a more Halloween-friendly feel, and the new "what if" scenario story finds our electrically charged superhuman Cole MacGrath turned into a vampire and on a hunt for his creator. You'll get new powers, new user-generated content features, new enemies, and the city's new look, all without having to own the original June release.
Here's the kicker though: it'll cost you just $9.99.
That's how my Festival of Blood demo opened last week, with confirmation of the ridiculously low price tag. The story will only take you a handful of hours to complete, but when you consider the fact that the pack also includes the original sequel's mission creator as well as more than 20 pre-made custom missions from Sucker Punch and the community's top creators, $10 is a pretty great value.
The DLC picks up after the events of inFamous 2. Cole's showdown with the Beast has concluded and his old pal Zeke is spending some time relaxing in a dive bar with some booze. He perks up when an attractive, young woman walks in, playing the "I know Cole MacGrath" card almost immediately. She's initially hesitant, but Zeke's natural charm wins out and he proceeds to spin out a tall tale about his friend's supposed recent brush with vampirism.
Bloody Mary is the leader of a powerful vampire clan that is local to New Marais, and she's turned MacGrath into one of her own kind. Cole has only a small window of time in which to save his soul, a single night -- the New Marais' Halloween celebration, Pyre Night -- in which he must find and defeat his vampire master. Much like the "miles to go" untimed countdown in inFamous 2, the Festival of Blood story progression will frequently marked by "hours to sunrise" updates.
While the gameplay is fundamentally unchanged from inFamous 2 -- Cole begins Festival of Blood with all of his endgame powers unlocked -- there are a few additional quirks that are specific to our hero's new blood-sucking ways. Biting is an actual mechanic, with an R1 prompt appearing on the screen whenever you're close enough to one of the city's fleshy bloodsacks (i.e. humans). Blood won't be necessary to stay alive, but you'll want to keep Cole as full and sated as possible because of the new power it ties to. Your Ionic abilities are gone in Festival of Blood, with the D-pad-mapped power instead being given over to the new Shadow Swarm ability.
In short, Shadow Swarm allows you to fly, a first for the series. When you hold down the button to activate the power, a first-person perspective ringed by a flock of squealing bats pops up as you guide Cole around with the right stick. The HUD features a new, circular meter with a beating heart at its center; this meter drains quickly as you fly, though it can be replenished easily enough with more blood. True to the inFamous spirit, the size of the blood meter can also be upgraded by collecting glowing red bottles scattered throughout the city.
Cole's transformation also allows him to activate a power called Vampire Vision, which offers a sort of X-ray/infrared view of the surrounding world. You'll use this to easily pick out glowing yellow grunt-level enemies -- uzi-wielding Harpies, and blade-chucking Fiends -- amidst crowds of regular humans.
This is important too, watching out for those seemingly average Joes and Janes. Cole's transformation requires him to perform some pretty horrific acts, and so Sucker Punch did away with the game's Karma system. This might make you think that collateral damage is no longer a concern, but that only lasts for as long as it takes you to meet your first Firstborn.
The Firstborn are tall, bipedal, bat-like creatures that disguise themselves as humans. You can only detect them -- at least initially -- in Vampire Vision. When the viewing mode is active, you can clearly see the network of veins running through the body of a regular human; a Firstborn's silhouette, on the other hand, will be completely empty. Once you have one singled out, it's actually possible to get up behind it and perform a stealth kill with your stake, Festival of Blood's new melee weapon.
If you should happen to accidentally damage a disguised Firstborn in some way, it will immediately change from its human form into its more monstrous one. These guys don't mess around, striking at Cole with a damaging sonic attack and streams of razor bats. Even worse, it can bite nearby pedestrians and turn them into hostiles. Firstborn are tough too; when you face one, you'll see a boss-style health bar at the bottom of the screen. Taking them out should be a priority.
This being an inFamous game, Cole's powers will improve as the story unfolds. While the basic suite of Shadow Swarm/Vampire Vision/Bite abilities won't change, the range of things you can do with them will. One example is a Shadow Swarm upgrade called Swarm Stake that will allow players to ram enemies while flying, with Cole automatically reverting to human form and running them through with his stake.
The city of New Marais has also undergone some changes since we last saw it. The entire Festival of Blood story unfolds against the backdrop of Pyre Night festivities. While large swaths of the city are basically unchanged from inFamous 2, there's are some additions along the elaborate parade route winding through the city that lend a distinct Halloween flavor to the proceedings.
There's also a brand new area to explore beneath the city, the Catacombs. I didn't get to see much of the interior location, but it appears to be quite large, with open, high-ceilinged rooms connected by a system of subway tunnels. The vampires nest down here, so resistance is heavy. Cole will also be able to dip into Vampire Vision to find Runes scattered throughout the underground, all of which can be interacted with to fill in new parts of the background story.
In addition to the Festival of Blood-specific content, Sucker Punch will also be releasing an update on October 25 that affects both inFamous 2 and the DLC pack. While I didn't get to sample it during the demo, the game and its add-on will both offer support for Move controls. It's nothing overly elaborate; you'll simply now be able to use the wand portion of the motion controller to do your aiming.
Even more exciting is a new mission creator feature that will allow fans to build 2D comic book-style cutscenes into their creations. I unfortunately did not get to see this new feature in action either, but you won't be building your scenes from a canned selection of backdrops, characters and objects. Instead, you'll literally frame a scene in the game's 3D landscape and then shoot a picture of it, watching as it is magically transformed into a 2D comic book image. This promises to add a whole new level of depth to the UGC in both inFamous 2 and next week's DLC. One important thing to note, however: creations in one will not be usable in the other, due to the differing set of art assets used for both games.
That really doesn't matter though. Festival of Blood packs in such a tremendous amount of content for $10 that the story, city exploration, and especially UGC could keep a player busy indefinitely. The retroactive additions to inFamous 2 are welcome news as well, but Sony and Sucker Punch have laid out some very good reasons to get excited for next week's DLC release. Look for Festival of Blood in the PlayStation Store on October 25.