That which does not destroy us: My battle with motion sickness

i2_ScreenShot_Cole_GrindI’m pretty excited about the Playstation 4 that is headed our way in a couple of months, and I’ve been gearing up for it by trying to cut down my ‘pile of shame’ of PS3 titles I’ve wanted to get to.

One of these in Infamous 2. I played through the first Infamous and enjoyed it a lot, and one of the big early releases for the PS4 is Infamous: Second Son, coming some time in early 2014. I bought Infamous 2 when it first came out but somehow got distracted and never got very far.

So when I picked it up again a few weeks ago, I was stoked for another great gaming experience. But I had to bail out of my first session with the game early when motion sickness kicked in hard. I broke out in a sweat and my stomach was threatening to expel i’s contents. I had to go lie down for a while and wait for the feeling to pass.

Infamous 2, in case you haven’t played it, is a really twitchy game. The controls are super-sensitive with a very small dead area on the sticks. Plus there’s a lot of parkour-like climbing that’s made really easy by giving the character feet that tend to stick to anything remotely resembling a rail or a ledge. This means that sometimes your character will jerk a little in one way or another to help you stick a landing, even if you weren’t intending to land.

It makes the game really fun because you can easily do crazy things like jump off a tall building and land on the tip of a light pole, but I think it really aggravated my motion sickness. Just that little lack of control was enough to throw my inner ear into fits.

But I a) really wanted to play the game and b) was really annoyed at this motion sickness thing. As you get older you lose the ability to do more and more of the things you enjoy and dammit, I wasn’t going to lose the ability to play a video game!

So the next day I went back to Infamous 2 and played for all of 5 minutes or so. As soon as I felt a bit of discomfort, I stopped. And I did that again the following night, and the night after. By about the 4th night I was up to 15 minutes or so. At this point if I started to feel a little queasy I’d pause and look away for a few minutes before continuing.

The nice thing about Infamous 2 for this ‘regime’ is that there’s tons of collecting items and simple side quests to do, so I could play for 15 minutes and still feel like I made a little bit of progress.

The body, or at least my body, adapts quickly and now, a few weeks later, I can play as much Infamous 2 as I want without feeling bad. Sometimes after a really intense battle I do have to pause, get up for a drink or to pet the dog or do something other than look at that moving screen for a few minutes, just to let my eyes and stomach ‘settle’ a little, but it’s no biggie now.

I’m just sharing this story in case anyone else out there suffers from motion sickness in gaming. You can overcome it through regular, short-duration play sessions. Don’t let yourself get sick…stop before you do. You don’t want your sub-conscious to develop negative associations to gaming (though that would probably save you a lot of $$)!

I will admit that I now make sure to play at least a little Infamous 2 every other night or so. I’m afraid if I leave it for a week I might back-slide. So even on busy nights I’ll log in and chase now a blast core or break-up a robbery or an abduction or something. Just to stay ‘video game fit.’ 🙂

And I’m glad I did this because Infamous 2 is pretty good so far, and there’ll little references to things I’ve seen mentioned in previews of Infamous: Second Son. By the time that game launches I’ll be ready!

Infamous 2 weekend report (11%)

The downside of E3 is that trying to keep up with all the news can really cut into your gaming time, so between that (and a random sidetrack into Farcry 2 on the Xbox) I’m only 11% of the way through Infamous 2 after my first weekend with the game.

To put that in perspective, I’m still in the first “chunk” of the game, but have gotten past the tutorial sections and into the ‘open world’ parts. I’ve also unlocked the User Generated Content stuff. I’m not sure how the game determines % of completion but I have spent a lot of time chasing down blast cores (you collect these to increase your energy storage capacity…or in other words they give you more ammo between re-supplies) and Dead Drops (audio logs on USB thumbdrives strapped to the legs of pidgins flying around). Plus doing my hero thing of stopping crimes in progress and fighting the evil Militia.

Point is, I’m not rushing through the missions by any stretch of the imagination.

In my first post I worried about the twitchiness of the controls, but as anticipated I’ve become much more comfortable with them now. I do still shove innocent people over now and then, but most of New Marais seems to be in party mode so they’re all pretty laid back about this kind of thing. Hell, I’ve hit a few with electric bolts and once they’ve picked themselves up, they’ll still run over to me and thank me for saving them from the bad guys. They understand collateral damage, I guess (plus I have that Hero Boost that means I don’t do much damage to civilians).

Side missions have started to repeat, but so far I haven’t found anything as tedious as those “Remove the surveillance devices from an apartment building.” missions the first game had. Disrupting the off-loading of supplies from docking ships is the one I’ve had twice, but they’re fun missions. Fighting on boats when water means instant death is always interesting. Though I did get a Trophy for killing a baddie by stepping in the same body of water he was standing in. Electricity charged the whole area and down he went. Evil Karma for that, though..even if it was an accident.

The story hasn’t really taken off yet, but the Dead Drops are really cool if you played the first game, since they fill in a lot of what was going on ‘behind the scenes’ while you were running around chasing Kessler. I’m not sure they’ll be as interesting to folks who hit the series at game #2.

So the most important question: Am I having fun? Well hell yes I am! I’ve gotten back into the grove of grinding power lines, leaping and then hovering over baddies and finally doing a slam into the ground, throwing goons every which way (for example). The people are starting to love me (I’m headed for that full Hero Trophy) and it’s always gratifying to heal a crowd and have them all cheer me afterwards. I’m doing good in New Marais…. but the Militia aren’t the only evil lurking in the streets and I think things are just getting started.

My biggest problem is that I focus so hard on the game and get so into it that I tend to be in a kind of daze for a while after playing it! While that’s bad, it’s also high praise when a game sucks me in like that.

The First Hour: Infamous 2

I have to admit, I don’t finish a lot of games, but Infamous was one that I did, so I was psyched to, for once, start a sequel and be able to import something from the original! When you start up Infamous 2 you can import your Good Karma, your Bad Karma, or just start fresh. I went with Good Karma and it seems like rewards are based on trophies from the first game, rather than a save game file. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, since Infamous gave you a lot of trophies ‘organically.’ By the time I’d finished the game I had 50 or 60% of the trophies and had never chased any, if you know what I mean.

From the import I got a few little perks. A wad of experience to spend on skills, a passive ability that causes my attacks to do less damage to innocent people, and one other thing that obviously didn’t make an impression because I don’t recall what it was. 🙂

So the game starts with a quick overview of what happened in the first title. You, Zeke and a lady spy who is refreshingly not a huge-breasted babe in a leather bikini top, are on a ship getting ready to head to New Marais so you can pick up some new powers; powers you need to take on The Beast. (Of course Zeke insists New Marais is all about the 3 B’s: beer, boob and mechanical bulls.) You’re just about to shove off when the city is attacked! Oh noes! You rush off to fight this new opponent. I won’t spoil everything but by the end of the fight you’ve been drained (ie, lost most of your powers). So this is the big Reset button to start off the game. Time to level up Cole again!

The next section is a very linear transversal of a bunch of docks and small islanads, but it gives you a chance to start familiarizing yourself with the controls. Movement feels super twitchy to me; I almost wish I could tone down the sensitivity a bit. It’s great when running and fighting, but it makes it way too easy to accidentally run full-tilt into an innocent bystander. As I’m playing Cole as a hero, that feels wrong to me. I’m sure I’ll adjust, though.

It took me several attempts to get my grinding/flying/fighting chops back enough that I could pass through this first section. I don’t recall being able to speed up while grinding a wire in the first game, but you can here (by pushing the left stick forward) and you need to if you’re going to make some of the jumps in this section. I fell in the water quite a few times before making it through (since Cole’s powers are all electricity based, water means instant death to him).

I didn’t really mind, though, as replaying this section a few times gave my brain time to recall all the fun stuff you can do in Infamous. Pretty soon I was jumping while tossing electric grenades, grinding rails/wires and sucking the juice out of power consoles, just like old times. It was really fun.

And that’s as far as I got! I never made it to the open world section. So far it seems like a real sequel. Familiar but with some new options layered on (including a melee weapon). There’s still the comic-book cut scenes to set the tone, but there are also CGI cut scenes. That felt a little odd, since the cut-scene characters look so much more detailed than the in-game characters, but now I’m picking nits.

It’ll take me a few days to get used to the pace and the chaos of the game again, but I’m really looking forward to playing more Infamous 2

One hour rating: Buy if you enjoyed the first game. If you didn’t play the first game, get it for free via Welcome Back and play it first. If you didn’t like the first game, stay away from the sequel.

Infamous 2 demo

One of the first things I downloaded when the Playstation Store came back online was the Infamous 2 demo. I loved the first Infamous and not only did I finish it (a rare�occurrence�for me) but I started a 2nd play-through immediately after. �Never finished that, though, as I’d borrowed the game from a friend and had to return it.

Anyway, I was anxious about whether or not Sucker Punch has screwed things up for the sequel (which I already have pre-ordered). �Here’s how it went:

Fired up the demo, watched the intro which recaps the first game without giving away any major spoilers. Nice job with that! Then a quick pre-amble about why we’re going to a city much like New Orleans for game two.

Finally gameplay starts. It’s fast. I just had to think about moving the stick and Cole is running down the road. Fast and smooth…controls feel good but will take a bit of getting used too; it’s been a while since I played a game with such sensitive controls.

I’m supposed to be following an agent down the street, but the first time I see a telephone pole I scramble up it, then run out along the power lines. The agent stops and hollers back at me and I leap off, landing near enough to her that she dives for cover. Heh.

And then we’re taking fire from some thugs on a couple of balconies down the street. I toss a electricity grenade at them. The first grenade takes out about a quarter of a balcony and sends a bad guy flying. Then I change to electricity rockets. They do even more damage, and the uppermost balcony gives way, crashing down onto a lower one and tearing it, too, off the wall. Thugs go flying everyone which way and, back on my couch in the real world, I literally yell out “Oh, HELL YEAH!”

And then I shut down the demo. Sucker Punch hasn’t screwed this one up and it’ll be here next week. No need to spoil things for myself.

I can’t wait!

The first game is available for free to PSN members as part of the Welcome Back deal and in my opinion, it’s the best game they’re offering (yes, I’ve played all five that they’re offering).