With the first inFamous, Sucker Punch crafted the classic super hero origins tale. What happens when a once ordinary man becomes extraordinary? The answer was an entire city gets wrecked by electricity, and said man spends a lot of time slinking around sewers, evidently.
In the follow up, the game’s central character, Cole MacGrath, is already acquainted with his powers. The goal, Sucker Punch says, is to take it to the next level in inFamous 2. Players begin as super hero, but as the game progresses, Cole will receive even more extraordinary powers than he could have ever dreamed of. As the game’s director Nate Fox puts it, you’ll become a “super super hero.”
This means new abilities, upgraded combat techniques, and faster, more efficient methods of travel using a mixture of electricity abilities and acrobatic parkour. With this also comes a new city and, at least on the surface, an all new Cole.
To that last point, and let’s get this out of the way right now, this isn’t really an all new Cole. Yeah, he looks and sound completely different -- overall, it’s safe to say he has a “softer” and more youthful feel. He’ll be voiced by Eric Laden, a television actor who’s no newcomer to videogames; you may have heard him as Nick in Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2. The change, Sucker Punch says, is because the sequel required both voice and motion capture work concurrently; the original voice of Cole did voice work only. It was a difficult judgment call, one that had to be made for technical reasons that the developer believes will ultimately benefit the project.
Sucker Punch co-founder and inFamous 2 producer Brian Flemming hints that the Cole of inFamous 2 we see today could change in appearance before the game ships, which is well over a year away. He calls inFamous 2 in its current state the “mid-point on a two-year journey.”
“We do read the blogs, and we know that there’s a little swirl around the changes we made in the character,” he says. “We super appreciate and respect the feedback of the fans. We absolutely aware of the feelings people have about the character, and that’s super important to us. We’re a creative group, and even over the objections of some of our Sony producers, we have changed a fair amount about Cole, and we’re looking hard at that.”
New look, same feel. inFamous 2 picks up where the original left off, Cole blamed for the devastation of Empire City and the birth of a seemingly indomitable evil known only as “The Beast.” No match for the overpowering entity, Cole travels to the New Marais, a New Orleans-inspired city and the apparent source of his powers. His hope is to harness even more powers, upgrading his abilities to use against “The Beast” and to save mankind. Easier said than done, as New Marais is overrun by a group known as “The Militia,” a vigilante group who’s taken a hard-line stance against non-humans and those with remarkable abilities.
“They’re kind of like the KKK meets Batman,” jokes game director Nate Fox.
In the hands off demo we’re shown, we see a real-time cut-scene of a Militia rally being led by a southern aristocrat named Bertrand; picture a seething Colonel Sanders with an attitude. He shouts at a crowd, talking down non-humans, specifically Cole, who slips into the mob unnoticed and watches on.
“The devil walks among us,” Bertrand howls with a thick Southern drawl, a gun-toting Militia stand by. “Cole McGrath, the electric man.”
A monster, a non-human freak with crab-like claws and gaping, nasty maw looks on; it sees an opening, and attacks. All hell breaks lose as the Militia takes aim at the creature. The crowd scatters, and as Cole jumps into the fracas, Bertrand takes off running. Here’s where we get our first peek at the game’s melee combat. While the original was all combat from a distance, Cole now carries a weapon, an electric two-pronged wand that he carries on his back when not in use. The melee is fast-paced and fluid -- Cole swings the wand into a group of enemies, knocking them backwards; he kicks them up into the air and then smashes them back down with the electrically-charged weapon. At one point, we see him slide kick into an enemy, as the game goes into slow motion to get a better view of the action.
Cole pursues Bertrand through the streets as the aristocrat speeds off in a vehicle, and we get to see a lot of familiar world navigation and combat in action. Cole skids across power lines and glides through the air, for instance. He also uses his powers to shimmy more quickly across ledges, electricity propelling him along. He meets resistance along the way, Militia firing at him from all angles; Cole uses his electricity powers to blast them from afar, collapsing parts of the environment in the process.
Cole finally catches up to Bertrand, hopping on the hood of his vehicle for a quick conversation before a helicopter swoops by, knock him off into the street. The game camera shifts, following Cole from the front as the chopper pursues him down the road. It fires rockets and machines guns, tearing up pieces of the city in the process. Cole turns to the helicopter and demonstrates a new power, an electrical storm which creates a whirlwind that pulls up cars and debris before finally bringing the helicopter down with a crash.
The demo ends with a tease, Cole not out of the woods just yet, as we see a massive shadow of a creature causing havoc off in the distance.
“It is always something,” quips Cole, as the demo fades to black.
As a fan of the original, it’s great to see that Sucker Punch is doing everything it can to take the sequel to the next level. With more abilities and combat opportunities as well as a bigger, more varied environment in New Marais, I’m finding it difficult to not already declare that Sucker Punch has a winner on its hands with inFamous 2.