After the trailer for “inFamous 2” was recently released, fans of the franchise immediately wanted to hear more details on what's in store for Cole MacGrath. I recently had the opportunity to watch some gameplay and speak with representatives from developer Sucker Punch about where the series is headed next.
The demo shown at a recent E3 session took place in the same French Quarter-inspired setting shown in the debut trailer. While the game's new location obviously evokes the feeling of New Orleans, it is actually called New Marais. “inFamous 2” Game Director, Nate Fox, explained why the development team decided to move Cole south.
“My father grew up [in New Orleans],” said Fox, “He made the town sound larger than life, full of overpowering beauty and scary stuff in dark alleys. What better setting for a superhero story?”
When the demo opened, citizens had gathered at a hate rally, protesting the recent influx of non-humans into New Marais. In the first game, Cole was the only character who had evolved beyond the normal human condition. Sucker Punch made it clear that in “inFamous 2” there are plenty of others who have superhuman abilities.
Standing on the rally's stage was a rather robust gentleman by the name of Bertrand. Swinging a sword around and spouting hate speech, it seems evident that this character will be a main antagonist in the game's story. As Cole and original “inFamous” sidekick Zeke looked on, mutated beings with stitched torsos and sword-like arms suddenly attacked from above. This initiated the first instance of seeing Cole with his new melee weapon.
The melee weapon is a two-pronged, electrically charged device that Cole carries in a holster located on his back when not in use. The melee action itself appeared fluid. For example, Cole would approach an enemy, knock them into the air with a spin kick, then smack them down with his melee weapon. During these melee sequences, the action frequently goes into slow motion a la “Uncharted”.
Speaking of “Uncharted”, I couldn't help but think of Nathan Drake while watching the demo. Cole's new image – the hair, the clothes, even his voice and demeanor – had me thinking of relic hunting more than power line surfing. During one segment, Cole is being chased by a helicopter that is raining bullets down upon him. The chase camera is in front of Cole, forcing the player to avoid anything blocking his path. The action in that sequence, right down to Cole's movements, just felt like “Uncharted”.
Sucker Punch's Co-Founder and “inFamous 2” Producer, Brian Flemming, insisted that Cole's appearance is still in the early stages and that “he's still the same Cole”. Regardless, the game's seeming similarities to “Uncharted” really don't come across as anything negative in how the game plays. Fox spoke briefly about the change in the protagonist's voice, which is now performed by Eric Ladin. You might recognize Ladin as the voice of Ellis in “Left 4 Dead 2”.
“The old Cole was just a voice actor,” said Fox, “since we're getting motion capture we wanted someone who had the physicality and the voice so we can get a more nuanced performance.”
While Cole chased Bertrand down, he performed many of the powers from the first game including riding power lines and hovering. The developers stated that players would start the game with a “wide suite” of available powers. I was happy to hear that “inFamous 2” wouldn't just forget that the first game existed. Furthermore, I was relieved when Fox stated that the development team was exploring the possibility of how the player's actions in the original “inFamous” could port into the sequel.
With a release still estimated to be around a year away, “inFamous 2” will likely go through quite a few changes. There's still quite a few unanswered questions -- the alleged ice ability seen in the trailer was nowhere to be found, for example. I was impressed with what I saw during the demo, but I definitely get the feeling that the game's structure will be much different than the original.
The demo ended with Cole facing a giant monster and it felt as though the enemies in this game will be more supernatural, as opposed to themed human gangs. Of course, there's nothing wrong with fighting monsters, and I'm still confident that Sucker Punch has another great game up their sleeve.