The first Infamous was accepted with praise when it debuted in the gaming world back in 2009. It was commended for its exciting gameplay, great graphics and engaging story. It was not without its faults, however, and the folks over at Sucker Punch know that better than anybody. There have been super-hero games before and after Infamous, but there really aren’t any other electricity based super-heroes out there, giving Infamous quite a bit of freedom in not only exploring new territory, but reshaping not just the super-hero genre, but the 3rd person action adventure game genre in general.
Infamous 2 picks up right where the first one left, but if you missed it, I won’t be spoiling anything here. Basically, Cole McGrath (the main protagonist that the player controls) got some fancy super-powers from this thing called the Ray Sphere. In his journey to discover what it is, where it came from, etc. he runs into trouble though, as any hero often does. In the second game you travel to a new city, meet new people, gain new powers and face new enemies. The game itself hopes to improve upon the original in every way and hopefully offer a few new things people might not be expecting. It is being developed by Sucker Punch and published by Sony Computer Entertainment America, just like the first game.
The game is getting a very nice face lift. The original Infamous looked great, and the sequel is definitely continuing that same art style. The story behind Cole’s slight transformation is pretty interesting. In the first game Cole was a little difficult to become attached to as his anti-hero, cool guy that talks like a badass persona was a little overplayed and his visual style was a little bland. They tried to send him through the other side of the character-making machine again and got something radically different. Below on the left is Cole from Infamous one, compared to the original concept for Cole in Infamous 2 on the right:
As you can see they ditched pretty much everything stylistically from the first game except for the fact that he’s white and still has the little bike messenger bag going on. Besides that, they pretty much tried to start from scratch. There was a large outcry about this however and they went back to the drawing board (literally) and came back with something fresh, yet still remniscent of the Cole people were already comfortable with:
The biggest differene is how much more pissed off he looks now. Also, the satchel has switched sides and you can see tattoos on his arms instead of a long sleeved vest. Based on a Game Informer article, they have confirmed he has switched hands for his basic electricity bolt and now shoots from his left hand. The engine in general has seen an upgrade so that everything just flows a lot better and everything will just pop more on the screen. The new city, New Marais is also a welcome improvement as the last city (Empire City) was a bit drab and dull and suffered from an overly simplistic design. It was amazing being able to zip around the city, using your parkour skills and exploring, but everything sort of looked the same and felt less engaging. New Marais has many more varied locales and showcases a much more upbeat setting, contrasted by the destruction that is sure to befall it.
One final note to make here is that the comic-book styled cut-scenes of the first games are gone in favor of actual cut-scenes. This is good, in my opinion, because we get to actual see Cole as a character and get to know him as a real person. It is much more engaging to see the emotion from a character and see them move and interact, rather than just dubbed voices on still images. Additionally, Cole’s voice is changes to be less raspy and depressing all the time, but still has the same style.
The core of the gameplay design remains unchanged as it is still an electricity based, mostly ranged combat, super-hero action adventure game. There will be lots of new offensive powers (as see from trailer you can summon some type of mega tornado of electric awesomeness called an “Ionic Vortex” and can telepathically launch cards at baddies. Well, I’m sure it’s not telepathy but more like electro-control or something.) You can also expect new travel powers, in addition to hovering and travelling along power lines and railroad tracks, you can zip up metal pipes along the sides of buildings and channel your power to launch Cole quickly into the air.
In addition to new powers, you can expect lots of other changes to the gameplay. First and foremost: instead of the basic melee combat of the first game, you now have an actual melee weapon that looks sort of like a tuning fork. To make up for some of his past mistakes, your buddy Zeke makes it for you. There are a lot more option in melee combat now and it is looking fantastic. This approach was taken with everything in the game, and as Chris Zimmerman, stated in a recent talk with Game Informer:
It wasn’t obvious that we would take something that in the first game worked pretty well, that people were excited about, that people thought that was a step forward, and tear it apart and re-do it, but we did. We did that with everything. It wasn’t obvious that we wanted to add the melee weapon, right? This is not something that most superheroes have. They don’t mostly carry around weapons, but we were like, “Well, we need to try. We need to see how that works. We need to put it in the game, put a good effort at it and see whether it makes the game better.” And it did. There was some things that didn’t make the game better, and we’re not showing those today, those don’t see the light of day, but you have to get to that, you have to keep working on everything. Improving the stuff that worked in the last game to make it better.
Also, they hope to revamp boss encounters especially. In the previous games most bosses were more like entities that were disconnected from you and the rest of the level. They were battles or events, they did not feel organic or really part of the actual game. Chris Zimmerman describes this further:
With the bosses, we didn’t want to do “boss battles” we wanted it to feel like the bosses were real, that they were in the city with you. We’re guilty of the same thing. We did a “boss battle” where we had a giant robot on the other side of the bridge and there’s a gap you can’t jump across, and you’re firing at him and he’s firing at you. Guilty. I’ve done that. I admit it. We didn’t want to do that again. We wanted to do things where it felt like the bosses were in the city with you.
This is great news as that was most definitely my least favorite boss fight from the original. The final boss, on the other hand, felt much more interesting and engrained in the world instead of a separate set piece moment. Organic fights are always much better.
User Generated Content
One of the most exciting features of the new Infamous is the inclusion of user generated content. Game Informer was treated with the chance to get a small taste of what it is capable in their experience with four created levels. The four levels displayed a nice array of possibilities with an escort mission, a tower defense type mission, a mission that felt like a shooting gallery and finally a racing side mission. It is encouraging to see that there is such a nice variety of possibilities and it will definitely be interesting to see what users can do with tools in this type of game. User created content is starting to become more and more popular, especially on console games, as mods have been around since the dawn of time on PC essentially. Another great piece of information is the fact that the missions that are highly regarded and receive the best ratings, etc will automatically be streamed into players worlds and mixed right in with the other side missions. Additionally, there will be some sort of experience-based system, but further details are a little unclear.
The first Infamous had a basic morality system in place in the form of making good or evil choices. This worked fine as any major mission pretty much could be completed based on one of these two paths and it would influence your karma towards the red (evil) or the blue (good.) It did, in fact, have plenty of overarching consequences however. If you were on the good side of the spectrum, your electricity showed blue and you unlocked an entirely separate set of powers and upgrades. Same went for the evil side, but your electricty showed red. Additionally, the more evil you got, you began to look evil and just started to feel evil. In Infamous 2, the issue of morality is approached a bit differently. Instead of clear cut good or evil choices and consequences, the player is faced with aligning with one of two NPC characters. Joystiq explains this a bit further:
The girl on the left, Nix, is “a New Marais native” that becomes a “hedonistic guide that coaxes Cole into not thinking about the consequences of his actions.” Yes, she is the evil one. We’re proud of you for figuring that out! The suited woman on the right is Kuo, an “NSA agent working to help Cole defeat the Beast,” and represents the “good” choices offered in Infamous 2.
This will hopefully give a different feel to the game as you are forced to consider another person, how it affects them, their motives, and how that relates to you, as opposed to simply which side you want your karma meter to tip. And finally, another interesting addition is the face that players will be able to do assist powers with them. Nix, the evil girl, has fire powers and Kuo, the good girl, has ice based powers. It will be interesting to see how this is integrated into gameplay.
This game is really looking to be a fantastic game that should definitely be in the top few games on any gamer’s radar. The first game was great and really fun, but this game is shaping up to be something extraordinary. And finally, a new trailer of the game was just released and shows lots of new gameplay footage, new enemies, new combat moves and most importantly: a new street-side store. Yes, a highlight of this new trailer is a store. Why, you ask? Well, this trailer shows an electronics store by the name of “Red Ring Electronics” which could in all honesty be a 100% coincidence (unlikely) or, it could be a funny little jab at the infamous 360 error. For the sake of amusement, I like to believe the latter. You can see the full trailer here.
Cole will be coming to PS3’s June 7th of 2011 and will hope to be shocking fans and critics alike (pun intended.) I am sure I missed some details, or forgot to include certain aspects of the game. Feel free to comment below!
All sources have been cited within the article. If something is not cited, it is knowledge I have gained based on lots of reading about the game and is probably based on information from the print version of the Game Informer magazine.