Forums started crackling with angry comments when it turned out Sucker Punch was re-designing inFamous' Cole MacGrath. Soon enough pictures began surfacing that confirmed our Cole's makeover from the Cole we had come to know into what the Internet dubbed Nathan Drake Cole - a scruffy, tattooed brunette with what seemed to be total facial reconstruction. But Drake Cole was back under the knife as Sucker Punch quickly bowed to fan pressure to create what was then dubbed New Old Cole, the happy medium between old and new. And the game follows a similar enough path, taking inFamous' origin story and extending it, bringing in a slightly more polished combat system and sense of morality than we saw the first time around.
The original inFamous plotline performed one function: to create a modern-day take on becoming a super hero. And with its release we were introduced to Cole, a bike messenger who found himself caught in a city-levelling Ray Sphere explosion, giving him electricity-based super powers in the process.
Director Nate Fox had said of the original that the DC Comics series' DMZ and the 90's Batman arc No Man's Land provided some of the main influences for the game. In fact the first glimpse I get of inFamous 2 is through the same style of comic motifs we saw in the original title. Cutscenes continue to make use of the 2D panel-styled animation to give the game context and it soon becomes clear that Cole's origin story in Empire City has moved on. I'm now taken to the New Orleans-inspired New Marais, which Cole has headed to in order to flee the game's antagonist, the Beast, and enhance his electrical powers.
It's another bustling open-world. I've been left at the top of a building and given an Ezio Auditore-like view of the new town you'll inevitably spend a good portion of the game free-running through, but before I start climbing down nine-storey buildings I'm presented with my first in-game choice. And it's one that Sucker Punch seems most excited to show off.
inFamous offered up a rudimentary in-game morality system, where the drama would grind to a halt and you'd be informed you've reached a kind of moral intersection, at which point you would be forced to decide whether or not to perform a certain action. But morality in this game has been personified. This time around moral decisions are rooted in interactions between Cole and two NPCs who function as stand-ins for the angel and devil on his shoulder. So after you're done scoping out New Marais' skyline you're faced with a decision to follow the moral or immoral path, as designated by two different objectives on your mini-map.
On the good side of things is Kuo, an NSA agent who is trying to work alongside Cole in order to take down the Beast. On the wrong side is Nix, a New Marais resident attempting to take down the Militia, a paramilitary organisation radically devoted to human purity.
Deciding to try things out with Nix I start things off by hijacking a tram car. Cole powers it by continuously shooting its generator with electric bolts, killing pedestrians as he tears through the streets and finally ramming the vehicle into a nearby plantation house that forms one of the main fighting areas between the militia and himself.
The open world aspect has been improved in terms of the effect players have on New Marais. Cole can use his powers to pick up objects, from phone booths to cars, to throw at enemies and destroy the town even further, and similarly melee combat has been honed with the addition of new weapons. While you'll have access to most of the same powers from the original game you'll also be introduced to new tools, one of the more potent of which is the Amp, a cattle prod-shaped pipe that Cole charges with electricity and uses to bludgeon enemies, executing combos while you bounce between melee and long-ranged electrical attacks. And Nix also lends a hand, transporting herself back and forth between militia forces, throwing about balls of fire as you continue to bask in your dark side.
As gaming tries to crawl into its adolescence we hear about this pseudo-morality stuff with increasing regularity. Similarly Sucker Punch has been talking up the importance of the morality system in the new title, reminding us that your evil actions can permanently scar the face of the city while you're battling your way through it. But whether or not it will only prove to be the same song and dance we've heard before is something we'll find out later on down the line.
inFamous 2 is due for release exclusively on PlayStation 3 later this year.