inFamous was a blast. It just was. I freely admitted to being wrong about my early skepticism, as I found myself engrossed in the surprisingly addictive cross between Grand Theft Auto and a superhero action title that exuded attitude and flash; the sensation of power and capability was most appreciated. This is why inFamous 2 remains near the top of my most anticipated list for 2011…despite my fresh reservations, this time concerning the look and style of the new Cole. I’ll get to that in a minute but for now, we should examine our new environment, Sucker Punch’s inclusion of various elements in a nod to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, and the return of the crowd-pleasing aspects that made inFamous such a well-loved adventure.
At the start of the sequel, Cole is still living in Empire City but The Beast, that massive monster hell-bent on destroying society, pops up and decides to kick the snot out of Cole. Fans will remember that Kessler predicted the arrival of this foe so it probably shouldn’t come as any surprise, but Cole feels beaten and dejected by his humiliating defeat and resolves to become stronger. Therefore, he heads to New Marais, our new playground for inFamous 2 . It’ll remind you of New Orleans and it’s where the First Sons constructed the Ray Sphere, which, if you recall, is the same device that granted Cole his awesome electrical capability. New Marais is a good place to beef up because the entire city is overrun by a new breed of foe; they’ve got mutated arms, grayish skin, and mouths that split in the middle (sort of like those creatures in “Blade II”), and these things pose a formidable challenge to the weakened Cole.
As mentioned, the city boasts a very different look from the standard industrial-like feel of Empire City. You’ll see huge swamp trees lingering on the horizon, for instance, and the overall destructability of the environment has been amped up something fierce: you won’t just shatter the windows of vehicles lining the streets; you’ll pick them up with certain skills and toss them about. Unleashing your growing power on a vulnerable part of particular structures and buildings will cause them to come crashing to the ground and throughout it all, there are legions of freaked-out citizens. In other words, we should be looking at a much more visceral and convincing experience thanks to increased immersion and authenticity, which is awfully appealing to think about. Furthermore, as we’ve heard before, the developers have taken a few hints from Naughty Dog and really worked to polish up the visual presentation. This is why in addition to the standard comic-book like cut-scenes, we’ll also have separate in-game CGI scenes for inFamous 2 that are shaping up nicely.
As for the gameplay, details are a little thin but it seems clear that Sucker Punch isn’t about to annoy inFamous fans by fiddling with a tried-and-true formula. Many of the same powers will return, as will Cole’s speed and nimbleness but on top of that, he’ll have a two-pronged cattle prod that can be used for insane melee attacks. His new “Ultra Moves” prominently feature the tool; simply by pressing Triangle, Cole can unleash a particularly up-close-and-personal assault with the help of his cattle prod. But to add even more flavor and spice to the presentation, the team has increased Cole’s other basic abilities as well. He can glide further (and faster), he can create huge vortexes infused with electricity that suck up anything unfortunate enough to get in its way, and he can even zip along sheer walls by attaching himself to pipes with a cord of electricity. So yeah, bigger and better in just about every possible way…again, with the subjective exception of Cole’s new look.
Sucker Punch has explained Cole’s new appearance and while I understand it, I can’t agree with it. Their description of combining an extreme sports icon with a superhero really doesn’t sit well with me. But provided the gameplay and story is there, I’m sure I’ll get over it, and I have complete faith that we’ll get another completely satisfying product. Other pieces of information we have include the fact that the morality system – choosing between good and bad actions will result in different powers – will be back, but we’re not sure if it will operate in the same fashion. Then there are the new ice-based skills we’ve seen several times in new footage but Sucker Punch hasn’t gone into explicit detail concerning these new additions to Cole’s repertoire. They don’t really need to, though; we know they’ll be there, and they look awesome. Oh, and you may remember those blast shards; the 100% seekers needed to find every last one, and the last few proved intensely annoying to find. Well, these might come back, too.
inFamous 2 is set to release some time next year. The sooner we get a solidified release date, the happier we’ll be.