Two years ago, I went to developer Sucker Punch's offices in Washington and became the first person from the outside world to play Infamous. This week, I returned and became the first person to play an Infamous 2 mission called "The Sacrifice." The honor might not be as great, but the feeling after putting down the controller is just the same.
I want this game.
If you didn't finish the original Infamous, Cole MacGrath is our hero (or antihero depending on how you played), has electricity-based powers, and discovered there was a world-ending threat known as the Beast coming for him. Although we haven't seen it, the Beast arrives at the beginning of Infamous 2, hands Cole his ass, and the beaten hero heads to New Marais (a New Orleans-like city). Here, he'll deal with the locals who don't want supers in their midst and try to enhance his powers so he'll have a chance against the Beast.
Got all that? Good, but because I want to talk about the Sacrifice and the three reasons it got me excited for Infamous 2 -- as well as the one concern it raised.
The story in the original Infamous clicked for me, but one of the complaints people had with it was that the presentation of conversations and missions could be a bit ho-hum. Cole just stood there and moved his mouth at Zeke or whomever he was talking to. The comic cutscenes were compelling, but the in-engine conversations were flat.
If the rest of the game is like the Sacrifice, that shouldn't be an issue in Infamous 2. The mission started with me fighting my way to a dock in the swamp and finding a woman named Sarah hung by the wrists at the end of the water. Seems some folks think a human sacrifice will keep away the monster known as the Devourer. Cole doesn't see it this way, so it's our job to cut her down and escort her back to the rebels her father -- a man named LaRoche -- is in charge of.
When I got Sarah there, the father/daughter reunion lasted just a minute or so before the massive Devourer rolled into town, but it really showed me how far Sucker Punch has come at visual storytelling. There were over-the-shoulder camera angles, the facial expressions and lip syncing were spot on with the dialogue, and this is ignoring the gravity of a situation that had me free an innocent woman that villagers were going to feed to a monster.
Still, it was when the Devourer popped up that I was sold on what the developers were doing. Cole set his sights on it, LaRoche began trying to talk him out of fighting it, and the hero just kept staring at the Devourer before giving LaRoche an "Uh-huh, yeah" and dismissing the worthless coward with a wave of his hand.
Cole owning the fact that he's a badass? Yes, please.
If you haven't watched the video above, you haven't seen the Devourer. He's this massive hulk who stomps around on all fours, spits acid balls or whatever, and snatches you with his tongue before pulling you into his mouth.
Taking him down meant relying on some of Cole's new powers, but that was a bit odd for me. Cole had a whole bunch of super-moves in the original Infamous (and those are all back for this sequel), but I don't remember using them all that much. My method of attack had me standing at a distance and spamming the shock button while occasionally throwing an electricity grenade. The jolts didn't waste my juice and got the job done.
Sucker Punch is focused on making us as players feel powerful in Infamous 2. There are 50 powers for Cole to tinker with, and after playing for a bit, I can already tell I'm going to be experimenting like mad.
The Kinetic Pulse allowed me to levitate a car and then fire it off like a bullet -- I could even stand on the car, lift it, and fire it out from underneath Cole's feet. The Bolt Stream allows Cole to spray out mini-blasts of electricity like a machine gun, the Ionic Drain sucks the lifeforce from the bad guys around Cole, and the Firebird Strike has Cole fly for a brief second before exploding out in a burst of electricity.The coolest power addition, though, isn't even a power; it's the quick-switch option. At any time in the game, I could hold left on the d-pad and assign the unlocked abilities to a button on the fly. I could try the napalm grenades, get sick of them, and easily assign an electrocution grenade without having to jump through menu hoops
Trying to preview user-generated content is... well, it's really hard because you haven't made anything yet. That'll change when theInfamous 2 beta goes live this month, but to whet my appetite,Sucker Punch had a few tester-created missions for me to tinker with.
When this mode debuted at GDC, I played through a shooting gallery and an assault mission. They were fun, but they were also pretty much what I expected from user-created Infamous content. What I got during this visit wasn't.
One mission had me walk into a section of New Marais that Zeke invited me to -- it was a dance party. Non-playable characters were getting down under a disco ball made of light, but then the disco ball came alive and started disintegrating people. Cole had to spring into action, use Kinetic Pulse to levitate and hurl propane tanks into the monstrosity, and then take down a boss.
It was goofy, but it wasn't as goofy as the game of memorization I played. Here, a grid of wood pallets was laid out and on each pallet, a villain or a civilian stood. After a few seconds, the pallets reset in the sky, and I had to remember which ones had bad guys on them and shoot them down. Hit a civilian, and the mini-game was over.
When I'm done brawling with monsters and preparing for the Beast in Infamous 2, these creations are going to be welcome distractions -- remember, they appear on your in-game map while you're playing the real game.
Completing these creations gave me experience points to spend on Cole's powers, and Sucker Punch is aware of what a slippery slope this is. People could easily come up with missions that start, immediately end, and award players with hundreds of points. I asked the developers how they're going to stop that, and the simple answer was that they're going to watch what you do and figure it out. The beta is going to be the testing ground to see how users break the tool, and from there, the system will get its wrinkles ironed out.
Before I go any further with my one concern and have Sony or Sucker Punch hunting down my dog for retribution, I'll be the first to point out that this isn't the final version of the game -- this is still a work in progress, so bugs are to be expected.
Anyway, the only thing I was worried about was the camera during melee fighting. Using the amp -- that electrified, cattle prod-looking thing -- is a blast. You wail on bad guys, a meter charges up, and hitting Triangle unleashes a finishing move. Still, there were a few times when I unleashed a finishing move close to a building or in a tight space, and the camera wigged out and clipped through something.
Again, it only happened once or twice, but with worthwhile melee being one of the big additions to Infamous 2, it made me wonder.
The original Infamous is one of my favorite games on the PlayStation 3. Do I think Infamous 2 will live up to the original? Well, it's always hard to say when you just get to spend a few hours with a game, but I'd say "hell yes." There are more moves, New Marais with its varying buildings and rooftops looks way more interesting than Empire City, and the new focus on camera work and presentation is interesting.
Even though I'm impressed by little stuff like "evil" Cole's ratty red t-shirt and the fact that easy karma points pop up on the in-game radar now, we'll all need to wait for a final verdict as we get closer to Infamous' June 7, 2011, release date and IGN's review.
What do you think? Does Infamous 2 look awesome or like something you wouldn't want to play. Let me know in the comments below.
AWESOME INTERVIEW!!!! NEW FOOTAGE ^_^