In case there’s still any lingering doubt, let’s clear something up right away: Yes, the tousle-haired, tattooed, teen-voiced superhero you may have seen in the InFamous 2 trailer is Cole McGrath. And no, the game isn’t a prequel. At a special closed-door E3 session, reps from Sucker Punch made it clear they knew the internet isn’t entirely happy with Cole’s redesign – or with his new, younger-sounding voice actor.
Cole’s new look, it turns out, is closer to how Sucker Punch envisioned him originally – not a gruff badass (as actor Jason Cottle portrayed him), but as a more relatable action hero. Oh, and the hair? According to Nate Fox, the game’s director, that’s a tech issue: when they were working on the first game, the developers simply didn’t have the necessary shading technology to render a convincing hairstyle, so they shaved his head. Finally, the new actor is better able to do motion-capture work – necessary for the way the in-game cutscenes are now being directed – so the changes are here to stay.
Cole’s transition from skinhead badass to skinny punk is the least of the changes you’ll see in InFamous 2, and so far all of them – judging by a quick hands-on run through the E3 demo – are for the better. While the game still retains InFamous’ unique look and art direction, it’s now set in a new city, the New Orleans-inspired New Marais. As it turns out, Cole meets The Beast (the monstrous villain hinted at in InFamous’ ending) right at the beginning of InFamous 2. It hasn’t yet been decided whether this confrontation will be playable or will happen in a cutscene, but however it’s presented, The Beast kicks Cole’s ass.
In a bid to become more powerful, Cole heads to New Marais, the city where the artifact that gave him his electrical powers, the Raysphere, was first designed. Once there, he encounters a whole new threat: the Militia, a group described as a cross between the KKK and Batman. Vigilantes dedicated to lynching anyone they don’t see as human (Cole, for example), the Militia have apparently overrun the city.
Their presence, however, is probably also a response to the hulking, blade-armed swamp mutants that interrupted the Militia’s anti-Cole hate rally at the start of the E3 demo, an attack that prompted Cole to fight them as the panicked crowd fled. These are just part of what we’re told will be a far more diverse roster of enemies than the first game boasted; luckily, Cole will have a bunch of new powers at his disposal to combat them (and he won’t lose his old ones in the game’s first 10 minutes, either).
Chief among Cole’s new arsenal is a sword-like weapon, designed by his best friend/sidekick Zeke (who also returns in what already seems like a less-grating form), which he carries around strapped to his back. Evolved from the idea of having Cole carry around a length of pipe to hit bad guys with, the weapon conducts electricity between two poles, and was used to acrobatically smack the mutants down, complete with a couple of dramatic slow-motion takedowns.
It’s certainly a far cry from the first game’s relatively clumsy hand-to-hand combat. Cole’s close-quarters takedowns can also have a destructive effect on his surroundings, something we discovered out later in the demo, when he sword-slammed a Militia goon into the floor of a destructible balcony, causing the whole structure to collapse underneath them.
That’s another cool thing about InFamous 2: Lots more destructible scenery. And in addition to being a lot more smashable, we’re also told that New Marais – like the city that inspired it – will be a much more diverse place to explore than the first game’s Empire City. It’ll also have new ways to get around in a hurry; while Cole still has the ability to rail-grind on powerlines, climb up buildings and float, he can now speed-shimmy across wall-mounted cables and rapidly boost himself up specially charged metal pipes.