Interview: Sucker Punch on inFamous 2

The unseasonably warm weather in London has many benefits but really doesn’t help when you’re rushing through Soho, laptop strapped to your side, trying very hard not to be late to play inFamous 2 and have a chat with producer Brian Fleming. If only I had a handy rucksack and the ability to clamber over buildings rather than plough elbow-to-face through the post-wedding tourists.

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Talking of faces, the first question I had to ask Brian was about Cole’s redesign. When the revamped Cole arrived there were rumours the character was altered due to pressure from fans who disliked Cole’s appearance. These fans then complained again at the new design so he regenerated again, this time closer to his original appearance.

“We knew when we finished the first game we were going to change Cole’s outfit for the sequel,” said Brian, “That jacket is too heavy for the warmer climate of New Marais. We also knew that for the cut scenes within inFamous 2 we wanted to get really close in to the characters faces –  so close that just their eyes fill the screen – so all the models from inFamous 1 have been rezzed up so they look really good. We have adjusted Cole’s appearance so he can emote, we’re using motion capture so the face had to be just right.”

And emote he does, during my brief playtime with the game a cut scene features a convincingly threatening Cole telling his new companion, Kuo, in no uncertain terms that he is  going to get new powers – no matter what. It’s well acted and successfully conveys the underlying theme of the game  – Cole can easily turn to the dark side. When the cut scene ends there is a smooth, seamless transition in to game play. ‘Smooth’ is a good description of  game as Sucker Punch have taken a lot of time to refine the smallest of details including the cut scenes, user interface and loading times. “We wanted to make the time between you placing the disc in the drive and actually playing the game as small as possible,” explains Brian.

It’s not just Cole who has had a graphical make over, the entire engine has had a massive overhaul. It looks gorgeous and runs very smoothly, the brighter more colourful landscape of New Marais a striking contrast to the desolated cityscape of inFamous.

The city doesn’t just look good, it crumbles in spectacular fashion. Tossing an energy grenade on the fire escape above an enemy will bring it crashing down on his unsuspecting head, whilst in an earlier portion of the game I had to sink a traditional paddle steamer.

The graphic novel style cut scenes return and are more vibrant than ever before, once again benefiting from the enhanced colour palette of New Marais.

Having completed the original title as both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Cole I asked Brian if owners of the first game would be rewarded with an extra treat if they purchase the sequel – I was expecting a ‘no’ but it turns out I was wrong.  “There is a carry through from the save files from inFamous 1, they will give you additional benefits when you start they game. It’s nothing too powerful as we did not want to penalise those who had played the previous game, but it’s a little extra.”

Going back to the original title I told Brain that I found completeing the game as ‘bad’ was much easier than trying to be good as Cole was penalised for hurting any of the general public. Earning ‘good karma’ took more time than beating a couple of old ladies to death. “Cole now has perks,” explains Brain, “One of the ‘good perks’ will reduce the damage to any members of the public who get in the way of  a firefight. Both campaigns are equally exciting and have many signature moments.”

Zeke returns as your best bud so I asked if Sucker Punch had ever considered co-op. “I think that’s a conversation any developer has these days – do we do co-op, multi player, something along those lines?” mused Brian. “We considered everything but decided we didn’t really have anything to say in the multi-player arena, it just did not work in our universe. When we saw the LittleBigPlanet unveil we were amazed and decided to try user generated content. You know Kevin Butler? We mocked up our own Kevin Butler advert in house to sell the concept of user content, then showed it to Sony. They said, ‘You’d be stupid if you did not do this!’ – so we did. Sony were and continue to be incredibly supportive. ”

“LittleBigPlanet had their user content and then Modnation Racer guys did there version but this is our take on user generated content. We say, ‘There have been sandbox games, but we’re giving you the bucket and spade!'”

I admitted that I’ve only spent a brief few minutes trying out the inFamous 2 beta but wondered with thousands of levels available how will they all fit on the map? “If you are a casual user then you will see the ‘featured’ missions picked out by Sucker Punch. Levels will be rated by users and and any missions that gets a sufficiently high rating will be played by someone at Sucker Punch. If we like it, it will become ‘featured’ content and appear as one of the 100 default user generated missions.”

“However you can also search and sort content by the type of missions – and various other details  – so you can filter down and find exactly what you want. There has been all sorts of crazy content already, Space Invaders, bowling, ski-ball. I’m really looking forward to seeing what is created as obviously I know all of the missions in the main game but it will be so exciting loading up a mission created by someone else and play the game as a user.”

Missions created in the current PSN beta will be available from day one of release but they are located on just one island of the game. “It will be interesting to see how fast the other islands are populated – you have to unlock them in the game,” said Brian.

Sadly, the nice lady from Sony said my time was up but from what I’ve seen, inFamous 2 is going to be rather special. Thanks to Brian Fleming for his time, and the team from Sony.

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15 Comments

  1. Rather looking forward to this, and also seeing what is created by users with the crazily flexible (but, if you ask me, even more complex than LBP) creation tools.

  2. This is going to be fantastic, I love the idea of the game, and the way the game plays, the controls of the beta make the game feel “just right”

    • Sadly I’m still awaiting the return of PSN to get the beta downloaded.

      • I am awaiting the return of PSN because…it’s boring without it

  3. Great stuff… Made me all the more excited about the game now.
    I’m even considering going back to the first one to complete my evil play through…

    • Evil is a lot more fun and as mentioned above it feels more powerful as you can just destroy everything and not have to worry about the consequences.

      The Beta has really impressed me, they’ve really squeezed out a lot more graphically and also from a gameplay perspective there is a lot more to see and do this time around. The short time I played of the beta before the PSN went down the user content seemed quite dull. Kill X, go here and survive so long, etc. However, like LBP I’m sure once people get the hang of it the beauty of the system will shine through.

  4. I’m pretty excited about this. Sounds great from the article. The user generated content will be great I’m sure.

  5. Unlockable islands, again!? This game is starting to look quite good however. I hope the good/bad is better in this game as in InFamous it was (in my opinion) poor – same game, red powers instead of blue for the bad guy.

  6. Looks really good. Interview has me even more interested. Hope the game gets good reviews and sells well.

  7. Can’t wait to try the user generated content. Hope it gets a good response.

  8. Bloody awesome. I can see myself buckling and picking this gem up very soon after launch. Cheers, tc.

  9. Beyond cool.

    • yep first one was great looking forward to the second big time.

  10. Missions created in the current PSN beta will be available from day one of release.

    oh good, so the PSN will be back in a month?

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