Ok, so what I’m going to do here is a little unusual for me. I’m going to talk about a video game, but more specifically, I’m going to talk about a hypothetical video game. Now, the first thing you should have done before reading this is played the first Infamous. It’s a PS3 exclusive game from 2009, and one of my favourite games of all time. If you haven’t played it, I highly recommend you do so. Also, I’m going to be spoiling the shit out of it, and since it’s really a much better game if you don’t know the ending, I’m really going to stress that you shouldn’t read this if you haven’t played it.
Anyway, so if you’re familiar with the first game you’ve probably played or at least are aware of Infamous 2. I hate Infamous 2. To be fair, it’s a pretty fun game. But it’s just such an insult to the original. See, for me what makes Infamous so great isn’t just the fluid controls and interesting gameplay, it’s the tone and story. I think it’s one of the best superhero stories of the last decade, and if it was a graphic novel I would make a point of re-reading it at least once every year. It’s dark and cool and has a really interesting setting. The second game throws all of this out this window.
You see, the first game was set in the fictional Empire City, which was in quarantine following the explosion that gave the main character his powers. It’s been several weeks, and the city has completely decayed without any government involvement. Buildings crumble, people lie dying in the streets, and the city is controlled by violent gangs. It’s up to you to take control of the city and depending on your choices throughout the game, either save it or plunge it deeper into darkness. The setting offers a great opportunity for a dark and macabre tone throughout the whole game. At the very end, you find out that the main bad guy is actually you from the future, and he came back to prepare you for a “beast” who will destroy the world. It’s a really great ending, and it leaves you with this chilling feeling of what is to come.
Then the second game comes along and systematically ruins all of those things within the first ten minutes. The opening cutscene quickly explains that the quarantine has been lifted and everything in Empire City is just peachy now. Then the game starts, and the first thing that happens is “The Beast” shows up, and instead of whatever infinitely cool and all powerful destroyer we had in our minds after the end of the first game, he’s just a big red guy who shoots fire. And the very first thing he does is destroy Empire City. Then you go to a new city which is basically New Orleans, and you spend the whole game in this colourful vibrant setting full of happy people and fight stupid insect monsters the whole game, until eventually the Beast returns and you either join him or kill him.
What really bugs me about it is that the end of Infamous set so many things up for a sequel, and opened the door for so many interesting concepts to be explored, and the second game just throws it all out the window and tells a completely different story. Not that there’s anything wrong with a sequel being vastly different from the original, but when you chuck out every single positive aspect and replace it with bullshit you’re bound to piss a few people off. So now that I’ve spent a really long time explaining why I don’t like Infamous 2, let me talk about what I think a sequel to Infamous should have looked like. Let’s pretend the first game just came out, and this is me pitching the plot for a sequel.
So we open in Empire City, and though the first game only showed the first few weeks of the quarantine, it’s now been going on for months, maybe even years. And in that time things have changed a lot. After defeating Kessler, Cole has taken over the city. Now, depending on your karmic alignment at the end of the first game, you are either a feared dictator who rules with an iron fist, or a noble protector who leads the people in a positive manner. Either way, the Reapers, Dustmen, and First Sons are all gone and the whole city belongs to Cole, who has his own army of the people that he is building in preparation for the Beasts’ arrival.
The government has all but abandoned the city at this point. They’re still after a super weapon, and with the ray sphere gone they want to use Cole. But right now he’s too dangerous and unpredictable, so they’ve decided to leave him contained in Empire City until they need him. As long as he doesn’t try to escape, they’re cool.
So the beginning of the game is just you going around the city, maintaining your rule, maybe squashing the occasional insurrection, and then suddenly John re-appears. Just like in the real Infamous 2, he survived the ray sphere explosion and now has superpowers. But in my version he’s not an all powerful god of destruction, but more like Cole was at the beginning of the first game; lost and confused about his new gifts. Cole finds him and you spend some time teaching him to use his powers and training him.
But he hasn’t forgotten about his old life, and begins looking into what happened with the CIA and stuff. He finds out that Alden survived from the first game, and went to Moya with his knowledge about Kessler. Now, he and Moya have re-formed the First Sons as part of the government and are working on another ray sphere. Cole is worried that the new ray sphere is what will create the Beast, and so they have to somehow stop it from being made.
So you’re going to lead your army against Washington, but that’s when it turns out you’ve been infiltrated. The CIA has been sending men into Empire City since Day 1 of the quarantine, and your whole army is full of G-Men sent to keep an eye on you. When Moya hears you talking about leaving the quarantine, she give the order for them to put you down, and you end up in a city full of government agents trying to kill you. At this point we’re about a third of the way through the game, and the first act climax is you and John busting through the quarantine.
At this point I’d like to take a minute to talk about Zeke. See, in the first game I thought he was an interesting character, and I was curious to see where his relationship with Cole went after fucking him over on Alden’s tower. Then the second game decided to just act like that never happened and have them continue to be best friends. I think that Zeke should spend the first part of the second game trying to regain Cole’s trust, and at the end of the first act when you’re leaving the city, you should have to make your decision about him. The good choice is to take him with you and John, and the evil choice is to leave him for dead. If you choose to take him, he is shot down and killed while breaking through the quarantine, so either way he’s gone from the game.
Anyway, back to the story. So now Cole and John are out of the quarantine and you wish Empire City goodbye as you begin your journey across the country to Washington, D.C. This is where the game changes format a little, as you lose the free-roam city element while on route. So the entire middle portion of the game is you travelling from town to town, encountering other conduits and being pursued by government agents. It’s during this period where maybe we can meet some of the new characters from the second one, like Nix or Quo. But it’s not all good. As you travel, cities you stop in end up getting destroyed by your actions, and with the quarantine broken the Empire City plague has spread. Lots of civilians are being killed, but Cole keeps reminding himself that it’s for the greater good. Destroying the ray sphere and preventing the coming of the Beast is all that matters.
Either way by the end of the second act you and John have reached Washington, and that’s when the shit really hits the fan. See, they know you’re coming, and they’ve prepared. The whole city has been turned into a policed state, where civilians have been evacuated and the army is all over the place. The level of destruction and chaos is reminiscent of Empire City during the quarantine. This becomes the new city to free roam in, and once you beat the game you unlock the ability to switch between it and Empire City.
So the game ends with a big assault on the White House, which has been turned into an army fortress in preparation for your arrival. It’s also where Alden and Moya are keeping the ray sphere. You and John fight your way past the army, fight Alden and destroy the ray sphere. (There’s then a karmic choice about whether or not to kill Moya). Here’s where we get hit with the twist.
See, the first game had an awesome twist ending, but Infamous 2 lacked this. I mean, sure, there’s the reveal that John is alive, but I think it needed to be bigger, because John and the Beast always seemed like a small part of the story in Infamous 2. But now, in this game, John has been with you the whole time, and you’ve been training him from the beginning. And that’s when Cole realizes that John is the Beast, and that he’s been helping him blaze a trail of destruction across the country. And now John is mad with power, and must be stopped.
So the final boss fight is with John, and you kill him at the end, which is an tough decision for Cole since they’ve been partners the whole game, but it must be done. However, it’s too late. The unfathomable destruction caused by the beast has already happened, and you not only failed to stop it, but helped it happen. Kessler came back in time to stop this horrible future from happening, but now, thanks to you, it has anyway. It’s too late, and all is lost. Thus we end the game on the same depressing note as the original, and set up a potential third game with Cole being endlessly hunted by everyone on Earth in a post apocalyptic United States.
So, that’s my version of Infamous 2. If you actually bothered to read all of that, let me know if you think it was better of worse than the actual story of Infamous 2, or how you would continue this story. Unfortunately, none of these suggestions will never happen, but, hopefully, Infamous: Second Son will be good. I don’t have a PS4, so it will be a while before I play it, but I like that they’re starting fresh with a new character and maybe it will even get back to the tone and quality of the first game. For now, though: courage. DICK OUT!