By Marty Mulrooney
Cast your eyes above for me. See that mean looking dude? That is Cole MacGrath from 2009’s Infamous on PlayStation 3! Pretty badass huh? Well, the folks at Sucker Punch Productions obviously didn’t think so. They have decided to completely revamp the character, in both looks and voice, for the sequel. Suffice to say, I think this is a pretty bad idea…
Please, tell me it isn’t just me. To the left is a recently released image of the new version of Cole, who will be appearing in Infamous 2 in 2011. Does this new Cole look anywhere near as badass as the old one? This new art actually seems to have a GTA IV: The Ballad Of Gay Tony vibe more than anything else!
I am really worried about this drastic change. So, why specifically do I think it is a bad idea?
I am not saying that the original design for Cole, or the voicework provided by Jason Cottle, were exemplary. However, Cole was always supposed to be a regular guy in the end and I feel that they got that across pretty well. It would have been interesting to see the same character again in the sequel, to see how he has grown now that he is actually a bona fide superhero. Instead, by totally revamping the character, any changes will seem less natural and clash with what went before. They should have taken their previous effort and built upon them.
Which is why it comes across as lazy storytelling. I loved the original, but I didn’t get completely giddy about it. It certainly had its faults, one of which was some poor characterisation and storytelling. The game was more about the superhero sandbox experience than anything else. It is nice that Sucker Punch want to expand on Cole and address these issues, but they are going about it all wrong. Why even call him Cole? Different city, different looks, different voice actor. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see how the original city had evolved? To see how Cole had grown since we last saw him? Instead, they took the easy route and changed the central protagonist so much that none of that even matters anymore. It may as well be a reboot.
David Sullivan as the new Cole sounds okay, but the personality is way off. In the new trailer, it sounds like they have swapped Cole’s grumpy, world-weary attitude for a more youthful, generic persona. Why?! This seemingly isn’t the same character in anything more than name alone at the moment. It really proves distracting if you have played the original game: these are real inconstancies that starts to niggle at the back of your mind. I am worried it could overwhelm the experience.
One plot point in the original that worked really well was the gradual realisation of who your arch nemesis Kessler actually was. It tied in really well to the original Cole’s design and personality. Now, with the new Cole, keeping the old Kessler is going to really clash in the sequel. Does this mean Kessler will be redesigned as well if he shows up?
Continuity. I know this is obvious, but really… would you enjoy playing the Metal Gear Solid series half as much if Snake’s appearance and voice changed between games? How about if Lara Croft became a blonde American for the next instalment? You may think I am going slightly over the top with my examples, but really, continuity is a sure-fire way of increasing the enjoyment of sequels. The writers at Sucker Punch could have worked hard with the original character and voice actor to update Cole organically and take him in some exciting new directions. Instead, they have likely alienated over half their fan base with their new design. They basically took the easy way out.
Of course, this is all just speculation and personal opinion, hence being posted under the Alternative Musings section. Still, I feel that this was a bad decision by Sucker Punch. Cole may not have been the most well designed or well acted video game character in the world. But fans of Infamous grew to like him all the same. Sadly, I have a sinking feeling that playing as the redesigned Cole in Infamous 2 is only going to make him feel like an imposter to those very same fans.
Infamous 2 is due for release in 2011, only on PlayStation 3.