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A sense of power: Sucker Punch on inFamous 2

Sucker Punch has big plans for inFamous 2. The message it hammered into press at a recent event in Sydney is that it doesn't want to create inFamous 1.5, but a fresh and exciting experience.

Still, it's easy enough to say you don't want to put out a cash-in sequel - how do you follow through? Sucker Punch's Ken Schramm and Joe Ishikura told us exactly what they want to get out of inFamous 2, and, more importantly, what they wanted the player to get out of it.

“There’s always a different way to encounter an enemy, there’s always a different way to approach something and it’s just something I hope that players know to explore,” Ishikura started.

“With the blast cores and the beast coming, it’s telling you, ‘You’ve got to be more powerful,' and this is one of the ways to make you more powerful.”

“For me it’s very simple,” Schramm agreed. “It’s a superhero game. I want to feel a sense of power.”

With great power comes a risk of protagonist Cole feeling over powered. Entering the sequel with almost all of the powers gathered over the course of the orignal intact certainly flirts with that threat, but the Behemoth - the main boss of the game who knocks you down a notch in the first few minutes of the opening - shows you that you’re going to need to be a whole lot buffer by the end of the game if you want to take him down.

"For me it's very simple; I want to feel a sense of power"

“We’re not bringing Cole all the way back down to square one," Ishikura said. "We’re actually going to let him retain most of his powers.

"It’s why we keep pushing on this whole ‘Ionic Powers’ - epic content raising the bar - because we actually do let you retain most of these things. We want you to face bigger enemies and have to use stronger powers because of it.

“The Ionic powers are a representation of that on the power side, and of course you’ve seen the Behemoth, and so hopefully that’s very clearly a step up from what you had to face in inFamous 1.”

Schramm was quick to chime in. “Everything has to scale up. Remember, we’re not telling an origin story now: we’re telling a superhero story, so everything scales up. Whether that’s your powers, whether that’s the enemies, all of it. Up up up!”

One problem with morality or karma systems is that the world isn’t always black and white. There are a thousand shades of grey that blur the line between good and evil, and that’s rarely represented in games. inFamous 2 strongly focuses on a binary split between hero or villain, and Sucker Punch are quick to defend that.

“What if we decided should be in the middle ground?” Schramm asked.

“I think today we would be sitting here going ‘Well hey, what about those people that wanted them to be very abstract from one another?’ What the real challenge is, is trying to find a balance.

“Morality, karma, whatever you want to call it, it’s a very difficult thing to make sure that each and every players likes it. We couldn’t focus on that. What we needed to focus on was the delivery system of how we presented karma this time in the game.

“In the first game it was very much Cole deciding on his own 'Do I feed the people or do I feed myself?' This time along, it’s brought about by relationships.

Catch up on the sequel's plot.

"We’ve introduced Kuo and Nix but there’s other people that will introduce different scenarios. My point being there is that it’s about gameplay, we want to make sure your choices matter.”

Kuo or Nix will be your partner for a significant part of the story, which gives off a multiplayer-ready vibe. When it comes to a superhero game, playing with a friend has always brought much joy - will inFamous as a series conform, and add an extra player or even multiple extra players in the future?

“Oh jeez, let us finish inFamous 2 first,” Schramm said.

”inFamous 2 isn’t co-op, you’re talking about future products. We’ve got to get this thing out the door first, then have vacation time, then we’ll worry about what project we work on next.”

Speaking of next projects, Sucker Punch took one lesson from the first game to heart when developing the sequel: freedom is fun.

“I think one of the cool things that we have here is that we try and expand freedom as much as possible," Ishikura explained.

"We have this ‘power variant’ system where the way we try and expand the freedom in that we allow people to use different types of grenades, different types of rockets, different types of bolts this time around. We really let people determine for themselves what the best way to take out enemies is.

“I think what inFamous 1 told us is, and we very frequently let the game tell us how to make it, is that one of the funnest parts is to free-style on your own and try and take out enemies in your own way.”

“I think Joe’s got it right,” Schramm added after a moment. “Another aspect that we really tried to improve on with inFamous 2 is just the overall presentation value.

"Let’s face it: right now, Uncharted 2 set the bar as far as presentation, so you’re always trying to achieve at least that"

"Let’s face it: right now, Uncharted 2 set the bar as far as presentation, so you’re always trying to achieve at least that. We’re trying to do that with our 3D cut scenes as you saw, so everything’s mo-cap now.

“Don’t get me wrong, we still have our beloved 2D cut scenes, but I think one of the biggest distinctions between inFamous 1 and inFamous 2 has to be our presentation style. We really wanted to bring the players into the game but give them enough gameplay as well.

"We’re not trying to create an interactive story, it’s very much a video game, but nevertheless the presentation, trying to deliver the storyline... got to improve that. I think we did a good job between 1 and 2 on that.”

Infamous 2 launches for PS3 on June 7 in the US, June 8 in the EU and June 10 in the UK.

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