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You can take the blue lightning, or you can take the red lightning.

That’s the ultimate choice afforded to you by the inFAMOUS titles, a series of Sony-exclusive open-world action games for the PS3 that allow you to unleash devastating superpowers within a world and story affected by your decisions. It’s a series that’s garnered excellent sales and immense critical acclaim, though there are undeniably improvements and upgrades that can be made to such a concept with the coming of the next generation of consoles. We believe it’s a perfect candidate for a series that would successfully continue onto the PS4, and we’re about to tell you why.

Keep in mind that there are spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t played the previous two titles. Good, let’s begin!

As good as the inFAMOUS games are, there’s always been a sense that the PS3 hardware was holding back a lot of the series’ potential. Sucker Punch has been strikingly ambitious with this series, and while they’ve succeeded in created a solid gameplay formula for it that makes combat and traversal a fluid and efficient experience, they’ve fallen a bit short on making the world an extensively interactive and immersive place. Huge worlds and larger-than-life powers are two things that especially tempt limitations on a technical level.

Throughout both original games, civilians feel lifeless, there’s a lack of destructibility to the environment besides blowing up cars and select balconies, and there’s not many ways to use the environment besides climbing it. Whenever you stop grinding on power lines and drop down onto the streets below, it’s easy to be underwhelmed by a lack of polish in the game’s minute details. A leap in processing power would allow Sucker Punch to take interactivity to the next level and create a living, panting world that would feel less randomized in its events and characters and make your powers and decisions feel even more affecting.

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The settings of inFAMOUS have always been large, but when exploring them intimately, the interactivity was a bit lacking.

It would also serve to make the general presentation better. Animation have been a consistent weak point in the series (anyone remember Cole’s ‘I crapped my pants’ walk in the first game?), as were many of the game’s textures and character models. The amount of civilians that inhabited the city was also relatively low compared to sandbox titles like Grand Theft Auto IV and Prototype, and there’s no escaping the fact that explosions, tornadoes and lightning bolts would all look better on next-gen hardware.

But enough of that; let’s talk about where inFAMOUS 3 could go in terms of its story and, more importantly, its protagonist. Cole’s tale is obviously finished following the events of inFAMOUS 2, and a prequel involving him just sounds redundant and unnecessary, so a new hero is all but required for a third game, as is a new location, supporting characters and plotline.

The world of inFAMOUS consists of fictional cities that are loosely based on real-world locations such as New York and Louisiana, so there’s ample room to introduce a new setting. Perhaps a European-themed city fashioned after places like Paris or London? Or maybe pseudo Shanghai, Dubai or Rio? Any city is a possible setting for a game like this, and ideally, Sucker Punch will pick someplace that’s both unique and established in terms of population and culture.

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Cole worked as both a hero and a villain. A new protagonist would have to be similarly carefully designed.

As for the hero/antihero himself (or even herself), they could really be anyone so long as they have properly realized motives and are rich with personality. However, much like Cole, John Marston (Red Dead Redemption) and Corvo (Dishonored), they should be able to comfortably fit into both good and evil character roles should the situation call for it. This probably calls for a more rugged appearance, one that translates well to the image of an evil-doer while still making for a believable vigilante hero.

It would be refreshing to see a protagonist that isn’t primarily tied to lightning as his ability set, and would be able to wildly customize his evolution with a mix of other elemental powers, such as perhaps metal, poison, water, rock, etc. inFAMOUS 2 saw the introduction of ability paths for ice and fire, though they were still very limited and each one was only available for a certain morality. Progression has always been pretty rigid in these games, and allowing players to choose from larger suite of branching ability paths for powers would not only increase replayability, but also allow players to make their mark on the main character and grow even more attached to him/her. You could still have a morality system, but the superhero/supervillain wouldn’t be restricted to a certain set of powers by picking a side. Players would be able to tailor their character to a specific playstyle, even ones that vary radically from the predominantly third-person shooter gameplay that Cole was handcuffed to.

Regarding the morality system itself, efforts could be made to make it seem less black and white. A common criticism of games like inFAMOUS and Mass Effect are that the morality systems encourage you to stick to one moral path in order to be truly effective, eliminating any elements of choice and effectively locking you into one story path. Perhaps by allowing the game’s choice moments and everyday actions to be more grey in nature and giving each one substantial rewards and consequences, players will decide for themselves what’s right and ethical rather than picking whichever solution is aligned with their current morality choice. More dynamic reactions and behavior for story-related characters, as well as more than two endings, would also help to make for a more realistic portrayal of morality.

A possible inFAMOUS 3 would unfortunately be limited in terms of its timeline and story context. Seeing as Cole destroyed all Conduit life with the Ray Field Inhibitor during the good ending of the second game, a new entry in this series would have to be either a prequel or full-on reboot. Either that, or severe ret-cons would have to be awkwardly shoved in. It’s not implausible to have another powerful Conduit like Cole operating during the Empire City Incident in another part of the world, though to be honest, we think that the ideal inFAMOUS 3 would be a reboot or even a new IP that serves as a ‘spiritual successor’ to the previous games. That way, it wouldn’t be restricted by having to share its story with a world and timeline that already has another major one playing out in it.

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Even if the inFAMOUS series is officially over, there are gameplay and design concepts Sucker Punch could carry over to other games.

Sucker Punch is one heck of a creative and talented developer, and they probably have a Ray Sphere blast-sized amount of fresh ideas they could explore during the next gaming generation with new IPs. However, for what it’s worth, we really hope they look back on their success with the inFAMOUS series and consider expanding on some of its gameplay and design mechanics by trying to incorporate them into future projects. The world of inFAMOUS is one of power, ambition and possibilities, and Sucker Punch has all of these elements at their side, ready to blow us away with them.

Michael Urban
Now an occasional contributer, Michael Urban is the former Editor-in-Chief at OnlySP and has the nickname "Breadcrab" for reasons his therapist still doesn't understand. From the moment he first got hacked in Runescape, he's been uninterested in multiplayer games and has pursued the beauty of the single-player experience, especially in terms of story and creative design. His hobbies include reading, writing, singing in the shower, pretending to be productive, and providing info and feedback regarding the games industry. It is an industry, right? You can ask him a question or send him spam at michaelurban@onlysp.escapistmagazine.com. Also, follow him on Twitter or the terrorists win. (@MichaelUrban1)

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2 Comments

  1. sadly i doubt the new protagonist will have electric powers * or that’s a pretty damn big coincidence* or he could be coles son maybe he had a kid with nix or…what her name again the ice lady. XD still will totally buy infamous 3 loved the UCG in infamous 2 will probably be mind blowing on the PS4!

  2. Anyone else think that first image looks like Tom Cruise? I wonder how Infamous 2 would have turned out of they used that character model for Cole. XD

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