Good, Bad... I'm the Guy with the BIG Guns

We go hands-on with inFAMOUS 2 for another peek at Cole's trip through New Marais and the user-generated content players will add to the experience.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 28, 2011
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It wasn't that long ago that we took a peek at inFAMOUS 2 (during the Game Developers Conference, last month, in fact), but that look was mostly concerned with the then-recently announced user-generated content system that developer Sucker Punch had cooked up in secret.

We actually had the chance to check it out again, this time with Game Designer Darren Bridges on hand to demonstrate the wonders of the overabundance of propane tanks. The fruits of the UGC tools are already apparent if you've been lucky enough to get into the inFAMOUS 2 private beta (though, obviously with the PlayStation Network down, even those that are in the beta can't goof around with things). For those that aren't fortunate enough to see how things are coming along (like us), one needn't fear. As we mentioned back in our GDC preview, Sucker Punch will be skimming through the top-rated creations and placing them in the game world from the very first second inFAMOUS 2 is fired up.

Bridges was quick to re-iterate the wealth of filtering options available to everyone, too. While the UGC options can be easily toggled off, they can just as easily be whittled down to everything from those aforementioned Sucker Punch-vetted creations, the newest created, the highest or lowest rated or even by gameplay style. That last one is important, because as the Mission Creator Reveal trailer showcased, a simple little platformer can be far, far more with just a little imagination. Survival challenge? Physics-based puzzler? Races? Time attack mission? All possible -- especially when one considers the 15-20 templates that will ship with the game.

Much like the other Play.Create.Share offerings out there like LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers, one person's levels can be downloaded and then remixed over and over again, giving rise to the kind of iteration that creates addictive little mini-games and full-blown story-style missions alike. The sharing and remixing aspect is absolutely central to inFAMOUS 2's UGC, but there was something we glossed over in our last preview: the sheer ease of jumping in and creating damn near anything (Bridges mentioned that someone had already created a pirate ship out of the materials provided as part of the beta, which frankly scares the crap out of us if that's just a small portion of the user base).

At any point outside of a cutscene while just running around, pressing the Start Button to pause the game brings up a menu option to jump right into creating a mission, either from a template (or an existing mission) or from scratch. That might sound like a small thing, but it takes the oft-used "sandbox" descriptor and makes it about as literal as it can be. Like that spot you're running around in during the course of the single-player game? Cool, fire up the Mission Creator and use the area in any way you wish. The world itself can become an inspiration for making new levels or gameplay styles, which is something that wasn't really possible with the other Play.Create.Share offerings. Remember, all those games had separate modes and menus that had to be traversed outside of the normal single-player experience. That's no longer a hurdle, and the immediacy allows inspiration to strike at any time with minimal waiting to actually act on that lightning bolt out of the blue.

In truth, though, the bulk of our updated peek at the game was centered around that single-player experience Sucker Punch has been toiling away on since the first game, and just as it was back when we originally went hands-on at GDC, the demo missions were split between a "good Cole" and "bad Cole" set of challenges. The division wasn't so much meant to show Cole's interaction with the Kuo or Nix the icy/good and fiery/bad females that serve as Cole's moral compass, but the way the superpowered lead's powers develop.
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