Given that inFamous 2 was only shown in trailer form to most of the press at E3 I was fairly surprised to see a stack of screens lined up for the public to play the game at GamesCom this year. Still, I didn't sit around stunned too long; I needed to get my hands on Cole's next adventure.
Remember that awesome gameplay debut that was shown a few weeks back? That was what was on display here, only tweaked with our hero's new outfit, a few more enemies, and some hints to help you along the way. The most notable part of the demo for me was right at the start as you battle your way through hordes of swamp monsters (huge beasts with blades for arms and mouths like Resident Evil 5's infected).
This area took the chance to show off the new melee system, a big improvement over the last game's simple button mashing. It seems Cole's taken a few lessons from Nathan Drake; when you dish out pain with your new metal prongs the camera will get up close and personal to give you a great view of the action that captures the cinematic feel of the Uncharted fist-fights. Cole has a bit more flair to his moves though; with a simple button press I saw him slide under one monster's feet, knocking him into the air and then batting him away like an annoying fly.
It looked great and is definitely an improvement over last time, my only concern being that these guys could be beaten by simply pressing triangle and watching Cole do these crazy moves. Hopefully we'll see a bit more challenge introduced to the melee system or it could totally unbalance the combat.
After dealing with the cannon fodder I moved onto the exciting car chase that sees Cole trying to stop his enemy from escaping in his ride. The scene around me is alive with chaos, carrying over the cinematic feel of the first section, a vital part of what makes this particular demo so exciting to play, but unlike the player from the video a few weeks back I didn't know the path I was meant to take. Sucker Punch had tackled this by highlighting the parts I needed to climb on, and restarting if I deviated too much. The end result was something that felt quite restricted, especially for an open-world game. Luckily getting Cole around is easier than ever now that he can shoot up walls just like he sails along power lines, making the free running faster and more fluid than last time, so I don't struggle much.
The usual sweep of powers you've grown to love from the first game return too. Sending an RPG unit flying with shockwave and then using the standard bolt to fry him before he touches the ground is as satisfying as ever and proves that this sequel has still got what made the original so much fun, and hopefully more once Sucker Punch delve into new powers.
Plus, Cole's electric thrusters have been made more useful, covering more distance which I witness as I use them to land on his target. There's a second to breathe as a cutscene triggers, letting me get a close up of Cole's redesign (the second one) and it's very much the Cole you knew and loved from inFamous 1. The yellow t-shirt is a nod back to his original jacket, and while some of the tattoos remain, the awful necklace is gone and he's shaved his head again. I wasn't too cut up about the original design, but it's nice to see Sucker Punch listen to fan demand and this should definitely please everyone who wasn't happy.
Fist-fighting isn't the only place Uncharted 2 has had an impact either; after being knocked around by a helicopter, I witnessed what I like to call an "Nathan Drake moment" where a few seconds of exciting scripted stuff interrupts the gameplay. This particular moment was Cole scrambling to his feet, narrowly dodging a missile explosion as he went. If inFamous 2 is going to have a lot of these moments (just like it seems Dead Space 2 is doing), then you can expect plenty of "Oh crap!" moments that stay in your mind.
Escaping the helicopter in a sequence that brought me back to the days of running away from a giant boulder in Crash Bandicoot, it was time for the big finale; Cole throwing a lightning tornado thingy to take down the threat. It took me a few goes to actually hit the chopper (again, not as easy as the video made it look), which detracted from what was supposed to be a flashy ending, but got me excited to use the power in a less restricted environment in the full game.
The destructibility was really impressive though; the whole street was torn apart after the action had died down and looked like an all-out war had taken place. Bear in mind that this is open-world, and it's even more impressive, especially with the high quality of the graphics that bring the city and its characters to life.