Monday, July 4, 2011

inFamous 2 - My thoughts on the Story and Endings (Spoilers)

I'm going to say it about four times here, this post will be full of inFamous 1 & 2 spoilers.  So if you don't want to be spoiled on inFamous 2, don't read it.  Because there are spoilers.  I've mastered the art of the jump break, even, to make sure you can't be casually spoiled by perusing the main page.  I've taken the utmost care in making this as good for you, the reader, as I can.  So, with that out of the way, click on the link below to read the full article if you've beaten the game on both sides and care to read my ramblings.

Alright.  I really don't even know where to start.  I suppose the best place to start is with the knowledge that even though I'm going to be whinging about the story of inFamous 2 for paragraphs here, I love the game.  It's probably my favorite game of the year, and come GotY awards at the end of the year, it and Uncharted 3 will likely be dueling it out for my top spot.  Of course, my whinging about the story might put it in the second place spot, I don't know.  We'll just have to see how it works out.  And yes, I'm saying 'whinging' despite not being the least bit british. 

I guess what I first want to talk about is The Beast, since it's been on my mind chiefly since last night.  My good buddy Chance left a comment on my last post saying how he called The Beast's identity waaaaaaaay back and, while I'm not trying to cheapen that (Good job, Chance!), I also don't like that The Beast was call-able.  Not only because The Beast being John White (I WARNED you about Spoilers, bro) seems like a cop-out, but because it doesn't make sense.  Because of the facts as they are, and this is the chief problem with Time Travel stories.  I really had hoped Sucker Punch would transcend the plot holes involved, but, for me, they just sort of fell into the first and biggest one.

Let's present things how they are.  In inFamous 1, John White was destroyed by the Ray Sphere when it went off at the end of the game.  Just, straight-up atomized.  Which, okay, that's fine.  But when he shows up again in inFamous 2, he informs you, in not so many words, that he pulled himself back together, piece by piece to become him again.  Only, when he reformed, he wasn't him, he was, what we all have come to refer to him as "The Beast".  And he fulfills Kessler's prophecy by showing up and wrecking Empire City something fierce.  So far, everything seems on the up and up, I guess.

But the problem starts when you take a look at the biggest crack in this, which is Kessler himself.  His whole life's goal was all-encompassing in regards to The Beast.  He went so far as to do everything to set himself up to be powerful enough to go back into time to make his past self stronger in preparation for fighting the Beast.  And he had John White working with him every step of the way.  At least, in inFamous 1's story line, which is actually what happened when Kessler came back.

If we're assuming that the only real differences between Cole's timeline and Kessler's timeline is Kessler's work in accelerating the construction of the Ray Sphere and ensuring Cole would be holding it when it went off, then we're also assuming that John White was in the same position as he was in Kessler's timeline.  Which he clearly wasn't, because he must have gotten caught in the initial Ray Sphere blast -or- in a subsequent test or something.  Which would point to Kessler being able to figure out John White would eventually become the Beast.  So rather than making Cole stop him after the fact, he would have done something to just stop John before the fact.  It's sort of alluded in one of the Dead Drops that Kessler knows John is destined for 'great things', which is either hot air, or something else.  Like knowing he was a conduit capable of becoming The Beast.

This is the exact sort of Time Paradoxical headache that Time Travel storylines cause when you don't plot them out correctly.  Maybe I'm wrong, of course, and it's perfectly acceptable that John White, in two entirely different, yet remarkably similar timelines was in the correct position to be awoken as the Beast, without anyone knowing until after the fact, but.....well, I don't buy it, unfortunately.  In my opinion, The Beast just should have been that; a Beast.  A force of nature.  Not a 'twist'.

Moving on, I can't really dedicate too much time to this one, but I will kind of throw out there that I'm really disappointed that the only returning characters from inFamous 1 to the sequel were Cole, Zeke and, er, John.  Moya, Sasha and Alden weren't in the sequel and, in fact, weren't even mentioned or alluded to, which almost seems like a big waste, honestly, as they were interesting characters all their own.  Who still had unfinished business, especially now that you, the player, knew Cole's connection to each one.  (Well, maybe not Moya. know what I meant.)  That's not to say the new characters weren't nice, as they were fairly fun, but without even mentioning them, it just felt like loose ends.

Which leads quite nicely into the next topic:  The endings, as they do leave some loose ends themselves.  Some, of course, are on purpose, but some, I think, were just mere oversights.  Now, towards the end of the game, you find out that the entire conduit project (or, at least, the later stages that Bertrand was involved in) was a big government conspiracy, which, hey, that's normal comic book stuff, it's expected and it's not a bad thing.  But....that was it.  No real questioning -who- in 'the government' (governments, plural, really) was in charge, was funding it, no questioning to motives or anything.  Just, "Hey, Bertrand's involved, let's go kick him in the giant, alien-insect dick." and tra la la, now time to do something with the RFI.

Which, as a side-note, killing Wolfe was just...dumb.  Unnecessary.

The bit with the RFI at the end seemed a little way off-course for me, honestly.  I didn't like that it turned the last choice of the game into "Do it, or don't do it" when the rest of the game had choices like, "Do this -this- way, or do this -that- way.".  The whole of everything was picking out different ways to do something, and at the end, nobody really thought about anything, it was just, "USE IT TO CURE THE PLAGUE" and "DON'T USE IT WE'LL DIE".  I can understand maybe everyone was at a high-tension at the time, but, really, -something- could have been worked out instead of everybody dying somehow.

Here's where comes in what I was dancing around in the last post; I like each ending for the showing, the thematics going on in it, and the theatrics.  I liked the idea behind sailing around The Beast and wrecking shit up together.  I liked the idea of always having one of the two people who've been your allies most of the game going against you at the end (especially because it was the one you'd likely interacted with most).  I liked the duel with Zeke for how emotional it was.  But the problem I have with it is none of it made any sense.  Referring back to my earlier problem of nothing at the end being thought out with the group, of course.

Why do I have to use the RFI to kill all the conduits and stop the plague?  Why can't Kuo and Zeke put their heads together to figure out a way to use the principle -behind- the RFI instead?  Granted, time is short, but it's a comic book story; Wolfe probably had something in reserve for 'just such an occasion'.  Conversely, why isn't there some way to reason things out with John?  As we find out in the Evil Ending, he pusses out in the end anyway (Which really annoyed me.  "Oh, hey, I know you just killed your best friend and all, but I can't do this anymore.  Here, have all the power, fuck this, I'm OUT.") so why couldn't he be convinced to give up his power right out and it could be used to help figure out the plague better?

I guess all this boils down to the fact that it sort of seemed to be set up to have this tragic, final ending, yet keep a glimmer of hope for a threequel.  Which, honestly still could happen, but if it did, with the endings as they are, what's the point?  If they use the Good ending as a base for inFamous 3, and Cole comes back to life, who's he fighting?  More conduits?  Oh wait, they're -dead-.  The governments?  Yawn.  Call me when someone has super powers.  Conversely, if they go with the Evil ending, everyone but Cole and Kuo is dead, and the 'quest' is just going off and awakening conduits.  I....guess they could make a story out of that, but what's the end payoff?  A world of 'mutants'?  Magneto might approve, but I need something a little more....substantial.

I'm hoping they can surprise me and pull something out, maybe even do -another- time travel thing to make a -real- good ending, but I'm not too sure.  As it stands, I just have my complaints, but it doesn't really affect my overall opinion of the game being fantastic.  I'm just hoping Sucker Punch can make something up for a third game that's satisfying enough to make 2 make sense.  Which, it does, but, well, you read this whole thing, you know what I mean.


  1. As for the non returning characters, that's covered in the pre release comics for InFamous 2. They bridge the gap between the games.We also just can't assume that the plague could have been cured. Even if it could, could it have been found in time? No matter how much we put our heads together we can't seem to cure cancer. The only thing that kinda bugs me is the beast. It is possible that Kessler didn't know who the beast was. But this brings into question the great thing Kessler said John was gonna do. It could have been referring to the eventual destruction of the ray sphere, which unknowing to Kessler would end up creating the beast in the first place. In the end the ultimate purpose of the RFI was to destroy the beast, curing the plague was kind of a bonus.

  2. Fair enough on the Non-Returning characters. I hadn't paid attention to the inFamous comics, since I wanted to wait for them all to be out there and get them at once. And I didn't know if they actually branched canon or not.

    Yeah, the Kessler saying John was 'destined for great things' was what threw me and I still am not quite sure what it's in reference to. I'm not sure it would be the destruction of the ray sphere though, since that happened in the latter portions of the first game, whereas I believe the conversation had to have taken place before the events started, and I don't know how he'd know John would do it. But it's really hard telling either way, I suppose.

    You're probably right on the RFI, given how they talked about it, but I'd still say with Wolfe researching it, he probably would have had 'something' as a back-up plan. Of course, that's a moot point since they went and offed him, which, again I'll say was completely unnecessary. It would have made a lot more sense to keep him around til the last choice so he could fess up on whether he knew it'd kill Cole as well. (For an evil Karma playthrough, this would be especially fitting.)