SPOILER WARNING: The following rant spoils the good ending of Infamous 2. You’ve been warned, bub.
I think we all know what was racing through the minds of us Infamous fans when Infamous: Second Son was announced for the PS4. “How exactly does this guys have super powers?”
It was a fair question, seeing as one of the endings to Infamous 2 resulted in the the complete eradication of all conduits (the folks with super powers) on the planet. At that point, we were eagerly anticipating what rabbit Sucker Punch would pull out of their hat as an explanation. Perhaps some new experiment or device would come along and bestow superpowers to select people. Perhaps Second Son would make Infamous 2‘s evil ending canon and just work off of that. Or maybe aliens. Or radioactive corn flakes, or something.
However, none of those are the case. Yesterday, we got the official explanation via a GameInformer story. Infamous: Second Son considers the good ending canon (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but get this; it’s based off the theory that the Ray Field Inhibitor didn’t completely purge the conduits.
Yeah, Cole’s climactic decision at the end to sacrifice himself and the entirety of conduit life in order to preserve humanity? Sucker Punch changed their mind. The blast wasn’t strong enough to kill everyone on Earth after all. A few conduits survived, albeit in a weakened state, and have slowly regained their power over the years.
I was operating under the assumption that the RFI wiped out every single conduit. That’s certainly how Sucker Punch seemed to present the situation, what with the stakes and urgency. Them suddenly deciding to double back now and change their own rules and history looks downright sloppy on my eyes.
Though to be fair, I watched Infamous 2‘s good ending again today, and nowhere did it explicitly state that the whole world was affected by the RFI blast. So alright, I can skeptically buy into the notion that maybe the RFI didn’t affect the farther corners of the world.
But here’s the thing; Second Son is to take place in Seattle, Washington. That’s in North America, need I remind you. Considering the fact that the RFI was used in that very continent and its blast was large enough to be seen from outer space, I think it can at least be confirmed that every conduit in this region is gone.
But no. Apparently the conduits in Washington survived and went on their merry way while similar folks “overseas” were killed off by the event. Riiiiggghhht.
But wait! There’s still a sliver of hope. Maybe the protagonist, Delsin Rowe, resided in a foreign country and later moved to Seattle after the chaos in Infamous 2 cleared. That’s a possibility, right? Unfortunately, this is incredibly unlikely. The name Delsin is of Native American origin, meaning he was almost certainly born and raised in North America.
You could probably then proceed to play the card that he somehow managed to escape America during the events of the first two games, which is a hell of a stretch to begin with. But assuming Seattle itself wasn’t quarantined at one point like the fictional Empire City and New Marais, and assuming a young Delsin was somehow able to flee, why would he want to return to Seattle in the near future when American cities were starting to adopt the strict and paranoid security measures we saw in the debut trailer?
Look, I’m not against the idea of a sequel to Infamous 2. In fact, so far I love the new thematic direction Sucker Punch is taking with Second Son, and I’m eagerly anticipating the title. However, it really doesn’t seem to me that they did a thorough enough job of connecting the events of Infamous 2 with this sequel in order to create a smooth and plausible continuity. In a world where Marvel movies are now tied together in a seamless web of references and cross-film continuity, I expect a bit more from my superhero sagas.
Endings are serious business. They present the opportunity to tie up loose ends, leave some threads dangling and hint at what may come in the future. As such, it’s important to take a step back and really think about how an ending will affect potential sequels (or even prequels) before setting them in stone. Infamous: Second Son seems to me like the tragic case of a developer not realizing they were going to make a sequel until after they wrote their climactic conclusion to a seemingly final chapter in a franchise. And in my opinion, it’s come back to bite them in the ass a bit. Will that make Second Son a bad game? Absolutely not, but it’s unfortunate that from a narrative standpoint, the series’ jump to the next generation could’ve been smoother.