I don’t know if you ever let someone down, got your ass kicked, or straight up failed. Those are the moments that define us, they push you further than you ever thought possible and force you to make choices… no matter what the cost.
Our hero, Cole, is quite plain, like, the usual psychological thinness one grows to expect from video game main characters. The ones who aren’t ridiculous power fantasies like Kratos or your good ol’ antihero like Raziel. He isn’t bad, especially when you have deeper insights to his personality - thanks to Kessler most notably - but still, he is kinda boring.
The rest of inFamous’ writing fluctuates between good ideas, funny dialogues… and terrible support characters. Let’s not talk about the embarrassing depiction of female individuals, divided in both games between the Wife (Trish, Kuo) and the Bitch (Sasha, Moya, Nix), and everytime, without any influence on the main plot. Way to be progressive. And for every plot element which gets good foreshadowing, there is another one which painfully fails to tcheckhov themselves.
Still, some quality writing most of the time. And in all of this… Let’s talk about Zeke.
Unlike Cole, whose childhood and teenage years we know nothing about (or at least it isn’t hinted in-game), we learn during inFamous Zeke is an orphan, often in the streets, and with his forties approaching, in complete existential despair. Not getting any real satisfaction in life. Poor to the point of living on a roof, a shitty inventor whose inventions generally explode, apparently no successful love/sex life either, no known friend outside of Cole, clearly the occasional outlaw too.
Close to the end of the second island, in respect to your usual three-acts-structure, the hero traditionally encounters a significant failure. And the big defeat here, the one which definitely implies some moral responsability… isn’t Cole’s doing. It’s Zeke’s.
It’s Zeke who will foolishly abandon his job of watching a gang leader in chains during an important mission, it’s because of Zeke countless innocents die when the leader escapes.
"Don’t know if Zeke’s gonna forgive himself for this….Don’t know if he should.“ (Cole)
The character will be developed further during the game, while in what is arguably the most stunning scene of the series, during the bad ending of inFamous 2, Zeke is once again the focus of the situation.
This is a very interesting thing, the sidekick being the developed character for once, and it is one approach clearly done, deliberately or undeliberately, as a direct result of the support.
In video games, you can’t have your main character fail too much. You can’t have him being too fat, or too short, or too clumsy. You can’t develop him around his failure of a life and around big, bloody mistakes. Well, you CAN but most developers will never risk it, and regrettably, a lot of players would hate it.
However, you can make a real character out of the sidekick.
It contains details about the ending, so Spoilers.
Through the progression of the campaign, you are trying to stop the equivalence of the apocalypse (the beast, a conduit) from destroying all normal humans.
The way you find to do so is called the RFI (Ray Field Inhibitor) which is the counterpart to the Ray Sphere from the first game.
You spend much of the game trying to find these cores that help power up the RFI to be able to use it.
When the time comes for you to finally use it, you find through your initial attempt that doing so would kill you, and all other conduits (people with powers, like you).
Well, your two close conduit friends try to persuade you to make your choice.
One, Lucy Kuo, who has been striving to do the right thing all through the game, pleads you to not use the RFI, and join the Beast, to allow you, her, and all other conduits to live.
The other, Nix, wants to destroy the Beast at all costs. Nix hasn’t always made Good moral decisions.
Now you choose who to side with.
By siding with Nix, you’ll be saving humanity, but sacrificing yourself in the process.
By siding with Kuo, you’ll be taking the selfish route, sacrificing billions of innocent people to allow the thousands of conduits to live.
I sided with Nix, and I wasn’t really prepared for the outcome.
You go through very intricate missions attempting to stop the beast from killing everyone. You have to fight the beast, and when Kuo comes to stop you from advancing your plan, it almost hurts to have to fight your friend who has done so much for you, and you for her.
Finally you subdue the beast and Kuo, and outside the Cathedral in New Marais, you pick up the RFI.
Lucy Kuo lands near you, battle worn and defeated. She’s crying because she’s afraid of what will happen, after all, nobody wants to die. You forgive her and say that it’s what must be done.
The game then prompts you to press four buttons simultaneously (R1+R2+L1+L2). I expected the RFI to instantly activate, so I took my time, taking in the game’s scenery and things I would not see again, as the play through would end.
Then something unexpected: the RFI didn’t immediately activate.
I was given another prompt by the game:
Usually you’d expect that to be second nature, but it is so important a point in the game, that they make a point to show you that letting go is just as important and difficult as any other aspect of saving the world.
I let go, extremely touched by what the game had prompted me to do, and as the RFI activated, you (Cole McGrath), Kuo, Nix, the Beast, and every other conduit dies.
And I was treated to one of the best ending cutscenes in any game I have played.
Included is a link to the last mission. You should watch it, even if you have no intention of playing the game. It’s that good.
The Sony studio behind great games like Infamous, Infamous 2 and Infamous: Festival of blood has confirmed that Cole Macgrath is no more.
QA Manager, MichaelM from Sucker Punch has confirmed
“Cole McGrath’s legacy from the first two inFAMOUS titles ultimately concluded following the final events of inFAMOUS 2 and he will not be returning. The inFAMOUS universe holds so many interesting storylines and characters that we wanted to explore a new story arc for the franchise”