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Moral Crossroads: Infamous’ Tale Of Two Coles

by Ben Reeves on Jun 07, 2010 at 01:05 PM

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Sucker Punch understands the comic book mythos. With Infamous, the developer not only managed to successfully launch a new IP, it crafted a complex story in the vein of classic superhero folklore. But Infamous didn’t just tell one story. Utilizing the game’s morality system, players were free to choose how they would react to key moments within the game’s narrative, essentially creating two versions of one story. While Sucker Punch isn’t ready to reveal how players’ actions in the first game will impact Infamous 2, they made it clear that a fundamental understanding of the game’s story is important. So whether you’re looking for a recap of the first game’s events, or you’re just curious to see how the good and evil paths diverged, we’ve compiled all of Infamous’ relevant plot points below. Spoilers abound, so if you haven’t played Infamous yet, be warned. This is the story of Infamous, and its tale of two Coles.

In true comic book fashion, Cole MacGrath is an ordinary man who collides with forces beyond his control and is granted extraordinary powers. Before the game starts, Cole is living a fairly mundane life as a courier within a fictional metropolis called Empire City. One day, an anonymous customer instructs Cole to deliver a mysterious package to a location in the center of Empire City’s Historical District. However, upon reaching his destination, Cole is compelled to open the package, revealing a powerful device called the Ray Sphere. Once opened, the Ray Sphere activates, vaporizing everything within a six-block radius. Cole is the only person who survives the blast.

In fact, Cole hasn’t merely survived; he’s been transformed. The blast grants Cole an assortment of electricity-based superpowers. Cole uses these powers to escape the blast site and regroup with his best friend Zeke.

The government quickly clamps down on Empire City, turning the entire metro area into a quarantine zone. Empire City quickly reaches a cultural boil as competing gangs carve up and lay claim to various city districts. A pirate television broadcaster calling himself "the Voice of Survival" identifies Cole as the cause of the explosion and begins to turn the city’s remaining population – including Cole’s ex-girlfriend Trish – against the new superhuman.

Karma Choice: At this point, players are faced with their first moral choice. First responders have started to parachute food and emergency supplies into the city, and after fighting off a greedy gang of thieves, Cole has to decide whether he will keep the supplies to himself or share it with the rest of the population. This initial choice effects your Karma level, but doesn’t have wide-ranging consequences on the story as a whole. Whatever Cole’s choice, this begins his journey to either heal the city and elevate his reputation or unite the entire population under his terrifying rule.

With the city on lockdown, Cole and Zeke begin making plans to escape. These plans fail, and while Zeke escapes back into the city, Cole is captured by government agents. While briefly incarcerated, Cole meets an FBI agent named Moya Jones. Moya convinces Coles to return to Empire city, recover the Ray Sphere, and rescue Moya’s husband, a fellow agent named John White. In return for his service, Cole, Zeke, and Trish will all be released from the quarantine.

Cole proceeds to follow Moya's missions, restoring power to the city as he fights down the various gangs that have overrun Empire City. However, it’s quickly apparent that everything is not as it seems. Cole’s search for John takes him to a variety of dead drops all over the city where the agent has left intelligence reports for his superiors. Through this intel, Cole learns about a secret society called the First Sons. Formed ages ago, the First Sons are a Freemason-like force composed of people who believe that the human race is capable of evolving past its genetics. Lead by a man known only as Kessler, the First Sons have been conducting a series of genetic experiments, which culminated in the creation of the Ray Sphere – the device which seems to have gifted Cole with his electrical powers.

There is another power player who is trying to get his hands on the Ray Sphere, however ¬– a powerful mentalist named Alden Tate. This villain’s father, Richard, founded the First Sons, and Alden was in line to take over until Kessler organized a coup and exiled Alden from the society. Alden spent years honing his mental abilities, eventually coming to lead his own gang, known simply as the Dust Men.

At one point in the game, Alden acquires the Ray Sphere (presumably using it to boost his own abilities), but when Cole confronts him, Zeke swoops in and grabs the Ray Sphere. Zeke selfishly activates the Sphere, hoping it will grant him powers of his own. The device fails to work, but at that moment, Kessler shows up and promises to help Zeke reactivate the device. The two depart, leaving Cole to fend for himself.

Karma Choice: Around this time, Cole learns that Kessler has kidnapped Trish and set up and elaborate death trap in which Cole must choose whether he saves Trish or a group of Empire City’s most important doctors. This is all a ruse, however, as Kessler has ensured that no matter how Cole reacts, Trish will still die. If players have good karma at his point, Trish will tell Cole she is proud of him and that she loves him. If players have bad karma, she will use her dying breath to curse his name.

Zeke’s betrayal doesn’t stop Cole from tracking down the lost FBI agent, John White, but Cole discovers that John is neither an FBI agent nor Moya’s husband. Instead, John is a NSA agent who was assigned to infiltrate the First Sons. During his time undercover, John discovered the true purpose of the Ray Sphere, and has grown angry with his superiors over the government’s failure to take action against the First Sons before it was too late.

Upon meeting Cole, John explains that the Ray Sphere absorbs the bioelectrical energy of those within a certain radius, thereby granting its user supernatural powers. This is a revelation for Cole, as he now realizes that the thousands of people killed in the Historical District were the fuel for his newfound powers.

Karma Choice: Together, Cole and John track down the Ray Sphere, and Cole is faced with the most important choice in the game. He can either choose to destroy the Ray Sphere, ensuring that no one ever gets their hands on the device again, or use it one last time to amp his powers up to a new level. Either way, John is killed, and the Ray Sphere is rendered inert. However, choosing the bad path locks Cole’s morality meter at an Infamous rank for the rest of the game, making this a choice he can never return from.

With the Ray Sphere removed from play, the only thing Cole has left to deal with is Kessler. Cole heads back to ground zero to confront his mysterious nemesis. During their battle, Cole mortally wounds Kessler, but before the main baddie dies, he uses his powers to implant memories into Cole’s mind. In a shocking twist, Cole learns that he is Kessler, or rather that Kessler is an alternate, future version of Cole. In this future, Cole (as Kessler) is happily married to Trish. However, a powerful entity known as the Beast emerges to terrorize the world. Trish is killed in the process. Cole realizes he is not strong enough to deal with this great evil force, so he travels back in time, aids in the creation of the Ray Sphere, and orchestrates the series of events that he hopes will harden his past self so that this new Cole will be ready to deal with The Beast when the time comes.

The game ends with Cole under the shadow of the Beast. If Cole has good karma he stands over the city, lamenting the loss of Trish, and vowing to rebuild Empire City and protect its citizens who have all come to idolize him. If Cole has bad karma, Cole beats his chest, proclaiming himself the strongest entity in the universe, and claiming Empire City under the rule of his iron fist.

Did Cole make the right decisions? And is he really ready to stand against the awesome power of The Beast? Only Infamous 2 holds those answers.

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