"We rolled out a new Cole at E3 and we were absolutely stunned at how much people cared about the old Cole design," says Bruce Oberg, co-founder of Sucker Punch and possessor of a sweet hat. "Today we're unveiling the new old Cole who's a little bit closer to the Cole from inFamous 1."
Yes, apparently there's no accounting for taste: you all liked Cole McGrath, the electrical superhero star of last year's open-world action game, inFamous, and about whom the nicest thing we ever wrote was, "There is more charm to inFamous than Cole's face and voice suggest."
In response Sucker Punch has given him a less dramatic makeover than originally planned. Now he looks less like Nathan Drake and more like the grumpy bike messenger we all know and feel ambivalent about.
At least the game starts off by punching him in the face. "He has a scar right around his eye," says Oberg. "He's going to get defeated by The Beast at the beginning of inFamous 2."
The Beast, of course, is the monster glimpsed in Cole's future at the end of the first game. Beastie arrives in Empire City and smashes it up, handing Cole his backside in the process. Cole heads south to New Marais - loosely based on New Orleans - to recuperate and learn new skills, Dagobah-style, before The Beast catches up with him.
Things aren't much happier in New Marais, which is overrun by various factions including angry militia and "Corrupted" monsters. In our demo we're shown a swampland section covered in vegetation, where Cole is caught up in a big fight with militiamen. As they get up close he pummels them with his new, ever-present melee weapon, the Amp. "Hand to hand combat wasn't as strong as we wanted it to be," admits Oberg about the third-person shooty original.
One of the reasons Sucker Punch originally intended to redesign Cole was that it had found a new actor to portray him - a chap who was also employed to do the actions. "It feels a lot more physical because it's a recording of an actor on a motion capture stage," Oberg explains as Cole uses the Amp to slam an enemy to the ground. The developers still use hand animation for some things - like climbing over uneven surfaces where the movement range needs to be more flexible.
And Cole still fires electricity about like there's no tomorrow - to increasingly explosive effect. As he advances through the swampland he shoots an observation tower and it bursts into flames and tumbles to the ground. "All of New Marais has been built to be collapsible," says Oberg.