InFamous was a decent open world superhero game with just one problem: the superhero himself. Cole McGrath is a fine enough name if you're a guy who mows other peoples' lawns for a living, but it lacks a little spark when you transport it the world-saving business - and the face behind it wasn't much better either.
Sure, the important parts of InFamous were in place - Cole had some fizzy electrical powers to enjoy and a large, if slightly grim, tumbledown playground to ravage or rescue depending on your whims - but his lingering blandness held the game back from greatness. It was a bit like biting into a burger to find that the ketchup has been replaced with wallpaper paste: nobody thinks the ketchup is the most important part of a burger, sure, but you certainly miss it when it isn't there.
Sucker Punch is aware that its leading man was a bit of a charisma black hole, by the looks of it, because he's largely unrecognisable in the new game. He's grown out his hair, switched to a T-shirt, and swapped voice actors. He's probably started pretending he never liked Rush albums and gone exclusively non-dairy, too.
It's quite the transformation. He's not there yet, though, and Sucker Punch knows that too - the current model still seems like he's a stand-in covering the real superhero's lunchbreak, and that hair he's grown looks as though he's slapped a load of brown Post-Its on his scalp - but it's a step in the right direction, and a year out from release there's plenty of time left to find the soul of Cole.
He's not the only thing that's been tweaked. InFamous 2 picks up a couple of months after the last game ends, with Cole leaving Empire City after a giant monster gives him a righteous shoeing - possibly because brown Post-Its was going to be his look for 2011. With his buddy Zeke tagging along, Cole heads south - Deep South - and winds up in New Marais, a pre-floods New Orleans-alike where it turns out that the local citizenry really doesn't like mutants. I sense a racial tolerance fable on the way. With a bit of parkour thrown in.
Besides being a lot more destructible - cars fly down the streets when Cole's electrical charms erupt, balconies collapse taking shopfronts with them, and it doesn't take Cole more than a few seconds to reduce most neighbourhoods to rubble - New Marais brings something inFamous was sorely in need of: colour.
The E3 demo - kicking off, rather delightfully, at an anti-mutant hate rally - is set in the French Quarter, where warm light spills from windows, the cobbled roofs of the houses are painted pretty reds and blues, and, at the centre of the district, a huge silver-stoned church is criss-crossed with the roving disks of a half-dozen search lights.
You can expect real variety this time around, too, as we're promised swamps, cemeteries and slums as you move beyond the faded splendour of the inner city and out to the fringes. (Only in a videogame - or perhaps in the world of back door medical research - would easy access to swamps, cemeteries and slums be seen as a good thing, incidentally.)