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inFamous Showdown: Cole McGrath vs Delsin Rowe
It’s been over a week since inFamous: Second Son has been out, and while Second Son definitely still plays and feels like inFamous, it’s quite a step away from its predecessors. The fictional cities of Empire City and New Marais have been replaced with the real city of Seattle, instead of just lightning you have four different powers at your disposal, and last but not least, you’re not playing as Cole McGrath. In Second Son, we take on the role of a cocky, trouble-making kid named Delsin Rowe. While Delsin and Cole share some similarities, the two are miles apart from each other in personality, powers, and overall motives. How do the two stack up against each other?
VICTIMS OF CIRCUMSTANCE
Both Delsin and Cole possess incredible power, but neither of them asked for it initially. Both were the victims of unpredictable circumstances that gave them their abilities, and prior to the events that gave them their power, they weren’t extraordinary people. They were average, everyday guys. Cole was a bike messenger in Empire city, and one day, one of the packages he was delivering came in the form of a bomb – a bomb that wiped out half of Empire City and killed thousands. Instead of dying, Cole survived the explosion and from it gained the power to shoot lightning bolts out of his hands and absorb all types of electrical energy.
Delsin’s powers weren’t gained as violently as Cole’s, but they were an accident none the less. Delsin is your typical, fight-the-power young gun who loved to go around spray painting everything in sight around the neighborhood. One day a truck carrying conduit prisoners wrecked in Delsin’s neighborhood, causing each conduit to escape. At the scene of the wreck, Delsin tries to help one of the survivors trapped under debris who happened to be a conduit that possessed the ability of Smoke. With this, he can change his body structure into a cloud of smoke to move through passable objects and shoot smoke out of his hands. When Delsin comes into contact with this conduit, he too gains the power of Smoke.
This is an aspect of inFamous that I have always loved. The idea of a normal, everyday person getting superpowers has always been very relatable, and whether or not anyone wants to admit it, we’ve all had thoughts of what the first thing we would do with a certain superpower or what superpower in particular we would want. Therein lies the next issue. If we possessed superpowers, how would we use them?
WITH GREAT POWER, COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILTY
Another similarity between Delsin and Cole was that each of them were put into a situation where they felt obligated to do something. Despite having the option to use your powers for good or evil, Both Delsin and Cole were still in situations where they had to act. With Cole, there was the need to change the future. After defeating Kessler, Cole learns that Kessler is actually himself from the future. In Kessler’s world (aka future Cole), Kessler had a nemesis called “the Beast”. Instead of using his power to defeat the beast, Kessler took his wife Trish (Cole’s girlfriend in the present day) and fled. The beast grew more powerful and wiped out almost all of humanity, including Trish. Kessler used the Ray Sphere to go back in time, so he could mold Cole into the hero he could never be, and killing Trish was one of the ways he did it. Kessler tells Cole that “the Beast” is coming, and that he needs to be ready to stop it whenever it comes. From this moment, Cole is thrown into a situation that is almost inescapable. Whether he wants it to or not, the beast is coming, so he must act.
Delsin’s situation is not as dire, but he too acts out of obligation. When the head of the DUP (Department of Unified Protection) Brooke Augustine comes to Delsin’s neighborhood to take back the conduit that gave him his power, she interrogates Delsin to find out what really happened, and needless to say, with Delsin being the loudmouth that he is, the interrogation doesn’t go well. Being a conduit herself, Augustine uses her concrete ability to put shards of concrete in the legs and arms of the Akomish tribe. The doctors can do nothing for the tribe, and Delsin learns that the only way to get the shards of concrete out of his people, is to have the power of concrete. With this, Delsin must set out for Seattle and find Augustine in order to save his people.
While both Cole and Delsin act out of a sense of obligation, their overall motives begin to get quite different. Cole certainly never asked to deliver a bomb that would give him powers, but once Cole got his power, it was never an obsession with him. In fact, Cole truly never wanted his powers, and while he learned to accept that he was different than others, he never was power hungry. Delsin, on the other hand, is a totally different case. While Delsin is trying to save his people, that becomes more of an alibi than anything. With Delsin, it’s all about having a blast with his superpowers and going to Seattle felt more like an excuse for him to use his powers and even get more powers. Regardless of whether you choose the evil or good path, Delsin is power hungry throughout the entire game, and as he meets other conduits along the way, he stops at almost nothing to get their powers, too.
THEY’VE GOT THE POWER
Both Cole and Delsin are conduits, which means they have the ability to control certain natural elements and turn them into power. Both possess incredible power, and in many ways, both of them are unstoppable forces. While they may take some damage, they’ll heal from it and they’ll be right back to finish the job. There’s really nothing that can stand in the way of the two, and as long as there is energy around for them to drain from, they’re near unstoppable. Cole possessed the incredible power of electrokinesis. Besides just being able to shoot lightning bolts, Cole can use his power to do so much more. Because of the electricity running through his body, he possesses incredible strength and energy, and the ability to heal himself very quickly. He can also heal injured civilians by basically using his power like a defibrillator. He also has the ability to absorb any kind of electrical energy, and he can even absorb electrical energy from people.
Delsin is a different conduit, not just because he has control over a different natural element, but he has the ability to have control over multiple natural elements. Delsin isn’t a single-power conduit. The first power Delsin acquires is Smoke. With Smoke, Delsin can transform his body into a cloud of smoke to pass through objects and dodge enemy attacks. He can also fire hot smoke shots from his hands along with fiery embers. The second ability Delsin acquires is Neon. Delsin can absorb the power of Neon lights and with this, he can fire neon lasers from his fingertips and run at the speed of light. The third power Delsin picks up is the power of Video. Delsin can actually absorb the energy within a television, or television satellite. With this power, Delsin can fire radioactive, static bursts from his hands, turn invisible, and fly around the city of Seattle with incredible speed like airwaves, and last but least, he can summon digital angels and demons to attack you…..pretty cool right? The last power Delsin acquires is the power of his archenemy, Brooke Augustine: Concrete. With Concrete, Delsin can fire large and small shards of concrete from his hands, hover and thrust himself into the air, and encase himself in concrete armor and run around like a juggernaut, powering through everything you run into.
Instead of making characters that are likable right from the start, SuckerPunch likes to make a hero (or villain) that you’ll either love, hate, or take some time to get used to. The original inFamous was a fantastic game, but its protagonist….not so fantastic. Originally Cole was a character that was really hard to get into. Maybe it was the grumbly, raspy, typical “cool guy” voice, or maybe it was his constant bad mood. In inFamous, Cole didn’t have too much personality, and I felt more like I was just a guy walking around electrocuting stuff. inFamous 2 was a different ballgame. While still having the grumbly, raspy voice, and boring personality, Cole was extremely more likable in inFamous 2. He was more lively, and less uptight, and seemed to enjoy his powers a little more.
In terms of personality, Delsin is the opposite of his predecessor. Much like Cole, Delsin is a character that you’ll either love, hate, or take some time to get used to. Delsin is loudmouth, cocky young gun, who loves to go around spray painting buildings. He’s constantly arguing with his brother Reggie and is always ignoring his warnings. While maybe not the most likable protagonist of all time, Delsin is very relatable right from the start. When we’re young, we all have that “take on the world” mentality, and we could really care less about what others say. Another part of Delsin that is very relatable and likable is the way he enjoys his power. While Delsin was horrified when he first got his power, he didn’t just adapt to it quickly; he fell in love with it.
So, who’s the better overall Conduit: The Patron Saint of New Marais, or the Bannerman? In the power department, there’s no comparison. It never got old surfing on power lines and electrocuting stuff brings a very special kind of satisfaction, but Delsin takes home the prize in powers. Whether I was running up the sides of skyscrapers with Neon, or shooting threw air vents with Smoke, my power felt limitless with Delsin, and having four powers on tap and seamlessly being able to switch between them at will was exhilarating. In the personality category, Delsin also takes home the gold. Cole was much more likable inFamous 2, but he still remained a very dull character that I wished I could have gotten to know more. Delsin may be a loudmouth kid, but he was a character that was fully explored and fleshed out, and the way that he loved his powers also made him much more relatable. We’ve all entertained the thought of what it would be like to have superpowers and how awesome it would be, and with Delsin, players are able to fully live that out.
While Delsin has Cole beat in personality and powers, in the end, Cole takes home the overall prize. Cole may not have been the most exciting character and he may not have had four different powers, but in the end, it’s all about what Cole had to overcome and his overall situation. Delsin had a dire situation. He had to get Augustine’s power to save his people, but in that Delsin’s overall motives were to just have fun and get more powerful, it made his cause less critical. Cole was cursed from the moment he got his powers. Whether he wanted it or not, the Beast was coming to wipe out humanity, and even if he decided to run, Trish would still be killed and most of humanity would be wiped out. It was a lose-lose situation for Cole from the beginning. Cole also lost everything. Not only did he lose the woman he loved, but in order to defeat the beast and save humanity, he had to give his own life. Delsin was an incredible character, but Cole McGrath still remains the best of the two conduits.