Having being primarily known for the Sly Cooper series, Sucker Punch Productions was among the few studios producing iconic (or ‘mascot’ driven) Sony exclusives and , at the time, giving the PlayStation some impetus. Come the PlayStation 3 though, and the boys in development seemed to have ‘grown up’ with their release of inFAMOUS. Coming at a time when developers realised that the extra power offered by the last console generation had potential in the super anti-hero market, inFAMOUS actually managed to develop quite the following.
Taking the idea of free-running akin to Assassin’s Creed and infusing it with super powers right out of a comic book, as well as giving the player the ‘choice’ of being good or evil (as part of gaming’s morality fad) topped this off as one of the last generations attempt’s at bringing everything together that was considered ‘in’ at the time. Well, everything that wasn’t a first person shooter. Either way, inFAMOUS did well enough to justify a sequel, which incidentally made a large number of headlines simply because of the changes made to protagonist Cole Macgrath’s appearance. And so, begun the era of social media’s dictation of game design…
Anyway… just as another era begins – the eighth console generation – early adapters might be getting ants-in-their-pants without much software to put into their new machines. Looking to take the early charge in the race, inFAMOUS sees a third title (fourth if you count the standalone sequel) – inFAMOUS: Second Son – in the anti-hero series taking flight on the PlayStation 4. Now if developers thought that the seventh generation gave them the tools to bring super hero type titles to realisation, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One might be considered a proverbial wet dream for creating endless possibilities of gameplay creativities and giving new meaning to an ‘open world’.
The stories of the past titles did a pretty decent job at creating a comic book atmosphere, but one that was closer to the morbid vein of Watchmen, rather than a traditional idealistic view. inFAMOUS: Second Son, picks up seven years after Cole’s escapades in New Marais, where ‘conduits’ or dudes/dudettes with super powers are now hunted and feared as ‘bio-terrorists’. Deslin Rowe, a directionless graffiti artist, discovers that he has the ability to create smoke and neon weaponry out of thin air and along with his police officer brother, pick up the fight against the oppressive ‘Department of Unified Protection’ or DUP, as well as other potentially anarchic conduits on the loose.
Aside from looking like he knows the best place to order an organic coffee, or how to take great selfies on Instagram, Deslin has thrown away his fixie and embraced his conduit powers – smoke and neon. However, just as Cole evolved from just being able to control lightning and added ice and other elements to his repertoire, Deslin too will be able to absorb other conduit powers in addition to the smoke and neon he originally was endowed with. This leads to a whole new set of possibilities for multiple power sets. Either way, players will be able to use these powers for getting around, eliminating your enemies and creating as much havoc as you deem ‘fun’. Both the initial powers are meant to work quite differently, but should complement each other nicely.
Outside of this, the game is set in Seattle, complete with a knock-off Space Needle! So aside from being a great place to show of tempermental weather (re: new weather effects on a new system), the diverse architecture and mixture within the high density landscapes allowed the development team to try and give new meaning to ‘sandbox’. Deslin will have a set of chains as his melee weapon, to complement his powers and allow for what looks to be a ‘flowing’ melee combat style. Furthermore, you no longer will need to enter a lock-on mode, as an on screen reticule will govern your aim at all times. The features of the Dualshock 4 will be used in the game as well (touch pad and speaker), but we’ll have to wait and see for the specifics.
Arriving early in the generation could work both ways for inFAMOUS: Second Son. On the technical front, it will be fascinating to see whether Sucker Punch can show the step up between generations and whether the extra processing power of the PS4 can be put to good use. Otherwise, it could end up like one of those games that starts to look aged after a few short years. In any case, there looks to be some impressive work put into the motion capture for each of the characters, in order to bring life into them. And as mentioned before, Seattle is the perfect place if you want to show off diverse weather patterns. The now ubiquitous Troy Baker lends his talents to Deslin’s character, and given his performances in last year’s blockbusters, hopefully he’ll transcend Deslin from a wannabe hipster to someone we actually want to get behind.
While it may not be quite considered the flagship PlayStation title, inFAMOUS: Second Son is still a title that deserves some attention. And not only for the primary reasons mentioned above – it being the first open-world title of the next generation. Heck, the fact that you get something new to play on your PlayStation 4 should be reason enough! In any case, it will be interesting to see just how far this new technology can go and almost as importantly, has there been any evolution to moral choices in game design?