InFamous is, I think, one of PlayStation’s most under-appreciated franchises. The first one was a decent third person, super-powered action adventure but the second one really ironed out the wrinkles and did a great job of polishing up the original’s rough spots. InFamous Second Son looks like it’s done the same again, adding another layer of polished accomplishment to a great playing series of games.
I wasn’t allowed to play the PlayStation 4 title, due out in Q1 2014 but I got to watch a demonstration playthrough that showed off plenty of combat and the various types and uses of new protagonist Delsin Rowe’s smoke based powers. He’s got the ability to leech powers from other characters with abilities but they’re not saying much about that right now – other than that it’s obviously an important part of the game and it might play interesting role in the narrative – including the moral choices that you as a player have to make.
Those moral choices too, are something that Sucker Punch is remaining somewhat tight lipped about. I asked if there would still be a recognisable ‘good’ and ‘bad’ branching system to the power levelling but the best answer they could give me was that while the upgrading of powers was very important to the way InFamous plays, they weren’t willing to go into depth about how it worked and whether there were points of no return or the either/or system that has existed in previous games.
It is perhaps unfair to read too much into the tone of the responses I got. That said, there was a heavy emphasis on how the progression of powers might feed into the narrative and that sometimes there might be a certain amount of ambiguity in whether a choice is good or bad. It sounds like choices might not be so black and white this time around.
There was also a fairly vague response to the question of what drove the game’s enemy forces – the Department of United Protections (DUP) – to harness certain super powered troops. Were they purposely created to help fight the super powered population? There’s no definitive answer just yet but there’s certainly plenty of scope to play around with that kind of sinister side of these oppressive security forces.
The combat itself looks fantastic, although it was only Delsin’s standard smoke powers on show, the visual effects that go into those powers are quite spectacular. Wisps of smoke rise as your fiery projectiles streak towards enemies, Delsin sparks and sheds cinders as he whips his chains into them and hazy heat streaks from his hands as he glides and zips through air vents to find higher ground.
There’s obviously still a way to go with development and what I saw today was only one small slice – clearing out one security outpost to claim back a section of the city from the DUP – but it’s visually impressive and looks solid so far. Sucker Punch looks to be harnessing a good deal of the PS4’s power in those particle effects and the protagonist’s running, climbing and jumping all looked as responsive as his punching, shooting and whipping did.
So there’s a lot still to answer about the game but there’s still plenty of time to answer it. What they are willing to show off and talk about is shaping up to be another great step forward for the series and it sounds like there are some interesting grey areas in the progression of powers and moral decisions that I’ll look forward to finding out more about as we get closer to its release.