Set to launch in early 2014, inFamous Second Son may be arriving late to the party but is definitely one to watch, already bearing the hallmarks of a next-gen flagship.
Let’s begin with what we already know. Developed by Sucker Punch, Second Son is somewhat of a new start for the series. Set eight years after the events of inFamous 2, the Sly studio have retired Cole McGrath and America’s East Coast in favour of a new character and setting.
- Delsin is of Native American descent, rebellious and big on expressive street art. After saving passengers from a roadside accident he discovers that he can direct and manipulate smoke. He also has a brother, Reggie, a Seattle cop constantly getting him out of trouble.
This time around we’re playing as Delsin Rowe, a hot-headed, twenty-something brought up by his Native American family just out of Seattle. With a penchant for mischief and a distaste for control, he’s immediately separable from Cole McGrath and serves as the perfect gateway into Second Son’s futuristic, paranoid depiction of America.
When deciding where to take the series next, Sucker Punch opted for inFamous 2’s “Good” karmic ending as a springboard. Not only was it the most logical choice in terms of continuity; by analysing trophy data Sucker Punch found it reflected the decisions of most players during their initial playthroughs.
To recap, Cole sacrifices himself to destroy an apocalyptic entity known as The Beast. In doing so he stamps out a growing pandemic, killing hundreds of Conduits in the process – super-humans, many of whom were not even aware of their powers. Before the credits even started to roll, Sucker Punch had successfully tied up Cole’s saga whilst creating network of potential protagonists to pick up the torch after his departure.
Eight years later, Conduits are on the run. A government agency known as the DUP is looking to snare every would-be super hero or villain up and down the country. All of sudden America, this so-called land of the free, becomes a place of fear, paranoia and censorship. However, not everyone is prepared to surrender willingly and, after discovering powers of his own, Delsin takes the fight to the DUP in a bid to reclaim the city.
As touched on before, Delsin and Cole are both worlds apart. Where Cole was somewhat dubious and unsure of how to use his powers, Delsin embraces it as a blessing. Like previous games in the series, Second Son will feature a karma system though, by default, our new protagonist is already treading the fringes. He may be much more overt and reckless than Cole, yet Delsin stays true to his motives, whichever direction players decide to push him.
The section of gameplay we got to see was taken from a relatively early portion of Second Son, the same that was demoed during this year’s E3. As soon as the game loads we’re immediately dropped into Seattle with the iconic Space Needle in close proximity. Occupied by DUP forces, the landmark is one of many bases in Second Son which can be recaptured, similar to how factions and territory were handled in previous iterations.
To win back the area, Delsin can approach the Needle in a number of ways either by air, land, or a seamless combination of both. Though we didn’t get to play the game ourselves, we got an almost tangible sense of how the game plays and, more importantly, how it feels on the Dualshock 4. Still in third person, Second Son combines platforming, shooting and melee combat, spreading the action across huge, explorable environments.
Though navigation has seen a noticeable refinement, its the shooting gameplay that really shines through in Second Son. This time around, lightning bolts have been subbed for smoke projectiles. Not only that, the aiming reticle is always on-screen without needing to hold down L1, eradicating the clunky break in seamlessness that previously existed. This change was introduced after Sucker Punch brought in a specialist from Halo creators, Bungie, making firefights much more fluid and enjoyable to watch.
Even when out of combat, Second Son is still a feast for the eyes. In creating a vast open world, Sucker Punch pushed themselves to give every inch of Seattle the same amount of detail and attention. From NPC animations to the dynamic reflections found on almost every surface, it’s gorgeous top-to-bottom, easily giving Killzone: Shadow Fall a run for its money.
As players progress, so too will Delsin’s super-human capabilities. Like Cole, he will be able to absorb other powers throughout the game, confirming the presence of other Conduits in Seattle. Though they could confirm that much, Sucker Punch weren’t ready to unveil any potential super-villains or sidekicks we may find in-game.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, inFamous Second Son looks like it could be an unforgettable open-world experience, leading Sony’s next-gen stable into 2014.