Easily one of the biggest surprises of Sony’s original PS4 reveal was the announcement of inFamous: Second Son from Sucker Punch Productions and the open world superhero sequel quickly became one of the most-anticipated titles of the next console generation.
The inFamous series is fan-favorite PS3 offering – so it didn’t come as a complete surprise to see the project announced as a PS4 launch game. However, the dramatic departure of franchise protagonist Cole MacGrath in favor of newcomer Delsin Rowe (voiced by Troy Barker) left more than a few gamers unsure about the direction of inFamous: Second Son – even if the game’s teaser trailer showed a lot of promise. Of course, players likely remember that MacGrath’s fate was left somewhat open-ended after inFamous 2 – depending on critical final act choices. While it’s still possible that the character could return at some point, a new leading man, real-world Seattle locale, and seven year advancement in the series’ storyline all provide a chance for Sucker Punch to freshen-up the format and deliver the best inFamous game experience yet.
We had a chance to catch a real-time demo of inFamous: Second Son at E3 2013 – which detailed new gameplay features and offered insight into how Sucker Punch Productions is approaching their next-generation super hero title on Sony’s PS4 console.
In case you missed it, check out the latest gameplay trailer for inFamous: Second Son below:
At first glance, inFamous: Second Son could be mistaken for little more than a stock sequel with next-gen visual fidelity. The environments and character designs are highly-realistic – as the PS4 architecture allows for unprecedented fidelity even in a massive open-world experience. In a presentation leading up to the live demo, the Sucker Punch team pointed to a number of minute details in the Seattle sandbox that provide unparalleled immersion for players: water puddles that include mirrored reflections and complex lighting effects, for example.
Fortunately, the differences between inFamous: Second Son and its two predecessors don’t stop there. Fans of the series can rest assured that many of the mechanics they’ve grown to love are present, but the studio is also committed to refreshing the format, and outright cutting elements that didn’t quite work in Cole MacGrath’s outings. Sucker Punch isn’t detailing how many connections Second Son will have to the series storyline (or whether any familiar faces will return); however, we do know that the seven year time jump allowed the studio to continue with the larger super-powered narrative – honoring MacGrath’s impact on the world – while also forging a new direction.
In addition to a fresh character story, Sucker Punch has positioned protagonist Delsin Rowe with an ability that should also significantly change-up the game’s trademark powers. Whereas Cole was primarily tied to electricity (with the addition of ice and fire in the sequel), Delsin is a conduit-power sponge collecting new abilities from nearby super-humans (think Peter Petrelli in Heroes) – meaning that Sucker Punch can include a much wider variety of powers (and boss encounters) without breaking the game’s fiction. The demo featured a new “smoke” mechanic, which allowed Delsin to dematerialize and pass through walls or quickly travel up a building air vent, but gamers can expect the title to include many more unique powers – along with the return of leveling-up abilities (resulting in the high-flying drop attack at the end of the demo).
Check out a brief five-minute sneak peek of the gameplay demoed at E3 2013 below (including the Seattle sandbox and Delsin’s smoke ability):
As indicated, Second Son takes place in a recreated vision of Seattle instead of a fictionalized doppelganger (Empire City and New Marais which were stand-ins for New York City and New Orleans, respectively). This time, gamers will visit actual landmarks in future-set Seattle – though The Emerald City has been altered in the war between conduit-powered individuals and the Department of United Protection. The section of the game demoed at E3 (as seen in the video above) included an increase in destructible elements as well – allowing Delsin to take-out enemies by destroying entire bridges and other platforms. That said, returning inFamous players will remember that impulsively destroying an entire city block could have ramifications on how innocent citizens as well as enemy factions might react to you down the line.
In fact, Sucker Punch promises that choice and consequence still play a significant role in the Second Son story – asserting that specifics will be detailed closer to launch. Still, the studio hinted that choices might be more complicated this round (instead of entirely binary “good” or “evil” choices in previous installments) – with long-term effects that will strain and test Delsin’s personal relationships. If true, Second Son could test gamers with a more interesting set of decisions – keeping the focus on each present choice, instead of reinforcing an earlier decision to be a hero or warlord. Since regularly choosing either selfish or selfless decisions resulted in more powerful abilities, inFamous and inFamous 2 somewhat discouraged actual in-the-moment choice – reinforcing an initial decision throughout the game (instead of encouraging players to genuinely consider the consequences of their actions as they go along).
As a result, while much of Second Son will be familiar to returning players, the studio has clearly put a lot of thought (and over two years development time) into crafting a more fluid, immersive, and rich super-power gameplay experience. Hopefully the promise of a less black or white choice system means that Sucker Punch is also set to deliver an engaging and thought-provoking inFamous story as part of Sony’s next-generation experience.
inFamous: Second Son is currently in development for PS4 with an expected release in Q1 2014.
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