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Preview: Sending Smoke Signals in inFAMOUS: Second Son, the Hottest Exclusive on PS4

Posted by Sammy Barker

Turning up the temperature

Despite a stellar track record, there’s still an air of scepticism surrounding Sucker Punch. The small Seattle-based studio – which was officially inaugurated into the Sony Worldwide Studios family in 2011 – has fashioned some stellar software over the years, but it’s yet to land a smash hit on the scale of Uncharted, God of War, or Gran Turismo. As a consequence, few suspected that the Sly Cooper developer would be tasked with the responsibility of leading the PlayStation 4’s lineup – and yet it’s stepped up to the challenge in heroic fashion. Make no mistake, inFAMOUS: Second Son is the game that will convince you to own Sony’s next generation console.

Unfortunately, much like the title’s fictional resistance group, the Department of Unified Protection, we’re not in control of our demo of the open world adventure, but that gives us more time to gawp at the gorgeous graphics, rather than wrestle with the DualShock 4. Not that the controls are poised to be a problem here, as the first-party team has refined all of the inputs from inFAMOUS 2. “It’s much more fluid now,” a studio spokesperson excitedly informs us. We always felt that the series excelled in that area anyway, so we’re not sure how the mapping can get much better. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out for ourselves.

For those out of the loop, the sandbox excursion takes place approximately seven years after the cataclysmic conclusion of courier Cole MacGrath’s campaign. Following the activation of the Ray Field Inhibitor, the United States of America is under constant surveillance in order to stop a second bioterrorist outbreak. You play a twenty-something tearaway named Delsin Rowe, who discovers that he has smouldering superpowers after dragging a survivor out of a burning bus. Unlike the series’ former protagonist, though, the new hatted hero sees his abilities as a bit of fun.

“Cole MacGrath would get kind of contemplative over his powers,” continues the developer representative. “But that’s just not Rowe at all. His first thought is, ‘This is going to be fun.’” That attitude is best reflected in the title’s E3 trailer, in which the star is shown smirking at the camera while turning into a fiery phoenix and smashing up the surroundings of Seattle’s famous Space Needle. The character’s cocky attitude is already rubbing some fans the wrong way, but the studio doesn’t seem particularly phased. “He’s that guy that you see at a bar and think, ‘Wow, what an idiot – he looks like he’s enjoying himself.’”

And make no mistake, Delsin’s relishing every moment. The character animates with a telling swagger that underlines the technological advancements of the PS4. Stand quietly on the spot, and his denim jacket – decorated with a Sly Cooper pin badge – will ripple in the wind. Push forward harder on the stick and it will flap like an incensed beast, dancing more furiously than Batman’s trademark cape. There’s no question about it: this game takes garment physics to the absolute next level. Oh, the luxuries of enhanced hardware.

But it’s not just the creases of Rowe’s clothing that caught our attention. The fact that this is an open world release is frankly staggering. While we don’t get to see much of the city – we’re taken on a tour of the same environments from the E3 demo – the attention to detail is just mind boggling. Damp puddles on the ground show off the game’s realtime reflections system, which mirror vehicles and scenery like looking glass. In fact, you can see reflections of the water-based reflections, er, reflected in the paint work of cars. It’s a minor detail, but if you’re looking for evidence of improvements over the PlayStation 3, then this title is bursting with clues.

The exclusive looks unbelievably clean, too. Its predecessor was not a bad looking game – in fact, it was lauded for its achievements on current generation hardware – but it was plagued by pop-in and rough edges. There’s no evidence of a jagged surface during our demo, and while it’s obvious that the sample environment has been polished to perfection for the purposes of public consumption, it gives the developer an overall standard to sustain. Seriously, if the rest of the title looks this impressive, it’s going to absolutely blow your brown beanie off.

Alas, the technological improvements are welcome, but the art direction is also excellent. Much like in Killzone: Shadow Fall, the drab textures that previously plagued Empire City have been swapped out for rich, vibrant colours. The studio’s not being entirely candid at the moment, but there also appears to be a much greater emphasis on destructible environments, with lookout towers and walls eviscerated with a well-placed blast of Rowe’s newfound smoke powers. Collapsing entire scaffolding structures to take out a single lone gunman may not be the most considered approach – but it sure seems satisfying.

In fact, all of the powers look legitimately great. As we predicted in our superhero speculation post, the protagonist can travel up vents, offering speedy traversal solutions to the top of buildings. There’s nothing else in the character’s moveset that necessarily separates him from his predecessor – though everything is now complemented by a delicious heat haze as opposed to the glow of electricity – but we’re reminded that the character’s main skill is actually the ability to consume other conduits’ powers. As such, we suspect that the star will end up with access to several unique move sets, likely spanning other common elements such as ice. We asked, but the studio wouldn’t tell us more.

Still, we’re not sure that we really need to know all of the details. Despite not being a part of the initial launch lineup, Sucker Punch’s latest already looks way ahead of its peers. And even though the wait's going to sting more than a face full of cigarette smoke, we reckon that Sony’s making the right move by stockpiling the game's release until early next year. Product droughts have plagued previous platforms, but it’s clear that this is going to be the PlayStation maker’s trump card once the initial excitement surrounding its next generation system has passed. We always held a candle for the superhero series, but having seen the sequel first-hand, we’re ready to light a big, burly bonfire in its name.


Are you wheezing with anticipation for inFAMOUS: Second Son? What other smouldering superpowers would you like Delsin Rowe to possess? Cough up your thoughts in the comments section below.

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User Comments (30)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

This is the one, guys. I'm telling you: this is going to put inFAMOUS on the map at last.

GRIFFEN14

#3

GRIFFEN14 said:

I feel like inFAMOUS has been a very underrated series thus far, even though it has been one of my favorites of this generation. Hopefully this game will indeed put it on the map like Sammy has said.

ztpayne7

#4

ztpayne7 said:

I loved this series, too.

That said, I still have this tiny feeling they might try to work in Cole somehow... who else is Delsin going to learn electricity from?

shingi_70

#5

shingi_70 said:

I really want to see more of Deslin's powers since he's more of an empath than anything else. I wonder if were going to see Sucker Punch give us a more superhero take in this game compared to the past infamous games.

get2sammybAdmin

#6

get2sammyb said:

@ztpayne7 I actually asked about this. According to the person showing the game — and obviously I'm paraphrasing — Delsin will know of Cole, but he also won't give a crap about him (that's his attitude). I asked if Cole would have a significant role in the game, and he said that it's seven years later — Cole's gone.

However, I still tend to agree with you. I reckon Cole/Kessler will show up at some point.

get2sammybAdmin

#8

get2sammyb said:

A few other things I didn't mention in the preview: you no longer have to click L1 to go into 'fire' mode — you can 'shoot from the hip' at any time (I think). Also, all of the morality stuff is back. Touchpad can be used to interact with computers and stuff.

shingi_70

#9

shingi_70 said:

@ztpayne7

I don't think were going to see Cole back in the game in present times but I could see him being heavily mentioned and DUP having his remains under heavy study to try and reverse engineer Conduits abilites.

@get2sammyb

Any word on the multiplayer mode or if they plan to bring in NOn conduit story elements like Vampires or Aliens?

get2sammybAdmin

#10

get2sammyb said:

@Sony_70 Sadly not. I'd personally be down for some horde mode co-op. The powers are so fun in inFAMOUS, I reckon that would work well.

Reverend_Skeeve

#11

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@get2sammyb

Wow. I don't know your internet-personae (or this blog) for that long...but if you're that excited for a hame, that's saying something. Usually, your articles are at least good and most of the time inspiring or insightful. Not that i wasn't über-eager for this game already... ;-)

acdramon

#12

acdramon said:

@get2sammyb Cole and Kessler are two different people technically :P. Just imagine Delsin falling in and alley getting all pissed saying "How the hell am I suppose to control electricity with all these damn puddles?" Then Cole/Kessler comes out and says " I can help with that, the names Kessler." DKLJDLKJDLKJDLDJLKSDJLDKJ I would die.

shingi_70

#15

shingi_70 said:

@acdramon

They're the same person just form different timelines/universes. Pretty sure both cole's are dead, but the title second son has something to do with the first sons.

Ginkgo

#17

Ginkgo said:

Really interested in this game. I have only played the original, never quite got around to the 2nd. For all its faults and repetition, the powers were so much fun I couldn't stop playing.This just looks wicked.

rjejr

#18

rjejr said:

@get2sammyb - "Also, all of the morality stuff is back."

I'm not a fan of the split story lines - I'm too much of a wimp to play evil - but the evil ending was the better of the two in 2. (I basically finished the game maxed out on good then just stood on a corner rooftop and killed people for several hours until i just went over to bad.) I could see why they would follow up from the good ending though. The bad ending you would basically be playing as Godzilla destroying the world, hard to make that interesting.

If it's the sequel to the good ending, even if Cole is dead, Zekes still around isn't he? Maybe he'll put in an appearance to help tie the games together. Like they brought Ripley back for all the Alien movies. He could be sent in by the govt. to try to talk him into surrendering or something.

This will be the game I most miss until I get a PS4. Probably at about the time the sequel comes out I'm afraid.

Gemuarto

#20

Gemuarto said:

Infamous and Dragon's Dogma are my favourite sandboxes on PS3. The only sandboxes that i beat =). Maybe I'll buy PS4 when Infamous come out.

Cloud7794

#21

Cloud7794 said:

Hmm... I can see Zeke making an appearance and leading Delsin to Cole's grave to give him lightning powers for whatever storyline-based reason. That's assuming that he can steal/absorb powers from a dead conduit though. Also, for those who played Infamous 1, Cole/Kessler isn't the only conduit with lightning powers. Also, do conduits die when their power is stolen(or do they even lose their power)? I can see some real Soul Sacrifice-esque elements if that's the case: Kill a Conduit and Gain his power, or allow him to live and be an ever-faithful friend/ally in battle. Game seems great either way!

IAmNotWill

#22

IAmNotWill said:

I'm on my second playthrough of inFAMOUS 2, and I'm a little burnt out on the series to be honest...

...but this game looks freaking incredible. First thing I will get for my PS4!

Gamer83

#23

Gamer83 said:

This game is going to be awesome. So far my most anticipated of the next gen.

JaxonH

#24

JaxonH said:

I never played Infamous before, but went ahead and pre ordered Second Son. How is the game? My only fear is that the open world aspect could get a little dull after a while, just killing the same kind of dudes over and over... Are there boss battles in Infamous games? And does the difficulty ramp up, or is it a pretty easy game?

ViciousDS

#25

ViciousDS said:

@JaxonH there are active events in the city to do. In order to clear presence of the enemies in an area you had to do missions to clear them out and then you could safely trot through them without enemy fire. Plus users could create missions in the 2nd infamous, there were some really cool downloadable missions and the mission editor was pretty popular.

ztpayne7

#26

ztpayne7 said:

@Cloud7794 When I mentioned working in Cole somehow, this is actually one of the scenarios I meant. I know that there are other lightning users, but really...it's going to feel really lame getting the electricity power from anyone but Cole. If lightning based attacks are in the game, I think Cole HAS to make an appearance...dead or alive. Zeke could definitely be the tie-in.

RaymanFan2

#27

RaymanFan2 said:

@get2sammyb Can I just clarify about the reflection thing... So, Delsin can look into a puddle, which will reflect his image, and at the right angle a shiny car's paint will reflect this puddle and the reflection currently displayed in it?

If so, THAT is the next-gen right there :P

get2sammybAdmin

#28

get2sammyb said:

@RaymanFan2 Pretty much, though the example they showed us was of a building being reflected in a puddle, which is also being reflected by the car paint. It's pretty impressive.

MaxaMod

#29

MaxaMod said:

i'm more interested in KZ:SF then this and find it less compelling as well .. my opinion

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