You could never accuse Seattle-based first-party studio Sucker Punch of not listening to its fans. Many berated the first entry in its superhero series inFAMOUS for the obnoxious personality of supporting star Zeke, and so it spent the entirety of the PlayStation 3 title’s sequel trying to redeem the character – a measure which culminated in the release’s, er, infamous rooftop scene. Similarly, at the behest of requests for more powers, it built next-gen sequel inFAMOUS: Second Son around superpower sponge Delsin Rowe, a Native American with a penchant for whatever abilities he can lay his hands on. But it’s not just the big bits of feedback that the outfit is willing to open its ears to.
With its Washington jaunt remaining the best looking product currently available on the PlayStation 4, the developer spotted the influx of screenshots being shared using the system’s share functionality – and so it swiftly patched in a photo facility designed to help fledgling photographers to capture the game’s city setting in all of its drizzly glory. This has gone on to become a surprising success for the studio – and a sneaky marketing tool for Sony – prompting competitions on message boards, and even getting a mention during the platform holder’s big E3 2014 press conference last month. But is this a feature that more outfits should target with their development viewfinders?
While the Japanese giant’s next-gen console makes it incredibly easy to take snaps, the abovementioned mode allowed you to really get creative with your works of art. In addition to removing the user interface, it also enabled you to reposition the release’s camera in real-time, add effects, blur, filters, and much more. This level of depth is ordinarily reserved for racing games like Gran Turismo 6, but it got a lot of mileage in Sony’s superhero game, and ultimately added plenty of replay value to a release that – if we’re honest – doesn’t have a whole lot to keep you coming back once you’ve completed its campaign a couple of times.
And it’s left us pondering why more games don’t incorporate a similar feature. We’re rapidly approaching a point now where releases are reaching photo realistic visuals, so why not allow us the opportunity to explore – and store – the developer’s artwork in all of its glory? Imagine being able to capture a snap of Nathan Drake peering over a convenient stack of boxes as he targets troops in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, or a shot of a purple fireball emerging from Ryu’s battle hardened palms in the inevitable Street Fighter V. Publishers are already used to manipulating the camera angles of their game engines for official screenshots and such, so it shouldn’t take too much work to give us access, too.
We suppose that some developers may not want their titles to be exposed to such scrutiny, but in the case of beautiful endeavours like inFAMOUS: Second Son, it can have a positive effect – after all, who’s honestly averse to a bit of eye candy? But the feature doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to next-gen spectacles either – a title such as Tearaway proved with its staggering suite of photography options that you can tap into the creative psyche of most players by simply providing quality tools and plenty of pretty things to look at. It’s not hard to imagine how a title like, say, Entwined, could use a similar kit to allow you to snap something interesting.
Photo modes are never going to make or break a game, but they do have the ability to elevate a good one that step further. Even if you don’t have the desire to be especially creative yourself, it’s always fun exploring the output of others – and if Sony overhauled the PS4’s somewhat messy ‘What’s New’ application in the future, it could easily make getting to the very best content that much easier. With firms frequently searching for new ways to engage their fans and promote their games from a peer-based perspective, perhaps it’s time that more releases started to facilitate the inner-photographer inside all of us.
Would you like to see more photo modes in games, or do you think that said functionality would prove little more than a waste of resources? Take our picture in the comments section below.
Would you like to see more photo modes in games? (28 votes)
Yes, I love it when a release lets me express myself
Hmm, I’m not really fussed
No, I’ve no interest in taking pretty virtual pictures
Please login to vote in this poll.