By Humanity 26 Comments
As some of you may know, this month PS Plus offered First Light up for grabs, the stand alone DLC to InFamous: Second Son. Being a PS4 owner that had never played the base game I decided to give it a go; why not right? I ended up really disliking First Light for a variety of reasons. I didn’t think it looked great, the city felt drab and lifeless, the missions were boring and I disliked the character, her story and powers. Yet, something at the end of that DLC grabbed my attention. Suddenly the game became a little more set-piece story driven and a little less open world meandering. I had watched the first 15-20 minutes of Second Son online at some point and it reminded me of that. So I took a chance and bought Second Son on the cheap, and it’s a good thing I did because I absolutely loved it.
Second Son is a game that I think just went on it’s way after release. People said it looked great but I didn’t hear a lot of talk about how well it played. Some folk mentioned how the developers probably never even looked at what the map of Seattle actually looks like but that was about it. Well I’m here to tell you fellow bombers, the game is great.
Just to get it out of the way, yes, Second Son looks absolutely gorgeous and is probably one of the best looking next gen games I’ve played on the PS4. The very opening of the game has you jumping around a beachside with beautiful sun rays streaming in, great water effects and detailed textures that are all a joy to behold. The particle effects on the different powers you use look spectacular and everything just seems crisp and clean like how ‘next gen’ games should all feel. Second Son also utilizes all the strengths of the new console. It is colorful, vibrant and makes use of the PS4’s bag of tricks including the touchpad and motion controls. In my personal opinion it is the game for showcasing the strengths and unique capabilities of the console.
But looks aren’t everything of course. One of the very first things that Second Son does extremely well is the way it loads up. When you launch the game from the XMB it loads directly into gameplay - a small thing but it’s literally mind blowing. You don’t have to X way your past 3 different title screens, logos or menus - you launch it and the first thing that loads up is your character in the gameworld, ready to go. More games should do this. In fact all games should do this.
But why am I so in love with Second Son when I absolutely disliked everything about First Light? Well it’s probably because Second Son did everything for me that First Light simply didn’t. In a recent thread about the DLC my main complaint was the Fetch, the protagonist of First Light, had a traversal power that completely trivialized the environment as it let you run around, up and down walls, without any challenge. All you did was hold a button and went. The city felt extremely barren as well and you mainly faced off against lookalike Dan Ryckert gang members that weren’t very exciting to fight. I realize that in large part my problems stemmed from the fact that I was playing a story filler DLC that is probably meant to be experienced after you beat the main game - after all the fanfare of exploring your powers and the the city is well over with. I didn’t get to experience the well paced exploration and as such was about the write the entire game off.
Second Son does a great boy of steadily introducing you to not only all the powers but also the city itself. Throughout my entire playthrough I probably enjoyed the original smoke abilities the most. Not only do they look amazing but they offer just enough mobility to make traversal fun, without it being a completely mindless act of holding down the ‘go’ button. You have to look for vents, judge your jumps and double dash effectively to get around. It makes you feel powerful, but not omnipotent. There is mission early on that has you climbing the space needle which scratched the exact sort of itch I had. There you are, climbing this incredibly tall structure, aided by your powers but still presented with a challenge. Hanging on with one hand I look down and get a little nervous, the controller gets a little sweatier in my grip because I know one wrong move and I’m falling to my doom. It doesn’t matter that the game will just start me back up at a checkpoint, it’s the thrill of conquering this object that I get the most fun from.
The city also seems a lot more vibrant in the main game as well. There is a decent amount of activities that Delsin can engage in that feel more fleshed out than what was offered in First Light - which seemed tacked on at best. These are all typical side missions that help you take down each district by painting graffiti or destroying security cameras, but they all make sense within Delsins story while they felt weirdly superficial in Fetches.
Listen, I could go on but obviously it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a full game is going to offer a lot more diversity than a short piece of story DLC. I guess what I’m getting at here is that it’s January and not a lot of game are coming out. Some of you might be looking for something fun to play and enjoy open world experiences. I cannot recommend Second Son enough. It is probably the most fun I’ve had out of all these “next gen” games that promised us the moon and barely got off the ground. I think Second Son delivers everything with reasonable expectations - it looks great, it runs well, there are very short loading times, the story is pretty decent and the gameplay is fun, engaging and for the most part varied as you continue unlocking new abilities up to the very end boss battle. You can probably get this game on the cheap right now, so if you want, go ahead and give it a shot. Personally I think it really deserves a lot of praise for being a launch title that delivered way more than games that have had more time with the hardware.