inFAMOUS: Second Son Hands-On Preview

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It seems like forever since I got to play inFAMOUS: Second Son in NYC, and that’s partly because the game has come a long way since then. We were first treated to a hands-off gameplay demo by producer Greg Phillips, showing the same start-point that our hands-on demo would use.

As in previous games in the series, choices you make affect your overall Karma, tipping the scales to either “good” or “bad” depending on those choices and also how you choose to play the game. Execute enemies, and you’ll add to the “bad” side, help innocents get out of danger and you’ll start trending to the “good” side of the meter. This time around though, it doesn’t seem that the shift to one side or the other is absolute, but instead can waver back-and-forth. In my limited time though, I can’t really comment on how much things can change.

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When the demo starts, we’re introduced to a young conduit named Fetch. ‘Conduits’, that’s what they call people with powers in this world. Fetch has been killing drug dealers throughout the city and your brother wants to lock her up because he considers what she’s doing murder. You then get to make the choice, do you train her to use her powers for good, or do you join with her in taking the drug dealers out?

Greg, of course, chose to join her in vigilante justice, and Delsin’s “bad” powers showed their true impact. The two powers available to Delsin in this demo, no matter which way the Karma meter was leaning toward, were based on Smoke and Neon. Both powers have their strengths and weaknesses and since you can only use one at a time, strategy is always something you need to think about.

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You still seem to have the ability to “shoot” in the traditional sense with both of these powers, and both have a grenade of sorts. Both will also allow you to jump and glide from high-up, which is pretty essential when you want to stay off the streets. With smoke, you’ll be able to traverse through pipes and grates etc., which can be very helpful to get the drop on your enemies and to get to tough to reach locations. With the neon power, you’ll be able to run very fast, including the ability to run straight up the side of a building or structure.

You switch powers by replenishing with that specific “fuel”. So, if you want to use smoke powers, get up on a roof and find a chimney or destroy a car so you can suck-up the remnants of the explosion. If you want to use neon, find a sign on the side of a building or an ‘Open’ sign on the inside of a window. Both are replenished by holding the touchpad for a few seconds, and that’s not the only time that you’ll use the touchpad. You’ll also swipe at certain times to open a door or lift the cover off of a chest, and even to tag a specific building so that Fetch knows which one to interact with. It’s not overused, and the touchpad elements are intuitive, at least as far as I played.

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The difference between the good and bad side of your powers really comes down to the violence. On the good side, your smoke grenades merely stun your enemies, so that you can bind them instead of outright murder. What will also be available though, no matter if you’re leaning toward the good or the bad, is a new super-move that’s available when you fill a meter up. I don’t want to spoil it but not only is it simply stunning to watch, the effective aftermath is quite pleasing as well.

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Visually the game is a stunner, with sharp textures, complex architecture, and mind-blowing lighting. Nate Fox made it a point that if you choose, you could actually travel all the way to the downtown seen far off in the distance, which is something I’m still not used to in this new generation. The scope of the city and surrounding areas is seemingly huge, and you can pretty much see all of it if you can get a high enough vantage point. I know I just mentioned it, but I can’t help but talk about how great the lighting is. Everything reacts to lights the way you’d expect, and even the use of HDR when you transition from dark to light is extremely well-done. Find a crowded street and stand-still for a few seconds. You’ll quickly notice everything reflecting in the water collecting on the street, from the different lights to the pedestrians walking by. Transitions between what you perceive as a cutscene to gameplay is seamless, because finally characters and surroundings look just as good in-game as they do in what we’re used to as video files.

Something that we’ve already seen in this new generation are the performances that can be conveyed visually on the characters. Now you’ll see much more depth in the eyes and facial expressions no matter if you’re in a cutscene or not. Also, as much as I played, there was nary a load at all, except for when I initially started the demo. That shouldn’t be a surprise though since that’s something the inFAMOUS games have always handled extremely well. One possible issue I did notice though, and make sure you remember that this isn’t the final game that I was playing, is that there didn’t seem to be any shadows for characters unless the sun was out. So in the tunnel sequence with all of the light sources all around, no shadows are visible. Yeah, it’s concerning, but again, this wasn’t the final, retail build of the game.

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Audio, again, is excellent. I used the new Gold Wireless Headset while I played, and the sound is beefy and abundant from every direction. The separation of all of the elements presented was superb, so expect to hear a lot more of the environment around you than you’re probably used to. I can’t end this without talking about the voice acting though, as the three characters I encountered were incredibly believable. Troy Baker as Delsin is, simply put, awesome. He brings an emotional connection that’s rare in videogames, and people that heard his Joker in the latest Batman: Arkham game, and obviously his portrayal of Joel in The Last of Us know what I’m talking about. Laura Bailey playing Fetch is another that really grabbed me as if I was watching a movie. She’s fantastic, and I can’t wait to play the full game to experience the relationship they build. Look them both up on IMDb. I think you’ll be surprised when you realize that you’ve heard them both in quite a few games already.

So, I’ve now probably played inFAMOUS Second Son for around 2 hours, and as a fan of the first two games, I finally feel like this is the game that Sucker Punch always wanted it to be, thanks to the PS4′s additional capabilities. Controls are tight and responsive, and now that the framerate never stutters, everything just feels so much better. As a fan of the inFAMOUS series, I couldn’t be more excited to get my hands on the full game. It’s what I always wanted inFAMOUS to be.

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • Jahonius

    Great preview, Glenn!

    The only infamous I ever got to play was infamous 2, and to be honest, I was not very convinced. I liked the American comic book-like elements in the cutscenes, and the idea that you could either go evil or good with consequences.

    This, finally, will be a worthy PS4 title right after KillZone, and I’m really excited!

  • ChazzH69

    I love this series and cannot wait for this latest iteration. I have a platinum trophy for both and will probably go for it this time round as well.

  • acho13

    Really am looking forward to this. Having only recently played and finished the first infamous game and part way into the 2nd seeing the jump between the two makes what you say about finally making the game they’ve always wanted to make alot of sense.

  • himdeel

    Cannot wait! Good preview :)

  • Sunnycyde

    Great preview and I’m glad it is sounding like it’s going to be a good game. I hope e gameplay lives up to the looks of the game. Can’t wait to try it out, multiplayer or not, I’ll be buying it day one.