They say that beauty resides in many things, but I never remember them saying the words “pixel fluidity”. With Sucker Punch’s inFamous: Second Son out in a mere week, it’s great to have recently had a chance to get my hands on the final product, test driving the mechanics while drooling over its technical showcase.
If you’ve spent any time with the series, you’ll remember that a strong narrative is key to your journey, but you’ll also probably have a hard time forgetting how fun its gameplay mechanics were; in Second Son, nothing has changed. Though when I say ‘nothing’ I mean that in the lightest of fashions. Sure, the story seems to be fitting the bill and the gameplay seems tight and familiar, but you don’t have to look far to see that it’s the graphical overhaul that will catch your attention most.
In the small preview I attended I proceeded through an operations base, as Delsin aimed to stop surveillance trucks in the area. After failing to pass through a security check-point and raising the alarms for being a conduit, I acted fast and started to tear up my surroundings. What struck me most as I opened up the game were the new facial animations, entirely showcased via the in-game engine. Through even the most subtle movements on Delsin’s face, you could tell his mood and even make out his wrinkles.
If you weren’t already aware, with Cole gone you leave behind the electric powers that he had, however it’s not clear whether you’ll obtain these at a later stage in the game. Instead, Delsin can still absorb powers, though I was using fire and, my favourite, neon. Whilst I peppered my enemies with my great balls of fire (pun intended) I noticed that I couldn’t switch between my powers on the go. In order to change to my neon power, I had to find a sign or neon filled object, so I could therefore pull the power out of it and switch over my abilities. I then had to continue doing this as I switched between fire and neon, keeping an eye out for patches of smoke or chimneys, should I want to turn up the heat. I’ve yet to find out whether you’ll be able to stock up on these powers as you upgrade, however it did change up my tactics in combat, as I actively searched my surroundings for my next power source.
Moving on through the contained enemy base, I came across a large, armoured vehicle, in operation for surveillance over the immediate area. It’s worth noting that throughout the entire process I had a constant feed of instructions from Delsin’s brother, who was aiding me on my next objective. After shooting off the protective guards on the truck, I jumped on top and got to work on its core. With the central computer overheating, I then had to hold up a swiping motion on the PS4’s touch pad, while pressing the R2 button to destroy it. There were many instances outside of this, where I found the use of the touchpad to work rather well, helping me feel more connected to my surroundings.
It wasn’t long until they brought out the big guns, dropping off a heavily armoured guard to start using his brute force to try and take me down. Between the two abilities available on my play through, I found that fire was mainly combat based, while neon provided a faster way of travelling around my environment. If you hold down the circle button in either ability, then you’ll get propelled forward at great speed, which in fire does so in short bursts. In neon, you get a high burst of speed over a longer space, which allows you to travel up walls and over objects in rapid succession. You’ll even notice a trail of your movements left in a pixelated form. I couldn’t stop performing the move, as I drooled over the physics involved within each pixel of vibrant, neon magic.
It doesn’t surprise me that Second Son plays great, I quite frankly expected it to. What does surprise me is how much the extra graphical fidelity manages to compliment it all, and I haven’t even mentioned its clothing physics. I’m so happy that Sucker Punch have been able to build their next heavy-hitting inFamous at the start of the Playstation 4’s life cycle. If this is an indication of what can be done at the beginning, I think you can consider myself in for the long haul. Look out for a review of inFamous: Second Son when it releases on March 21st, exclusively for PS4.