2014 promises to be a great year as developers start rolling out more content for the now current generation consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One. Both consoles launched with successful numbers in terms of sales but a sparse lineup of release titles has left many gamers chomping at the bit for more. The PS4’s roster was especially lacking considering the large number of studios Sony has employed to develop their exclusive content. But despite the lack luster availability of games to coincide with the system’s unveiling, PlayStation owners will be happy to know that things are about to change. Although the list of games debuting this year is pretty impressive there are a handful of exciting titles that will be exclusive to Sony’s platform. Among those entries are two of 2014’s most highly anticipated releases, The Order: 1886 and inFAMOUS: Second Son.
Readers of this humble column are already aware of my affection towards the inFAMOUS series and I’m certainly not alone. Sucker Punch’s open world super-hero games have become a favorite among the PlayStation community by allowing players to freely explore their environments using superhuman powers. The success of the two previous installments in the franchise has raised the level of excitement and expectations in regards to the upcoming sequel, Second Son. From the footage we've seen so far it’s clear that although Second Son resembles its predecessors in terms of gameplay, there are also some huge changes coming our way.
The most noticeable difference between the earlier games and Second Son is the disappearance of the gravel-voiced protagonist, Cole MacGrath. Cole's storyline has finally been closed allowing developers to open up a different chapter in the saga and introduce an entirely new cast. The lineup of new characters is helmed by Delsin Rowe, the game’s teenage protagonist. Delsin’s demeanor and appearance are a stark contrast to what players have grown accustomed to with Cole. Not only is Delsin cocky and brash, but he more closely resembles a well dressed vagabond on his way to the X-Games rather than a brooding bike messenger. I've put my unwavering trust in Sucker Punch’s judgment over the years, but if anything has me concerned about Second Son, it’s the fact that our new hero looks like the “edgy” member of a boy band.
The new look will certainly take some getting used to, but once players come to terms with the beanie clad character they’ll see there are a number of story possibilities with Delsin. His age and arrogance create complex undertones that are eerily reminiscent of the 2012 sci-fi thriller, Chronicle. This concept undoubtedly gives developers a lot of freedom with where to take the narrative as Delsin will have to mature along with his dangerous abilities. In the past players were provided the opportunity to make decisions based on the Karma system that not only altered the game’s story, but also the character’s powers and appearance (let’s just hope evil Delsin isn’t sporting eyeliner). Given the setup for our new underage hero it seems the Karma system will be more influential than ever…because as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.
Aside from the characters and story the biggest change from previous games is the location. For the first time in the series’ history developers have chosen a real city as the setting. The fictitious locales of Empire City and New Marais have been replaced with a faithful recreation of Seattle, Washington. Since Sucker Punch's studio is located in Seattle the choice seems obvious, but it also happens to be the same setting for the aforementioned movie, Chronicle. Although this is most certainly coincidental it does still add to the similarities between the two projects. Sucker Punch's version of the city is not only filled with recognizable landmarks but it’s also the most believable world we've seen in an inFAMOUS title. The crowded streets and destructible elements make the environment a dynamic playground for those endowed with superhuman powers. The amount of detail has also been severely increased thanks to the processing power of the PS4. In addition to a wide range of civilians scattered about, the building models and high resolution texture maps make the digital version of Seattle look as beautiful as its real world counterpart.
The gameplay seems fairly similar to what we've seen in the past with the exception of an increased emphasis on fluidity. This time around our hero has been endowed with the powers of Smoke and Neon. Delsin’s ability to transform into an inky cloud of vapor and traverse the sides of buildings via ventilation shafts makes jetting around the city more effortless than ever. And while there is somewhat of a debate going on over which power is the best, all we know at this point is that veterans of the series will feel right at home with their new abilities. A few enhancements have been made to the controls to utilize the DualShock 4 but for the most part the gameplay is true to what we've come to know and love about the inFAMOUS titles.
Many fans were disappointed to learn that inFAMOUS: Second Son wouldn’t be shipping with consoles last November after being listed as one of the console's "launch" titles. Sony stated their somewhat questionable classification of the game simply meant that it was set to release in Q1 of this year (still within the "launch" window) and not alongside the PS4. Thanks to a follow up announcement from Sucker Punch we now know that Second Son will be launching on March 21st and we couldn’t be happier. Not only is inFAMOUS: Second Son the next evolution in a beloved franchise of games, but it also marks the first major release of a year that’s going to be filled with content for the new consoles. I think I can speak for the entire community when I say that we’re more than excited to see what Sucker Punch and the rest of the developers have in store for us in 2014.