Seven Years Later, and still a groundbreaking achievement
Sleepless in Seattle...
As someone that’s fascinated by the evolution of gaming, I tend to revisit the past upon the arrival of new hardware. Yes, I do like to make comparisons to comprehend how far we’ve come every near-decade. The historical leap between generations has been argued by many to be stifled by bottlenecked hardware that is perceived to be already pushed to its limitations. That could not be farther from the truth. Privileged, I’m able to quickly check back on history’s catalogue to decipher connections made in long running series’ such as the inFamous franchise. From PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4, the leap Sucker Punch Productions demonstrated is immeasurable, while some questioned Sony’s hardware ascension quite pre-maturely. InFamous Second Son was PlayStation 4’s exhibition on full display.
The open world-sandbox Seattle, leading a dystopian-esoteric lifestyle that had graphed a sensational mutiny under the guide of an unlawful dictatorship. A metropolis morphed by Martial Law, with sworn guards roaming the street armed to protect everyday civilians from the misappropriations of a small-town Native American on the hunt for retribution. The oppressive regime does its best to redefine Earth’s Conduit’s as “Bio-Terrorists”, leading a rebellion against the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P. or DUP’s). A narrative that ties into InFamous’ legacy, from Empire City – a fictional depiction of New York – with original lead Cole MacGrath, instructed to detonate a device known as a Ray Sphere that effectively triggers a dormant gene in his DNA, while killing off those without it.
A malevolent force is unintentionally awoken and imposes a war on humanity. With Second Son following the “Hero” route, there was only one viable outcome; self-sacrifice. MacGrath activates an anti-Ray Sphere which supposedly eradicates Earth’s populous of all living Conduits, including Office John White – also known as “The Beast”. Unfortunately, the nuclear weapon only managed to wipe out Conduits living close within the range of river city New Marais. This left the American Government no alternative but to begin an initiative to scour the globe for anyone that may harbour the Conduit gene, whether it be active or dormant. The militia recruited those that entailed the gene, with Brooke Augustine leading as their Prime Conduit. The turncoat tycoon abuses her abilities for freedom, while feeding her warped vision of justice against her assailants. An astounding account that was used to forge a conceptualised reality within Washington State.
So here we are, Seven years taken from inFamous Second Son’s initial launch. While I knew what to expect from the plot, I had forgotten how insanely gorgeous the title is in overall design. I was again enthralled by moments of expeditious pacing; swat teams of DUP’s swarming my surroundings, armed with heavy artillery and ready to strike. Russian drug dealers brigading overrun territories, and protesters brainwashed by their ruler’s ideologies. A paradise circumvented with profound communism, longing for utopia. Building on the series’ well established foundations, dissecting the protagonists arsenal with a range of new capabilities was a deviation that told the player to leave all inhibitions behind. A new world was at their fingertips in this awe-inspiring release for an entirely new generation.
Sucker Punch demonstrated an ability to continue their evolving property from the unrealistic estate that cornered a cartoon fantasy, yet transfer facets to a reality that seemed possible. If you revisit inFamous’ initial story on the PS3, you may find its design to be a deep cut in comic book reference, while Second Son contrasts design aspects for a relatable approach. The juxtapose is paramount to Second Son’s allure, separating its third entry in presentation, but interestingly keeping it faithful within lore. The round-about gameplay loop divulges an immersive expedition through controlled sectors of Seattle. While Second Son’s map may not boast a broad terrain like a GTA V Los Santos, it supersedes its previous entries with an incredibly scaled rendition of Seattle, that’s easily traversed by our new hero, Delsin Rowe.
The title lead a revolution in the industry, with great confidence that it would outlast and carry the inFamous franchise above Sony's growing fundamentals with respect and integrity.
Second Son’s success bolstered PlayStation’s promise, launching SONY’s fourth consecutive home console in stratospheric levels of amazement. Art design, lighting, shaders, aperture, elemental particles, reflection without ray tracing, and real time dynamic weather patterns; these “minute” feats were groundwork in the PS4’s juvenile juncture. Sucker Punch also paved the way for other studios to include Photo-Mode, an innovative feature that posed as the perfect social media integration tool, not only promoting Second Son’s attractive atmosphere, but the home console’s opulent potential. Is this a love letter to the PlayStation 4’s primordial period? Possibly. But it’s also a testament to Second Son and Sucker Punch’s unbelievable achievement in outlasting an entire generation, only to identify as an equivalent to corresponding releases at the beginning of PlayStation’s latest tech in the PS5.
Replaying inFamous Second Son this past week, I was floored. A compelling campaign, an exquisite representation of Seattle, an exorbitant offering of objectives and an encroaching list of seamless abilities. Delsin’s streamlined repertoire could be fierce, yet never formidable. While each power harnessed a delectable indulge of delightful menace, I decided to complete my latest run at Good Karma as I believe it’s much more of a challenge in avoiding accidental collisions between the DUP’s and the innocent. Unlike New Marais however, Seattle’s list of worldly impediments and hurdles are at a minimum by comparison, so I do understand and appreciate the criticism some had expressed upon Second Son’s deliverance. Performances from a cavalcade of voice acting royalty shows a great connection with two real-life best friends portraying brothers in Delsin played by the incomparable Troy Baker, and Critical Role’s Travis Willingham as Reggie.
Of course, the well documented awkwardness of seeing your best friend make-out with your wife is another thing, but it made the prokinetic’s relationship with his Conduit cohort more believable. I’m of course referencing the sensational Laura Bailey, and her role as reformed junkie and First Light protagonist, Abigail “Fetch” Walker. A trio of highly regarded, well established voice actors in their respective element, Second Son was essentially their gaming break-out title, which had them deviate from a strong Anime presence, which all three were wildly popular for. While Troy had just seen success as Joel in Naughty Dog’s 2013 release of The Last of Us, Second Son was simultaneously developed before a planned release in November that year, not before a delay caused the title to be pushed to March, the following year.
While there were forgotten features that were made emphatic for Second Son’s release, most were left behind in PlayStation 4’s legacy. The SixthAxis motion controls and inbuilt speaker simulated the rattle of a paint can with our main character marking his territory. The transition of powers, with sounds that signified replenishment through the DualShock (now Dualsense) pushed the premise of realism further. A quirky gimmick that unfortunately didn’t make it through a supposed planning phase. Interactable objects ascended through hardware improvements, deep diving into a diverse range of possibilities unseen beforehand. While inFamous Second Son sits primarily within the annals of Sucker Punch’s history, its correlation and exchangeability to our current slate of Next Gen games remains remarkably parallel. The team could easily patch in adaptive trigger elements, haptic feedback, and call it a remaster.
InFamous Second Son is timeless – at least for the foreseeable future. That is until we see another entry, or possibly an entirely new IP claim its throne for a Super-powered conduit and their endless escapades through the universe. I’m elated that I managed to revisit this awesome platformer; it gave me perspective in how quality development from respectable studios that show passion in their projects go a long, long way. The title lead a revolution in the industry, with great confidence that it would outlast and carry the inFamous franchise above Sony’s growing fundamentals with respect and integrity. I long for, with great ambition that we may see a return to the inFamous series, whether it be with Delsin, Cole or Fetch. But I do believe that Sucker Punch has unfinished business, which could base a preliminary bedrock for the next evolution in gaming.
Infamous Second Son is a 2014 action-adventure video game developed by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 4. It is the third installment in the Infamous series. The game was released worldwide on March 21, 2014.