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DoubleTake: InFamous: Second Son

Posted on August 23, 2013 AT 05:00pm

Emerald City Glitter

Josh I think, by now, everyone in the world knows that inFAMOUS: Second Son will be one of the most important titles to release within the first six months of the PS4 launch. The first-party games coming out during this timeframe aren’t bad, per se, but they’re also fairly conventional in terms of genre and design. We know it’s not that revolutionary to make a prettier first-person shooter, and we’re definitely used to prettier driving games, but upping the scope, detail, and visual fidelity of an open-world game is a much tougher feat. At the same time, Second Son makes so many changes to the franchise—easily one of Sony’s biggest—that’s it’s not clear what kind of reception it’s in for. So, Ray, after seeing a bit of the game in action at Gamescom, how are you feeling? System-seller or flop?
I’m in the “system-seller” camp, but a little less so than I was before. While our demo gave us a little more insight into Delsin’s character and the open world he’ll explore, the focus was on the use of the DualShock 4. Although the guys at Sucker Punch were really excited to utilize the controller’s new speaker (tech that’s been around since the Wii, by the way) and the touchpad, I feel that if they’re not careful, they could get into gimmicky territory. Needing the touchpad to perform certain mundane actions in the world is one thing, but the pressure-sensitive stealth kills? I’d still much rather push a regular button. When you really get into a game, you stop thinking “pushing triangle will make me use this power” and just naturally press that button because you need to use that power at a particular time. With the touchpad, I don’t think you’ll get that natural, streamlined thinking because of its uncomfortable placement on the controller, and that could break immersion for gamers, no matter how pretty digital Seattle may be. Ray
Josh To a certain extent, I think that’s true. Whenever there’s a new controller with a new input method, developers seem to almost force themselves to use it, even if it’s on a subconscious level. Remember using the Sixaxis to balance as you walked across logs in the first Uncharted? Remember doing it in Uncharted 2? Point proven. And Second Son‘s game director, Nate Fox, confirmed to me that the touch-based interactions will not be optional (though the controller-speaker stuff will be, in case you want to play in bed with headphones while your partner’s sleeping). But, I mean, if I’m being honest, they don’t appear to be that intrusive. The worst was probably, as you said, having to use them for stealth takedowns, since I’m afraid I’ll accidentally press some buttons on the way up to swipe that thing. The other examples were fairly benign, like holding up a generator core with your left thumb on the pad so you can punch it with the trigger. That’s just a slightly improved quicktime event, to me. Not exciting, but not the end of the world.
I just worry there’s going to be a mission where I have to be quiet and I end up blowing the whole damn place up because my thumb doesn’t comfortably stretch far enough to use that touchpad. Besides this, though, I’m still pumped for Second Son, because we also learned a new power: neon. At first, I’ll admit, I thought neon sounded like the stupidest power ever. But it continues with the theme to use less “mainstream” powers—like electricity, fire, and ice from the first two games—and to try different ideas, like smoke. While Fox wouldn’t give us any hard details on what Delsin could do with neon, you’ve got to figure there are going to be some offensive, defensive, and transportive abilities in there. Neon’s a volatile gas, so maybe you can blow stuff up. Or blend into neon signs like camouflage. Or travel through neon tubes to explore different areas. I’m just speculating here, but considering Delsin’s getting a lot more powers than these, I’m pumped up for sure. Ray

Josh Ray, neon is not a volatile gas in that sense of the word. Neon is a noble gas, which means it has eight valence electrons at its highest energy level, a trait that makes it incredibly difficult to react with. Neon is inert. But your lack of chemistry knowledge aside, I do appreciate all the stuff you mentioned. With Delsin getting multiple unique power sets this time around, I think there’ll be a lot more variety to the gameplay, and the visual impressiveness of the smoke and neon effects still floors me every time I see them. I also really appreciate the fact that we don’t have any idea what neon does. I’m so used to superpowers like the ones you mentioned, that are so well-worn that you know exactly what you’ll be able to do with him. Oh, fireballs, ice beams, chain lighting, obviously. But with smoke, neon, and (presumably) whatever else we get down the line, those movesets aren’t going to be obvious. There’s no expectation, so they’re free to deliver some really clever stuff. I hope it all comes together as nicely as it seems it will.
Damn you, Wikipedia. You’ve failed me again. I never was any good at chemistry. Anyway,  what I really liked about the powers was that they seem to come from the layout of Seattle itself. Smoke from sewer grates, neon signs—these are things that you see everywhere in Seattle. Of course, maybe with this logic, that means Delsin’s other powers involve Starbucks or abundant amounts of rain. Speaking of rain, the dynamic weather system and water effects are superb. I know part of this is from the technological advancements with the next-gen hardware, but you’ll have standing puddles of water after a storm that reflect their surroundings, and you could theoretically have a fight spill over from one part of the city in a downpour to another where the sun’s still shining. Mind you, it’s not a perfect 1:1 re-creation of Seattle due to enemy bases and blockades and whatnot, but at least you’ll be able to climb the Space Needle. Ray
Josh Yeah. As someone who’s driven around the Pacific Northwest quite a bit, I’m looking forward to seeing how Seattle comes across in the game, especially in terms of how they blend in a lot of the more natural, forested areas on the outskirts of the city. Sucker Punch did a great job with the swamps of New Marais, and Fox did tell me there will be some similar elements of nature involved in Second Son—though he shied away from any concrete details. You know, Ray, now that I think about it, a rain-based power would be a great fit for Seattle, and it could probably be interesting gameplay-wise, too. Going up into clouds, flying for a little bit, then raining back down into human form. Oh, or grunge. Delsin could control transform into sound waves, but only if the music is lo-fi and gritty enough. No, no, wait. I’ve got it. Delsin’s next power is hipsters.

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