I am left without the usual limitations,” begins Jaime Griesemer, lead game designer at Sucker Punch, on the result of the PlayStation 4’s impressive technical specs. Typically over ambitious when it comes to the size and scope of his games, Griesemer is all smiles when explaining the sights and sounds of inFamous: Second Son, a first quarter- first-party release for the PlayStation 4.
The game is set seven years after the events of inFamous 2, which saw players wracked with a moral choice to sacrifice themselves or, essentially, wipe out humanity. Playing as Delsin Rowe, a 24-year-old graffiti artist and constant disappointment to his lawman brother, the player begins in a world shaped by where the majority of inFamous 2 players apparently finished - on the side of good. Griesemer says the “good Cole” ending is considered canon after analysing PlayStation 3 trophy data and player reactions.
The game follows a familiar playstyle: as with earlier inFamous titles, players are able to explore a fairly full and free open-world. Supernaturally-powered beings known as Conduits are wreaking havoc across the country, both working for and against the fascist police-state organisation the D.U.P.
Griesemer describes the powers as ‘urban’ rather than elemental, following a live demo of the game’s combat and action sequences. Rather than earth, wind and fire, the Conduits are imbued with smoke, concrete and other powers influenced by the Pacific Northwest environs of the game's setting. During the demo, it’s shown that certain Conduits are working for the D.U.P. which hints at the possibility for Rowe to switch sides - something the developers are remaining tight lipped on.
Combat in the game remains familiar, with Rowe flitting around his enemies with a Nightcrawler-esque disintegration effect. Fireballs of all sizes are dispatched to stun enemies, take down bridges and walkways - as well as perform finishing moves that damage large amounts of terrain. Griesemer is quick to point out that the world is not ‘Red Faction’ destructible, but a more balanced scenario keeping the open world in mind.
Rowe’s powers are smoke-based for the time being, although it’s revealed that he has the ability to draw new powers from other Conduits, a series first. The demo itself showed a variety of AI, from an energetic Conduit foe, surfing through thin air on a stack of concrete (think Kwame from Captain Planet) - to the stand-still-and-take-a-beating grunt. Some work still to be done, it seems.
Setting inFamous: Second Son in Sucker Punch’s hometown of Seattle gave the developers a chance to stretch their legs on the new hardware without the need to spend time and resources on research. Lead programmer Chris Zimmerman describes a learning period with the new architecture, after developing exclusively on the PlayStation 4’s Cell architecture for the past seven years. The feeling across the team at Sucker Punch seems to be one of guarded optimism for the future of a platform they’ve only but dipped a toe into.
inFamous: Second Son launches at the start of next year, exclusively on the PlayStation 4.