There’s still no explanation at this point as to why this latest Infamous installment is called “Second Son.” What is known is that the hero is named Delsin, his brother is a Sherriff, and Delsin himself is a frustrated hipster graffiti artist—Sucker Punch’s description, not mine—complete with tight jeans and a beanie. The setting for the game is seven years after the events of Infamous 2—presumably the good ending—when anyone with superpowers is now branded a bio-terrorist, and America has shifted to an extreme security lockdown that is Gestappo-like in its severity and intolerance for anyone that falls outside of designated cultural profile.
The demo, which was strictly hands-off, took place at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, and it showed off a lot of the differences between Second Son and its predecessors. One of the big changes is the attitude of the hero, Delsin. Unlike Cole McGrath of Infamous who was a typical, dark, gritty, brooding character that felt his powers were more a curse than anything else, Delsin actually likes his powers, and enjoys using them. The other big change is that Delsin himself is not any ordinary “Conduit,” the Infamous jargon for someone receptive to super empowerment. Delsin shares something in common with Megaman, in that he can absorb the powers of other Conduits and add those abilities to a collection of super powers. For the purposes of the demo, Delsin was confined to “smoke” abilities, which shared a lot of similarity to Cole’s electrical powers from the previous games. He was able to fire off “smoke bolts” for lack of a better term which looked a lot like Cole’s default lightning bolt attack, and when he spewed smoke out of his hands to glide, it was more or less a palette swap for Cole’s original Static Thrusters. But there were also more exotic applications like a column of solidified smoke launching enemies like rocks in a catapult, a “biker chain attack,” that seemed composed of smoke as he whipped it against enemies and even a short teleport attack that screamed “Nightcrawler” from the X-Men.
The game is looking sharp at 1080p and 30 frames per second, but the real attraction here is, unsurprisingly, the scale of the game. Open world games seem to benefit most from the increased processing power of the new consoles, and if Second Son is anything to go by, the next Bethesda game had better not start causing the same problems that Skyrim did on the PS3 because there was a frightening amount of physics going on in this demo. Where most open world games limit damage to vehicles and people on the street, everything from garbage cans to newspaper dispensers to surveillance cameras were blown to pieces during Delsin’s run against the DUP, or Department of Unified Protection, the American unit assigned to containing the “super power human problem.” Particle effects were also used to impressive effect with smoke, flames, sparks and other elemental touches coming from either Delsin himself or the ensuing destruction that erupts during combat.
Delsin can also attack the environment as much as the enemies themselves. The DUP have set up a lot of makeshift decks and platforms during their occupancy of Seattle, and during combat Delsin was able to lay into these platforms and shoot them to pieces or cause them to collapse, bringing down any enemies that happened to be standing on them using them as sniping or crossfire points. There’s even a little touchpad interaction from the Dualshock 4 during combat, as Delsin was tasked with taking out a generator on the roof of a DUP truck and this was accomplished by poking the touchpad to get Delsin to start punching it. The demo then ended with the same shot as the trailers thus far; Delsin soared into the sky then plummeted back down in a power dive with an immense shockwave that permanently destroyed the dinosaur skeleton landmark, as well as taking out the surrounding DUP soldiers.
At this stage, Second Son looks like it will offer the same range of super-powered, open world fun that the previous games did, but at a much bigger, slicker, shinier scale. It’s not a launch title for the PS4, unfortunately, and is scheduled for a Q1 2014 release.