When inFAMOUS: Second Son was leading up to it’s release exclusively on Playstation 4 earlier this year, it was seen as one of the few bastions of hope for what is now known as the Current Generation of hardware. One of the few titles to be made specifically for “next generation” hardware in the first year of release, and a franchise that has been loved by Playstation fans for years. However, some saw it’s final product to be a bit of a let down. While it’s core gameplay remains as strong as ever, and the visuals are still as good as anything we’ve played on our shiny new consoles, the story left some people desiring more, and there simply wasn’t enough to do in Second Son’s vast recreation of Seattle. For me, the positives outweighed the negatives, as is reflected in my review, but with the newly released inFAMOUS: First Light stand-alone expansion, the shine is starting to wear thin.
In First Light, players take the role of Second Son’s anti-hero ancillary character Fetch, he streetwise and foul-mouthed conduit activist who provided Second Son’s Delsin Rowe with his most impressive power, Neon. In this prequel, we relive the events that led up to her imprisonment at the superhuman prison Curdun Cay, a section of the story which is told through flashbacks as Fetch retells her tragic tale to Director Augustine. The voice work continues to be excellent for these two characters, though not much is given for them to work with. First Light’s biggest flaw is in it’s storytelling, which is worrisome when you consider that this is the same concern most had with the original game from Sucker Punch Studios.
Much of the story comes down to what we have seen before in Second Son’s side quests. Fetch runs around a section of Seattle (only half of Second Son’s original map is available in this expansion) following waypoint after waypoint as she answers phone calls in between a shockingly small amount of cut scenes. They almost always amount to killing or knocking out a group of enemies in the area and learning some new plot point through phoned in exposition. It’s a sad turn, because this is exactly how Cole MacGrath, the hero of the original two inFAMOUS games was treated in his DLC missions in Second Son. While inFAMOUS has stellar gameplay, when you are only given a very limited set of mission types to play with, that gameplay goes nearly completely to waste.
Not much can be said about the story, other than the fact that it’s very difficult to get invested in a characters plight when you already know the outcome, which anyone who has played Second Son will be acutely aware of before ever starting First Light. The final Mission is the most unique, but drags on too long and overall feels like a chore in part.
What First Light does improve upon is transportation around Seattle, and the feeling of true power with Fetch’s fully realized Neon abilities. While Delsin could run up walls for shoot laser beams, Fetch is given neon clouds around the city that send her into a frenzied boost through the streets, speeding up her traversal of the city immensely, and a whole new array of attacks which differ from Delsin’s and add a nice fresh feeling to combat. The biggest improvement in the Neon powers comes from the automatic ability to warp through small obstacles on the sides of buildings that were a huge nuisance in Second Son, as they stopped Delsin dead in his tracks.
Additionally, the inclusion of Curdun Cay-based challenge arenas are what provides First Light with it’s truly addictive experience. Fetch (and even Delsin a few times) is thrown into simulation training grounds and asked to face endless waves of enemies in unique environments, either trying to survive as long as possible, or save as many randomly generated hostages before they are killed by the enemies. It’s a leaderboard-fueled horde mode, but it is easily the best addition to the original game, and makes me wish they could continue to release new scenarios.
inFAMOUS: First Light isn’t going to set the world on fire, and certainly has it’s issues, but fans of the mechanics in Second Son, or those who actually got invested in the Fetch character should easily find enough to justify the games lowered $15 price.