InFamous: Second Son - the Digital Foundry verdict
Creating a new entry in an established franchise is always a difficult proposition - especially when dealing with a new console. Sucker Punch certainly does a good job of nailing the basics here but while Second Son's list of technical accomplishments may be a mile long, the game itself almost feels like it could be summed up in a single paragraph. The massive leap in visual fidelity winds up contrasting against the familiar game design, ultimately leading to a feeling of mild disappointment and a sense that the game only partly delivers on the next-gen dream. After all, when you have access to such a remarkably detailed world and a huge arsenal of superpowers, somehow the act of collecting a hundred shards or finding hidden cameras feels a bit underwhelming. Even the notion of integrating elements of this phenomenal technology more directly into the gameplay could have transformed the experience. In this respect we're reminded a little of Alan Wake - an Xbox 360 game that effectively weaponised light and shadow, opening up a wealth of of new gameplay potential, only to waste it on a simple point and shoot mechanic.
As a result, it's the visual impact of the technology behind Second Son that steals the show as opposed to its applications during gameplay. This allows the game to shine more brilliantly than it may have otherwise, but beyond that we're left with just the promise of better things to come. Open-world games have become increasingly popular over the course of the last decade, but it had become clear that many games were simply being limited by outdated hardware. Second Son deftly illustrates the benefits of moving to a new console platform by eliminating so many of the problems that have plagued the genre on older consoles. With such a solid foundation to build from, the potential for new inFamous sequel is mouthwatering.
While Second Son doesn't hit every mark, we can't ignore the fact that Sucker Punch was able to deliver such a polished, technically accomplished title so early in the life cycle of PlayStation 4. Even with its faults, it feels like the type of game one might expect only after a solid year or two as opposed to just a few months into the system's lifecycle. Such an effort certainly reserves a spot for Sucker Punch around the table of upper tier of internal studios and with the bar set so high so early, we can't wait to see what Sony's Worldwide Studios come up with next.