Despite focussing entirely on Fetch as the playable character, Sucker Punch have failed to correct the most grievous error from inFamous Second Son: the characters. You see, in Second Son she was a one-note character, used as a vehicle for the personality-vacuum that was Delsin to get his rocks off, and make inappropriate comments toward. Here, she’s portrayed as a silly girl, for yet more people to hit on and use for their gain. Being the most powerful person (we’re talking super powers, here) you’d think that as Fetch grows, she becomes more feared – yet she only becomes the victim of scorn and more threats.
Throughout the entire game it’s hammered home how badly she needs the man in her life, because he keeps her centred. This, unfortunately, means that although she has a million times more character than Delsin, she doesn’t really feel like the star of her own game – which is a real shame, and no amount of cheeky quips can save that.
Revisiting inFamous Second Son’s redesigned Seattle, now tweaked for Fetch and her neon powers, feels great, though. A streamlined approach due to Fetch’s singular power-base means that overall it’s more fun to navigate, and the activities are simply better. The graffiti mini-game returns (as do random good guy activities), but it’s less laborious, and new side-quests like the races are just excellent entertainment. Where Delsin’s Seattle focuses more on absorbing the abilities of others, Fetch just has neon, so there are small pockets of neon gas dotted around that speed her up. These are everywhere, and are a necessity if you want to get the Lumens, which is how you upgrade your abilities. Run through a pocket of neon and you can jump higher to grab that out of reach Lumen.
In fact, the races invoke strong memories of Crackdown, as you chase a fleeing Lumen and must catch it before it escapes. It’s excellent, and helps the feeling that this Seattle really is Fetch’s playground. In fact, the focus on neon just makes everything better. The fact you are upgrading a single power means you generally get more out of it. It was the best power in Second Son, and First Light proves it.
Unfortunately, the story just isn’t on par with the rest of the game – again. Shifting between the events right before Second Son, and a period two years earlier (Fetch’s origin story, really) there are inconsistencies. It’s all a little obvious, and I couldn’t help feeling like I missed the Sucker Punch who genuinely shocked me in that first inFamous’ ending. The moral choice idea has been removed from First Light, which also lends to a stronger narrative.
The current day activity is merely a vehicle to teach you the game mechanics, and to introduce the new battle arena. This is a place where you can try your best in various challenges to attempt to top the leaderboards. In a nice touch, these are playable as Delsin if you own Second Son, and they’re a great idea, adding longevity to the four to five hours it’ll take you to complete the story, depending on which difficulty you play on.
Weirdly, in the present day section, you also learn a new skill which is unlocked to play in the past. As a narrative conceit, that just doesn’t work. It’s a tried and tested idea to lock powers away from you during the early game, but that first time it just seems odd.
The best part is that the missions feel varied due to the shorter running time. Of course it is combat-heavy, but even the melee action is far better. I’d strongly recommend you quickly upgrade your focus ability, as that means you can zoom in and slow the action down while you pick off the weak points. It all adds up to feeling somehow very satisfying. One minute you’ll be sniping bad guys to protect a target, the next you’re attacking vans to destroy their content. It’s not chalk and cheese, but it’s nice to not just be gunning folk down.
Unlike Second Son, First Light doesn’t ask you to take ownership of territories to reduce DUP presence. In fact, the first half only mentions the DUP, and is better for it. The rapid movement of DUP conduits means that the combat isn’t without frustration, but their late arrival means it’s only after the halfway mark that First Light falters slightly, because it’s otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
VERDICT: As with Second Son before it, First Light is stunning to look at, and has a wonderful soundtrack, which is hidden for true fanatics to search out and enjoy. The addition of challenges that reward trying different things is excellent, and the battle arena is a solid idea, executed well.
It feels odd to say it, but I actually prefer First Light to Second Son. The shorter run-time and more direct story could have reduced the feeling of freedom, but instead it benefits almost every area of the game. As a standalone product, its low price and superb gameplay means that it’s definitely recommended.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by publisher.