(Ne)at-o: An InFamous First Light Review

inFamous: Second Son was the inFamous game I was waiting for. It wasn’t because the previous Sucker Punch games were bad, far from it, I just didn’t care much for the title character Cole McGrath. The second game took the series in an exciting direction by introducing multiple super powered Conduits that held dominion over their own unique elemental powers, but it still wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. I equate the two games with the nervous, unsure footing of Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film. A great movie, but it felt lacking to me. inFamous Second Son, on the other hand, offered the same level of confidence and “wow, this is awesome!” feeling of Singer’s amazing sequel, X2: X-Men United. The game’s larger collection of interesting characters, cool visual-heavy powers, and an incredibly realized and semi-tragic villain came together much better than its predecessors.

One of the noteworthy characters in Second Son was Abigail “Fetch” Williams. A Conduit with control over neon, she made a stunning debut as her neon graffiti contrasted beautifully against the damp, earthy burroughs of Seattle. A troubled girl, Fetch reveals to Delsin that she and her brother were left to fend for themselves after their parents called on the D.U.P. to take Fetch away when she started exhibiting her unnatural abilities. Burdened by the death of her brother, Fetch wages a one woman campaign to destroy Seattle’s drug trade, leaving bright, vibrant trails of weaponized neon in her wake. Second Son‘s DLC First Light fleshes out Fetch’s back story as she and her brother Brent try to make ends meet in a society terrified by her unwanted abilities.

The add-on is a prequel and as such, offers a vision of Seattle unspoiled by D.U.P. intervention. The game opens with Fetch and her brother Brent about to leave the city only to be stopped by police. Fetch uses her powers to lure the cops away so that her brother can escape. Unfortunately, before they can be reunited, Brent’s boat is destroyed by the Akurans, a Russian gang specializing in the drug trade and human trafficking. With an abandoned phone serving as a tenuous suggestion that Brent could be alive, Fetch encounters Shane, her brother’s shady business partner, who offers to send feelers out to track him down in exchange for a few light errands. This part of Fetch’s life is actually a flashback. The “present” portion of the story occurs two years before Delsin’s arrival, incarcerated in a D.U.P. mega prison/training facility.

Antagonist Brooke Augustine asks Fetch to recount the events that shaped her life, forcing her to relive moments of emotional trauma to draw out her potential. She helps the young girl to hone her powers through a series of rigorous training exercises. Augustine’s intentions are readily apparent, given the plot of Second Son, and these moments offer the player a level of unrestricted carnage unavailable in the main game. As someone who really doesn’t care much for “challenge rooms,” the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma rooms were surprisingly addictive. These large, open arenas offer a collection of navigational and combat challenges that put Fetch’s growing list of skills to work.  The Beta and Gamma rooms offer variations of a Horde mode where the ultimate goal is to survive 50 waves of increasingly difficult enemies. The Alpha challenge room is mainly a hostage rescue game, where you’ll have to save targets from being murdered by enemies. If five hostages are killed, the challenge is over.

These challenge rooms are really fun breaks set in between the story of Fetch’s life in Seattle. After their escape plan goes sour, she is forced to ally with Brent’s sleazy partner Shane to find and rescue him. What begins as a accidental gang war between them and the Akurans spirals into an easily telegraphed double cross that turns Fetch into the reluctant strong arm of Shane’s consolidation of power. Here, First Light offers the familiar Second Son experience in its mission types and secondary distractions. The map is half the size of the main game but there are plenty of things to do, such as collecting free floating energy orbs that can be spent on upgrading Fetch’s powers. Hostage rescue, neon graffiti artwork, faces, and taking out police drones are simple tasks but an effective means to earning additional skill points. Furthermore, any accomplishments earned in challenge rooms are rewarded with upgrade points. One “problem” I ran into was my unintended addiction to collecting energy orbs. With the map fully open from the get go, there was nothing to stop me from grabbing every upgrade point I could scrounge. By the time I started the first playable mission, my character was thoroughly overpowered.

The missions themselves are not particularly noteworthy. The story is comprised with a number of strike and escort scenarios that are a breeze to play through if you maxed out Fetch’s abilities.  Compared to the non-stop action of the challenge rooms, the main feels bland and empty. There are no major decisions to shift her moral compass and influence a good or bad ending. The absence is notable, but the linearity of the story doesn’t give the mechanic much room. The story is decent, if a bit predictable and straightforward. As a bridge to the main game, First Light is trapped inside a pre-defined narrative direction. The game’s final moments are anti-climactic because all it does is give Fetch the chance she needs to reach her mark in order for Augustine to initiate the circumstances that allow her to go back to Seattle.

First Light might mishandle its story, but where the game exceeds above all criticism are its gorgeous visuals. Second Son was a striking game that apart from offering dazzling special effects, captured the essence of the drizzly Pacific Northwest. It also managed to maintain a high frame rate despite the sheer volume of particle effects. First Light accomplishes the same feat, though it gets bonus points because the look the neon power is so damn cool. Seeing her wild, purple streaks as she sprints across puddles of water is a glorious sight to behold.As with the main game, the add-on has a photo mode that allows players to capture and share their thrilling adventures.

First Light isn’t as thorough as Second Son and functions like a Cliff Notes version of the original game. That doesn’t prevent the add-on from being fun. I enjoyed gaining a deeper insight of Fetch and her motivations, though it would be nice if there was more to it. The add-on’s challenge rooms pick up the slack, which is nice because there’s no reason to keep playing the game after the story ends besides clearing out the side activities. First Light is a small but savory delight that has whet my appetite for more. Keep ’em coming, Sucker Punch.

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