Ok, so Infamous: First Light has been out for some time. I’m also a pretty big fan of the InFamous series as a whole. Despite some repetitive missions and a slight lack of ambition, all of the InFamous titles have been good fun to play. In particular InFamous: Second Son, one of Sony’s flagship PS4 titles, was a joy to play but, like its predecessors, had similar shortcomings. However, all of these were easily overlooked by some great story telling, wonderful characterisation, stunning graphics but most importantly some of the most amazing and spectacular superpowers ever to be put in the hands of any gamer. So, with this love for InFamous, I had to question myself. Why has it taken me so long to play InFamous: Second Son’s standalone expansion, InFamous: First Light?
Quiet simply, I just never found the time and by playing more than my fair share of InFamous, I wasn’t in a particular rush to play the expansion.
Although I’m glad I did wait. How does the saying go ‘Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?’ If I had played InFamous First Light shortly after the main game itself, I may have become quickly bored or felt indifferent. However, with fresh eyes and a need to play something a little over the top, InFamous: First Light was just what the gaming doctor ordered.
First Light is a short prequel to InFamous: Second Son, but instead of delving further into the main game’s lead protagonist, Delsin Rowe, the developer (Sucker Punch) opt to explore one of the game’s chief supporting cast, Abigail Walker a.k.a ‘Fetch.’ In InFamous: Second Son, Delsin briefly discovers the tragic past of ‘Fetch’, who is a super powered speed freak with fancy ‘neon’ powers. InFamous: First Light reveals the true events of how Abigail Walker kicked drugs, how her brother was taken from her and how she became a prisoner of the totalitarian organisation known as the D.U.P.
Unfortunately, in comparison to Second Son, First Light’s storyline isn’t as complex or involving as the main game. In fact, it is a pretty straightforward tale of betrayal and revenge with some rather predictable twists. The actual game itself, much like Second Son, is relatively short if you focus solely on the main campaign. Second Son had a reasonably large map to venture across but sadly didn’t give the city of Seattle the vibrant life it needed to make this game feel like a next-gen title. With First Light, you only have half of the original city to wander around and therefore, once again, never truly get to experience Seattle. This was a trick the original Second Son missed. They had a gorgeous looking city that sadly heavily populated nor did gamers have much to do, other than follow the rather linear storyline. However, with a multitude of side quests and challenges, InFamous First Light’s campaign can hold you for a spell and is actually a rather barefaced but enjoyable romp.
From this initial assessment and focus on both Second Son and First Light’s shortcomings, you probably get the impression that I didn’t enjoy the game. Actually, the opposite is true. What is important to remember is that First Light is an expansion. Designed to help flesh out the original game and give fans a little extra, which First Light certainly does. Whilst characterisation was rudimentary on the whole, Fetch is an incredibly three-dimensional character. No more will she be regarded as the ‘bad girl with an attitude’ that Second Son touched upon. Gamers will get to see her darker side that lead up to the events of Second Son and, in turn, help the audience sympathise with her tragic past. All of this is done rather tastefully if not a little predictably. But I guess short expansions only allow for so much time.
First Light is largely about having fun and having an abundance of superpowers. It expands upon Fetch’s initial set of powers and gives gamers exactly what they want, and that is ‘god-like’ abilities. If Fetch wasn’t super-fast before, she is now. During the campaign Fetch emits a cloud of neon gas across the city and these pockets of gas are only visible to Fetch. Once she passes through these clouds they enable Fetch to run even faster. But that is not all that is in the feisty protagonist’s arsenal. We have bolts of neon, homing missiles, levitation, possession and, to top it off, the ability to create a singularity. Laying waste to bad guys has never been so much fun, or pretty for that matter, as the particle effects Fetch’s neon light show produce are visually stunning. If you want to see something just a little bit different in a game, purely from a visual perspective, then Sucker Punch’s First Light has it.
However, where the expansion truly excels is in the challenge mode. And no this simply isn’t just some tacked on battle arena, First Light cleverly integrates this part of the game into the main campaign with a series of challenges and unlocks to help level up your characters powers. It is also part of the back story.
Initially the battle arena’s revolve around simple challenges like ‘survival’ or ‘rescue the hostages.’ These simple challenges are part of the main campaign. Yet, gamers can, at any point, return to the arena for more intense challenges. Here you will fight enemies not even featured in the game to test your perseverance, as enemies appear to be procedurally generated, meaning that these challenges technically have no end. You will fight wave after wave of enemies using your powers and the environment. Any abilities you unlock in the campaign can be taken into the arena and vice versa. In the end it is the challenges themselves that make the game. They create an almost top score arcade mentality, which none of the previous InFamous titles have ever featured. Even though I was enjoying the campaign, I just couldn’t wait for another bout in the battle arena. I probably lost hours of my life fighting in there and the first thing I had to do was check my online friends top scores and set out beating them (curse you Ed, you still have one score better than mine).
All in all InFamous First Light expands your gameplay. It doesn’t revolutionise the franchise, nor does it particularly succeed at leaving a lasting impression in terms of story telling but what First Light does do is embrace its fun gameplay and crank it up to eleven. If you are looking for something serious, with incredibly immersive gameplay and in-depth characters then stick to InFamous Second Son or something even better like The Last of Us, but if you are looking for an enjoyable distraction that involves a balance between intense high-octane arcade action and a fun super powered campaign littered with collectibles then Infamous First Light will be right up your street. And with an £11.99 PSN price tag, who can argue with that?