• Release Date: August 26, 2014
• Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
• Developer: Sucker Punch
• Platforms: PS4
• Played On: PS4
I was underwhelmed by Infamous: Second Son to say the least (because Infamous 2 was just so much better). So when I heard Sucker Punch was releasing Infamous: First Light, the stand alone DLC, I was skeptical that it would be any good. Even if my skepticism was well deserved, First Light blew my expectations out of the water and is currently the best PS4 exclusive by far.
Chronologically, First Light takes place before Second Son. It makes sense numerically, unlike Second Son, which is actually the third game in the series (counting is hard for the video game industry). Anyway, this DLC follows the neon-superpowered Fetch as she tells her story to Augustine—the villain from Second Son. She and Brent, her brother, are one job away from living the good life in Canada until Brent gets kidnapped by the Akurans, the local Russian gang. In order to save Brent, Fetch asks for help from the Texan drug-dealer, Shane.
Even though the story’s setup is cliché, it’s quite enjoyable. Despite not being the most original idea, First Light makes up for it in its execution. Most characters are believable and have a bit more depth than other Infamous games. After cutting out the karma system like the inflamed appendix it was, the narrative is structured and attached better than Second Son. It was a breath of fresh air playing as a character that isn’t either an angel or the worldwide puppy stomping champion. Characters also feel more important and don’t always show up just to help conveniently move the plot along—it only happens once this time.
The only issue I have with the narrative is it suffers from being a prequel. If you played Second Son, which you don’t have to for this DLC, then you know what happens to Brent. Instead of the story progressing in—hopefully—unforeseen ways, the Infamous fan will connect the dots and learn how it happened. To be fair, First Light connects with Second Son really well. Fetch’s character arch does a phenomenal job at clarifying why she is who she is in Second Son (I’m trying my hardest not to spoil anything).
The combat in First Light is the same as every other Infamous game. Since Fetch is the protagonist, the neon power is the only tool players have to dispose of enemies. However, it’s a matter of quality over quantity. Delsin’s powers were nearly identical with a different coat of paint. The First Light neon power has been greatly improved. They’re actually small tweaks, but they enhance the gameplay quite drastically. Fetch’s projectiles can be upgraded to fire automatically early on in the game, and the enemies’ weak points are randomized, which keeps the combat fresh. She can move faster and has better horizontal movement to help keep the pace quick. A new haymaker actually makes melee combat a viable option too. Even the incredibly minor things like no longer getting caught under fire escapes while running up a building (something I hated with a passion in Second Son) refine the total experience.
The side missions in First Light are still as bland and uninspired as an incandescent light bulb (suck it Edison), but, thankfully, there aren’t that many. In actuality, completing each objective gives skill points to upgrade Fetch’s powers, so there’s an actual incentive to do them. Aside from those, you can get skill points by completing in-game challenges and exploring Seattle. This adds a sense of scarcity to the skill paths—not so much a tree because they don’t branch out—so the player needs to decide which play styles they prefer and invest in it accordingly. Once again, a small thing that drastically improves the overall pace and experience.
In addition to the new campaign, First Light introduces an arena mode. The large, open areas give a sense of liberation, while the ever increasing amount and variety of enemies keep the action hectic. The two modes are Rescue, that has you saving fabricated civilians, and Survival, which is the fun one. Maybe I’m just a simple man with simple tastes, but trying to save someone, while getting shot at more than the guy who collects golf balls at a driving range is frustratingly annoying. If you have Second Son save data, you’ll be able to do the arena challenges as Delsin, but after enough upgrades, Fetch puts him to shame.
Like Second Son, First Light is gorgeous. The particle effects still look astounding, but it helps that there’s more pink than a Princess Peach cosplay contest. It’s definitely a color that seems to be mostly ignored in current triple-A games. There are so many small details included in both character and level design to make it feel as lifelike as possible. Although, the only new setting is the Curdun Cay arenas, since the first portion of Seattle is where most of the narrative takes part. The street punk art style and undertone combined with the abundance of neon does clash a bit, but is definitely unique in its own right.
As far as sound goes, many sound effects are recycled from Second Son. The voice acting is still solid, but notably lacking with the absence of Troy Baker (Delsin) and Travis Willingham (Reggie). I realize nothing could have been done about this, but it’s still worth pointing out. Other than that, it’s basically the same.
The bottom line is if you liked Second Son, you’ll enjoy First Light and if you haven’t played an Infamous game, First Light is where you should start. Even if Fetch’s story isn’t the most original, Sucker Punch did a fantastic job at fine tuning everything else to enhance the overall experience beyond Second Son.