All (First Light) in-game shots taken by me via Photo Mode!
inFAMOUS has been a franchise I've wanted to see do incredibly well. In that respect, it's been a little hard for me and the 5 year-old IP (and, to think, we've had a whopping 5 standalone releases in just that short time).
The first inFAMOUS was a world not quite ruined, not quite post-apocalyptic, but hanging by a thread with power struggles on several sides. Between the decrepit, grey, though detailed scenery, people near or completely dead on the sidewalks, the many TV broadcasts, and the rest of it's citizens either running rampant or desperate for food and protection, there was a lot going on attempting to pull you into the experience.
Genuinely immersive with an extensive campaign bringing solid as hell mission design, inFAMOUS was a brilliant and original comic hero adventure. Unfortunately, though, it was heavily-barred by it's technical issues. It's sometimes abysmal framerate stutters are not exactly easy to go back to.
inFAMOUS 2 fixed every possible issue from the original, while creating new ones. What were once the reasons I continued through inFAMOUS were now the reasons I found myself wanting to quit.
While the original inFAMOUS didn't have god-tier storytelling, it was a fun little romp with charming, if not purely inoffensive, character personalities and arcs. The second inFAMOUS, on the other hand, turned Cole from casual gruffman to snarky Norman Reedus. The latter may sound more interesting in theory, but I couldn't dig into this new take on an established character. This wasn't some alternate universe tale, it was official canon, making it very hard to take seriously.
At one point, I decided I no longer cared about doing any good because I now gave no shits about the story or protecting it's characters. Instead, I began crafting my own story. A story where Cole had been slowly becoming an arrogant, power-hungry fuckwit over the last couple years. Once Nix became a prevalent figure, she became my muse and we wrecked New Marais from here to there.
Sadly, that only carried me on just a bit further.
The mission design was also more lackluster, possibly due to the addition of the (granted, highly functional) mission editor giving the developers a bit too much slack. As far as the city, it was now more set dressing than a character in it's own right, with far less interesting contrasts in color and tone.
However, it played and ran considerably better. I will give it that.
Enter inFAMOUS: Second Son. A new inFAMOUS for a new generation, featuring a story with more awesome facial and motion capture than you could shake one of those silly ball suits at.
Rather than create new problems or greatly improve on it's foundation, it was a happy equalizer between the original and inFAMOUS 2. The entirely new and creative powers made you truly feel like a super human, the game's antagonist was a highlight with prowess only matched by the industry's best, the mission design was generally solid and even occasionally awe-inspiring, and while it's city wasn't too interesting, thanks to the PS4 it was incredibly detailed and looked very... VERY pretty. I'm also a sucker (punch!) for 90's grunge/rock, so it's ambient music tracks really hit me in the good spots.
In many ways, it was the best inFAMOUS yet. So, far be it from me to miss out on this particular DLC, which I have just finished a couple hours ago.
To finally start with the actual bloody review, Fetch is easily the most interesting of inFAMOUS' line of playable characters. Nevermind that we don't get nearly enough sister/brother relationships in video games (I seriously kept mistaking them for bf/gf... which is not to say the game is laden with incest), Fetch's story ends up being the most sympathetic and personal.
Beginning with Fetch being held captive by the DUP, recalling events leading up to
her capture, then quickly bursting into events leading up to right near the beginning of Second Son proper, it's a satisfying tale in structure and quality. Despite knowing the gist of what goes down beforehand, it vastly improves on what little characterization we got from Fetch in the vanilla campaign.
In fact, the most central aspect of First Light's story, Fetch's struggle to reunite with her brother Brent, is told excellently.
To Fetch, Brent is not only a brother that she dearly loves, he is what keeps her level-headed. Given the many burdens of her unfortunate past, Fetch may not be crazy-crazy, but she's definitely unhinged a few gears over time. Whenever she is stressed and without Brent, rather than relapse, she looses control and gains a new power, cleverly contextualizing what was just "sap enough juice" in the original Second Son.
If you choose to take part in side distractions, you may happen upon the graffiti tagging. Made shorter and more intuitive for those that somehow disliked what I thought was a really neat use of the Dualshock 4, most of the tags are tributes to Brent that effortlessly invoke a soft "Awwwww.". However, even early on, it's established that their relationship is very important and it is most certainly felt on the player.
That "breakout" feature I mentioned in the title? You might assume I'm talking about this DLC's addition of various Survival modes. While those are most welcome and good ways to get a lot of milage out of Second Son's fantastic core gameplay, that isn't even the best part of all this.
The story's climax made me, honest-to-goodness, tear the hell up.
To not give too much away, if you've played The Last Of Us, think back to that scene just before the intro credits roll and you have some sense of what this particular scene is like. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a convincing emotional breakdown within this medium. All things considered, it comes fast and surprisingly, and I can't help but continue to think about it.
With all that said, I'm sad to find that much of what I was looking forward to seeing with Fetch's prequel, being her and her brother's compromising addiction to street drugs, has been relegated to short comic strip scenes. I can't praise the sister/brother story we do have enough, but I have to wonder how much better it would've been to get a more fully fleshed out campaign which included those sections in-game and with motion/facial capture.
Regardless, in short, the story is easily this DLC's best quality.
What you get otherwise is, more or less, a primer and fresh coat of paint onto the original Second Son.
Fetch may only be able to use Neon, but it's been retrofitted to play a bit like a combination of Smoke and Neon. Close-quarters feels just as viable as long range, and her Neon skill tree can be dug into quite a bit once it opens up after the story is finished and you continue with free roam and/or Survival (something I'm always happy to see in open world titles).
Speaking of which, the main story missions may provide you with a few minor twists and surprises over it's approximate 3-4 hour length (my favorite mission being an attack on six drug shipments towards the end, which escalated very well), but much of the mission design is, sadly, even more akin to tired formulas than what was found in Second Son. Glorified Neon "turret" sequences, introductory side challenges, as well as the to-be-expected (though considerably scaled down) shoot/beat 'em up sequences.
It's a condensed Second Son experience, without much of the added flair. It's pretty good, but only truly worth seeing through again because of the excellent narrative. I already own what is essentially it but far better.
I also must call into question the "Lumen" side races. There are far too few, considering that each only last a mere 5-10 seconds. Some of them are even as dull as total straightaways with no payoff other than "Now I have another skill point to spend, I guess.". Honestly, I was more enthralled with the Where's Waldo-like security camera searches from the original Second Son (which have, actually, gotten a minor upgrade in First Light as "Police Drone" searches).
Only having half the open world to explore was understandable, but also disappointing nonetheless. Though, if it's any consolation, what you do get to explore is still big enough to where the Neon speed boost "clouds" come in handy.
You can also still get into DUP/gang fights, rescue civilians from random hold-ups, and collect "Lumens" (basically this game's rendition of the Crackdown orbs, always an addicting little feature).
And, of course, you can take part in the game's pretty darn great Survival modes as Fetch or (if you have a Second Son save file) as Delsin. Quickly jumping between characters in this mode really makes their different playstyles standout. Fetch is clearly faster, without any of the hassle of optimizing her output by constantly absorbing new powers. Delsin is slower and more complex (convoluted?), but his wide array of attacks and sheer power balances things out. I didn't think much of the differences between Fetch and Delsin until playing more Survival, and I now appreciate that Fetch isn't just Neon-only Delsin.
As I've said, if you're into that sort of thing as much as I am, there's no telling many hours you'll be getting out of Survival alone.
All in all, it may have it's issues, but First Light is one of the good ones. DLC has gotten a bad rep pretty much ever since Gen 7 began, but releases like First Light are competently-priced and will hold you over for a good amount of time if you're the kind of person into seeing what all an experience has to offer.
Now I can finally get back to playing (even more
) Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition.