Infamous: First Light
Standalone expansion packs are an interesting breed, offering a tantalising taste of large, popular franchises at a fraction of the cost as well as extra content for those who are already fans. The Infamous series of games is no stranger to the concept, having already seen success with Festival of Blood in 2011. The latest offering, Infamous: First Light for PS4, is tied together with the third main title in the series, Second Son, but how does it compare to this extremely successful title? Well, that’s a hard question to answer but I’ll do my best.
A quick summary of the Infamous universe is sort of necessary here. The games revolve around ordinary people suddenly developing the power to control certain elements or objects. They called themselves conduits, but were later branded bioterrorists by the government. The public feared their capabilities and eventually began to hunt them and imprison them, with some degree of success. Second Son featured Delsin Rowe as the main protagonist, with supporting characters Abigail Walker (AKA Fetch) and Eugene Sims.
In First Light, you play as Fetch and explore her backstory, including how she came to escape from the clutches of the DUP, the government agency in charge of imprisoning conduits. The story is framed by Fetch telling DUP Director Brook Augustine of events that occurred two years ago when she and her brother Brent were homeless on the streets of Seattle. These flashbacks make up the majority of the game, recycling a large portion of the map used in Second Son. Brent had intended to do one last job for a criminal organisation to make enough money for the siblings to go to Canada.
Fetch decides to use her powers to get the job done faster, breaking Brent’s rule to never use her powers to avoid attention. Brent is then kidnapped and Fetch decides to do everything she can to get him back. Unfortunately, nothing is ever so simple when it comes to organised crime and she gets caught up in a gang war, inflicting more and more pain on the city than she ever imagined possible. It’s hard to avoid saying too much about the storyline because if, like me, you’ve played Second Son, you already know a fairly major plot point. It was in the back of my mind the whole time. But let’s just stick to the gameplay and general aspects of the story.
The opportunity to play as Fetch was very appealing to me. After absorbing her power to control neon in Second Son, I rarely used Delsin’s smoke powers. When using neon powers, you can run infinitely – and not just through the street. You can run up the side of buildings. You can dash and use melee for a quick takedown. It’s rare that a game elicits such a feeling of exhilaration during play but there’s just no other way to describe it. First Light takes that to the next level by adding orbs around the city that appear when you start to run. Head through one of those to receive a speed boost that will make everything else in the world seem painfully slow.
Unlike the main Infamous games, there were no karma choices to make as Fetch. You simply do as you’re told because she is meant to go a bit mad when things all go to hell. You’re meant to hurt people. You’re meant to cause chaos. Fetch frequently loses her grip on reality thanks to trying to beat her drug addiction and that’s how she gains new abilities. While I seem to be one of the few who enjoys a karma system, wanton destruction is never unwelcome in a game. It’s nice to switch off for a few hours and do whatever the screen tells you without wondering whether it will mess up your karmic streak and Laura Bailey, the actress who does the motion capture and voice for Fetch, sells her rage induced violence so well that the cheesy lines are almost bearable.
There are upgrades available for her powers and these are purchased with lumens. These lumens are the focus of the side activities. They are scattered throughout the city, with some creative thinking required to get some of them. You can take on races where the piece is flying away and you use the neon orbs described earlier to catch up. You also receive them when completing power exercises in a specially built arena for Augustine when not in a flashback. Other side quests include shooting down police drones and tagging walls with neon graffiti. For a simple expansion pack, there’s plenty to do in addition to the story.
Of course, First Light is not without its drawbacks. The biggest by far is that it’s not particularly challenging. If you got to experience Fetch’s powers in Second Son, you won’t find it hard to get through the whole game without dying once. At first, I suspected that it was this way because I collected all the available lumens at the start and thus could get quite a few upgrades but the challenge never ramped up in any noticeable way.
There’s also no getting around the fact that Fetch sometimes does some dumb stuff. I mean, she’s young and slightly mentally unstable but she’s lived on the streets for a while by this point. She should be reasonably street smart. She really isn’t at times, which is kind of annoying. It was obvious when she was about to be trapped and yet she wanders into the situation with all the naïveté of a small child. She still expects that people will give her what she wants if she cooperates.
I’ve seen some complaints about the length of the story. It clocks in at about five hours if you want to get everything done in Seattle. Obviously, that’s nowhere near as long as Second Son but the thing to remember here is that it costs far less. It’s meant to be a dessert for fans and a first bite for potential ones. I was unhappy when I reached the end but that’s more of a comment on how much I enjoyed it, not about it being unreasonably short.
At the end of the day, First Light is very enjoyable, if a little simple. It might draw some new players in but honestly, if they weren’t convinced by the positive reviews for Second Son, it might not happen. For fans of Infamous, it’s a great way to spend an evening or two. It’s not ground breaking. It has made me take notice of all the neon signs in the real world, however, and that’s how I know when a game has drawn me in. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to daydream some more about being an amazing neon blur.
- Enjoyable free running
- Extra side activities to keep you busy
- No karmic balance means destroy whatever you want
- Fetch sometimes make strange choices for her character
- Not very challenging
- Some dialogue is poorly written