REVIEW: inFAMOUS: First Light (PS4)

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“inFAMOUS: First Light” shines the spotlight on a supporting character from this year’s PlayStation 4 showstopper “Infamous: Second Son.” Focusing on the backstory of neon-powered anti-hero Abigail “Fetch” Walker, “First Light” offers a pared-down version of “Second Son” at a pared-down price.

“First Light” is a prequel to the events of “Second Son,” so it functions as a great jump-on point for gamers new to the franchise. In fact, this may be the preferred way in, as “First Light” does cover much of the same gameplay ground. As Fetch, you take on the role of a reluctant super-hero, a runaway who hides her powers and relies on her brother for protection. When the brother is kidnapped, Fetch loses her anchor and must battle her inner demons to maintain control.

Just as in “Second Son,” you spend a lot of time unlocking new super powers and running wild over a nicely detailed video game version of Seattle. This time out, Seattle is smaller, but it remains packed with drug dealers and criminals. In the world of “inFAMOUS,” people with powers are chased and incarcerated by federal agents, and “First Light” contains plenty of hints of the “super-heroes versus the government” storyline that dominates “Second Son.” For the most part, however, Fetch spends her time embroiled in a battle against a sleazy drug dealer who wants to use her power to cement his control over the city.

The neon powers were among the most visually impressive abilities used in “Second Son,” and that continues in “First Light.” Fetch glows with pink and purple light as she summons energy blasts, and she coalesces out of a living neon gas when she uses her fast-running ability. A built-in image capture mode lets you pause the game to arrange beautiful screenshots that you can then share online with friends.

While Fetch’s story is only a few hours of gameplay, “First Light” includes plenty of side content and collectibles to add value. Some of these are head-scratchers. Why does Fetch need to collect “lumens” from around the map when she clearly has the ability to absorb power from Seattle’s everyday neon signs? The game’s bucket list of challenges are more interesting: accomplish tasks from an extensive list of specific challenges (“Defeat 10 drive-by shootings”) to receive points that can be used to unlock upgraded powers.

The real bonus feature is the arena mode, where you compete against virtual enemies inside a sort of X-Men Danger Room. The point here is survival against waves of baddies, with an eye towards stringing together a high score. There are several types of arenas to tackle, and while it is a shame that all three pretty much look and play the same, they’re an arcade-style time sink that offers a nice complement to freestyling around Seattle.

At $14.99, “inFAMOUS: First Light” is a easy recommendation for PlayStation 4 owners who have yet to look into the full-priced “inFAMOUS: Second Son.” “Light’s” story is less bright for those who have played “Second Son,” but the fast-paced arena mode makes it worth a play.

This review is based on product supplied by the publisher. Image courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America.

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