inFAMOUS: Second Son is right around the corner, with less than two months to go before the release date on March 21st. The series is jumping a generation from PS3 to PS4, so it obviously looks quite a lot better than its predecessor inFAMOUS 2. But just how much better does it look? is inFAMOUS: Second Son the first real showcase of the generational leap between what’s now old generation and the new one?
The screenshots below, paired to showcase similar elements in both games, give more insight on the answer to that question (in Each pairing inFAMOUS 2 is above and Second Son is below).
First of all, let’s give a look to the new facial technology boasted by Sucker Punch Productions for inFamous: Second Son. Besides the fact that Cole was as expressive as a wooden log on painkillers on his own, it’s obvious that the improvement here is massive, not only in how “human” the expression looks, but also in the polygon count and the resolution of textures used to design the character.
This pair of panoramic shots let us spot quite a few differences. First of all the lighting engine in Second Son is much more advanced, making the environment feel a lot more “alive.” Secondly, there’s no comparison between the draw distance. in inFAMOUS: 2 it’s a lot shorter and the depth of field blur becomes very thick much nearer to hide the LOD on textures and polygons.
While the pair above may seem very different, it helps us gauge very effectively the texture resolution on architectural elements. In inFAMOUS 2 textures are very low in resolution, forcing the use of a rather rough normal map to add more detail. The new game showcases much higher resolution textures and normal maps, with a much more pleasant and realistic effect.
The same elements visible above are evident in this pair. Again, lighting is much sharper and more lively in Second Son. in addition to that there’s an extremely visible aliasing pretty much everywhere in inFamous 2, while in Second Son, the antialiasing feature does its duty very well to hide jaggies.
Here we can see more of the difference between the character design in the two games, but also the enormous discrepancy on how lighting affects characters. In Second Son light affects Delsin organically while keeping a dramatic effect. In inFAMOUS 2 the difference between lighted areas and shadows is much more evident and innatural, pointing to a much less advanced lighting engine.
The shots above give us a nice view on the difference between the particle engines of the two games. In Second Son even in a scene where the particles aren’t the main element, as they’re just a decoration for a flight move, there are many more displayed with additional smoke, resulting in a much richer and visually pleasant effect. The same can be said in the two pairings below.
In the two shots above we can also notice how much more expressive and natural Delsin looks while he fights, while Cole basically just used to open his mouth and frown.
The particle engine is also partly responsible of rendering explosions, and even here the difference is the same, and very visible. In inFAMOUS 2 explosions were already quite nice, but lacked in volume. In Second Son they’re much richer, thicker and more realistic.
Looking at the screenshots above it’s hard to say that the generational leap between the two games isn’t very visible. Less than three years have passed from the release of inFAMOUS 2, but Second Son definitely is on a completely different graphical level, and the difference between the 720p resolution on PS3 and 1080p on PS4 is just a tip of a very large iceberg.
Many say that the early titles of the new generation didn’t showcase the generational leap between PS3 and PS4 or Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and that’s at least partly a statement I can agree with. In that light inFamous: Secons Son is probably the first game that really makes us feel like we have landed fully into the 8th generation of console games, at long last.