Sucker Punch Productions decided to set inFAMOUS: Second Son in Seattle to exploit the fact that the studio is based in the historical North American city, giving them a chance to use their first hand knowledge of its rich architecture and feel to create a better and more lively environment for the game.
Despite that, they decided to avoid just creating a dry reproduction of the city, but they used it as a canvas to draw their own interpretation of it, changing and warping it to look darker and moodier, turning Seattle in the perfect oppressive city that can serve as a playground for am irreverent superhuman like Delsin Rowe.
To see first hand how inFAMOUS: Second Son’s Seattle compares to the real one, we compared a few relevant screenshots showing relevant landmarks with their real life counterparts, or with the elements we think inspired them.
Instead of just using static pictures, we opted for Google Maps’ street view. It’ll take longer to load, so give it a bit of time, but it’ll allow you to see the buildings showcased from all sides and to explore a bit, maybe finding even more references that we didn’t spot.
After you’re done here, you can also check out the second part of this feature, showcasing plenty more shots.
Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is an independent museum based in the middle of the city, characterized by its peculiar monument by architect Minoru Yamasaki that you can see above. It remained almost unchanged in the game, even going as far as including the “Colossal Fossils” exhibition that was indeed held in the museum in 2007.
Sonic Boom Records, portrayed above in its real life and in-game version, is a historical Seattle-based shop selling indie label records and CDs. It’s located at 2209 NW Market St, Ballard, and while the street is definitely different from the real one, the shop retained its “2209″ street number. It’s one of the real world brands that made it into the game without being changed.
Another real world business that kept its name and logo in the game is Elephant Car Wash, a chain established back in 1951 that owns several locations in Seattle. The pedestal of the billboard portrayed in inFAMOUS: Second Son is actually unique, and identifies the downtown location at 616 Battery Street.
The Crocodile Club also retained its name and logo, but it has been turned into a much flashier building. In the real world it’s one of the most popular live music venues in the city, opened in 1991.
The Space Needle itself needs little explanation, as it’s probably the most popular landmarks in Seattle. It’s a 605 feet-tall tower completed in 1961 and designed by Edward E. Carlson and John Graham, Jr. It features a sky restaurant and an observation deck, and it’s the main tourist attraction of the city.
Also featured prominently in the game is the Seattle Center Monorail. In the real world it runs from the Space Needle and along the 5th avenue up to the Westlake Center Mall. It’s the first full scale monorail line built in the United States and it was completed for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.
Now we’re delving in some more obscure references, with elements that probably served as inspiration but were modified quite extensively by Sucker Punch. We checked basically all the Irish pubs in Seattle for the one that inspired the “Katie o’ Rife” portrayed in the game, and Mulledy’s in 21 Avenue West definitely matches the overall architecture and feel.
Latte Owl is inFAMOUS: Second Son‘s homage to Starbucks, and while there’s no shop in the real world (at least that we could find) that perfectly matches the one portrayed above, it definitely seems inspired by the chain’s oldest surviving location in 1912 Pike Place opened in 1976. Several elements of the architecture are very similar, and it only makes sense that Sucker Punch took inspiration from the most historically relevant Starbucks in the United States.
The Pioneer Square neighborhood is the old heart of the city, settled by Seattle’s founders in 1852 and including several historical buildings in the city’s characteristic red brick style. The “Pioneer” billboard above is probably a homage to the Pioneer Square Hotel, and the building looks very similar as well.
As an added bonus we included a couple of pieces of concept art released today. You can pan around in the google maps street view to check out just how similar the place looks to its real world counterpart.
Here’s one of the most interesting references: The entrance to the game’s “Port Alley” is a rather obvious reference to Seattle’s Post Alley, well known for its Gum Wall. If you check the sign above, it’s basically a perfect reproduction of the real life one, the Sucker Punch just replaced the “s” with a “r” and redesigned the entrance.
If you had any doubt left on the fact that “Port Alley” is indeed Post Alley, we can check out the screenshot that we unearthed a few days ago, and that reproduces the other end of the alley (you can see the same billboard far in the background). Some elements have been redesigned to look more run-down and gloomy, but it’s unmistakably the same place, with the entrance of the Market Theater in the foreground and the Gum Wall to its left.
To conclude, here’s one of the most peculiar elements: a Lincoln’s Towing Pink Toe Truck. Invented by Ed Lincoln and created by Ed Ellison, it became the emblem of Lincoln’s Towing Company and an icon of Seattle’s creativity. It was displayed on top of the company’s building until Mr. Lincoln sold it and retired. It’s currently displayed at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.
And we’re at the end of this lovely trip through the beauties and oddities of inFAMOUS: Second Son‘s Seattle, compared with its real world counterpart. One thing is for sure: taking inspiration from a real city didn’t choke the studio’s creativity.
Personally, I can’t wait to explore the virtual, superhuman-friendly (or maybe not very friendly) version of the city on March the 21st and to find even more references. I’m quite sure I’m not the only one.