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inFamous: Second Son
inFamous: Second Son

PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Developer: Sucker Punch Official Site: http://us.playstation.com/ps...
Publisher: Sony Classification: TBC
Release Date:
21st March 2014
inFamous: Second Son Review
Review By @ 05:31pm 28/03/14
PS4
Confession time: I never really got into the Infamous series on PlayStation 3. When the original came out, it felt like a lesser version of the potential of the power palette on offer in Prototype (even though Prototype was, itself, a flawed affair). The electricity-only powers of Cole MacGrath didn’t really grab me, and it didn’t help that I kept hearing Christian Bale’s Bat-voice every time he spoke. I watched people play it, I had countless recommendations to give the series a second chance, but I never really got around to playing more than my initial few hours.

For fans of the series, Infamous: Second Son is a no-brainer purchase. For jaded folks like me, it’s a fantastic place to start. The events of the original games act as backstory that’s not requisite knowledge for entering the police state of Second Son. You jump into the trendy kicks of Delsin Rowe: a delinquent shitkicker who’s seemingly perpetually pissing off his cop brother Reggie.



When a Department of Unified Protection (DUP) vehicle crashes near the Rowe boys’ homestead, though, and a handful of “conduits” (that’s the Infamous name for people with superpowers) escape, Delsin discovers he’s got a bit more to offer than leet street-art skills. Like Rogue of X-Men fame, if Delsin touches a conduit, he’s able to absorb and retain their core power.

Initially, this comes in the form of Smoke, but soon expands to Neon and two additional core powers that I won’t ruin for you by saying what they are. Suffice it to say, Smoke and Neon were my go-to choices during my play-through, and then there’s the unfortunate reality that you only get the final power for the last boss fight. Completing the main story does open up the world for exploration, but if you’re the type of player who does side missions and clears areas while main-questing, this will register as a disappointment.

There is incentive to play through a second time, what with the whole good conduit/bad Bio-terrorist thing going on in terms of the morality system; but, regardless of whether you’re good or evil the first time over, you have to start again from scratch to get the full benefit of the other polar-opposite play style (which means no final power for use on a new play-through). I chose to take the righteous path, which is a surprise in and of itself, as my usual gaming preference is to choose to play bad whenever possible.



This is a credit to the game, as the way the decisions play out (particularly the first one) really made me want to do the right thing… except right towards the end after a specific event that made me want to be very, very bad. But, again, kudos to Sucker Punch. Where it falls short, though, is it rests on the antiquated notion of morality—black or white, that’s it—that shouldn’t be part of new-gen game design. There’s a poignant grey area in the divide between holy good and Hitler bad, and it’s a shame Sucker Punch literally colour-codes its moral decisions every step of the way.

It’s actually conceptually a bit tricker to play it good. Playing it bad means you can influence your overall karma rating by killing innocents and executing bad guys. Taking the higher road means you have to be careful with the kind of attacks you use in crowds (if you want to preserve your hero status), and you can’t just mash the square button to carve through enemies, either, as they tend to surrender or offer nonlethal incapacitation options when you’re kicking arse.

Even on normal difficulty, these combat scenarios prove to be quite tricky; particularly if, like me, you favour an aggressive play style. In many ways, the way the powers are structured encourages offensive tactics over defensive ones. While the final power does at least offer some defensive options, the three other powers afford the same sort of hit-and-run tactics with a few key exceptions.

Smoke is the all-rounder power, which offers a great balance between attacking, dodging and traversing the city. The Smoke melee attack is slower than Neon, though, while the latter power also has the added benefit of trippy effects, long-range sniping potential, fast city traversal (including wall-running, which is extremely reminiscent of the same ability in Prototype), and a light-sword weapon that’s dangerously close to having Lucasfilm on the line for copyright infringement. The third core power offers a stealth component, but I found its use minimal after being conditioned to play aggressively via Smoke and Neon.



Neon was the standout power for me, even after collecting the third core one that favoured flying over wall-running (even though it has its own form of vertical traversal), but the main disappointment was I never felt like I earned my abilities. Once you’ve collected one of the powers, the next immediate mission is to track down special boxes that house your abilities: every time. This makes them feel more gifted than anything and, coupled with the ultimate gifting of the final core power (and its subsequent abilities during a boss fight), it reeks of a missed opportunity for rewarding players that explore the sci-fi Seattle cityscape, or even forcing players to choose certain abilities over others.

As it stands, locating shards that let you upgrade/unlock abilities is a straightforward affair, and they seem to be accessible all over the map. In this respect—and in the way it blatantly points out where you have to go in certain missions even if it’s told you to find out for yourself—Second Son holds your hand quite a bit. There’s also the unfortunate addition of a whole lot of start-stop gameplay, particularly in the first hour.

If you’re sticking to the main quest, you’ll notice an abundance of cutscenes, which does tarnish the fun somewhat but, thankfully, allows you to marvel at how gorgeous the game is and how much Troy Baker (Delsin’s voice actor) continues to show that he has the vocal chops to carry a game and emotionally connect you with his characters. Delsin is no exception to the Baker trend, and he’s a much more likeable character than Cole MacGrath.

In fact, it’s his childlike wonder, cheeky smile and Spider-Man-esque wisecracks that go a long way to keeping the entertainment factor high. Couple this with the great balance between believable tension and camaraderie between Delsin and his brother, and the story side of Second Son is definitely one of the better parts of the game; especially when you take into account the comic-stylised flashback sequences that happen any time Delsin comes in contact with a new conduit.



Better still, the narrative has a fantastic driving force that makes you want to stick to the main quest; even if there’s never a clock ticking, it sure feels as though you’re racing against time to get to that final boss fight. Combat is likewise a tonne of fun, made all the more enjoyable by a fantastic soundtrack, but it’s a real shame you can’t switch between powers at the press of a button.

To switch powers, you have to drain energy from an applicable Smoke/Neon/et al source (which are readily available throughout the Seattle). This means you have to leave a fight to come back with a different power set, instead of taking advantage of, say, the speedy, long-range benefits of Neon before busting in and switching over to the all-round performance of Smoke in a seamless transition.

I’ve laboured the negatives in this review because the bulk of my time was spent engaged and entertained with Infamous: Second Son. It took me around 10 hours to knock over the main quest on a mostly undistracted play-through (with quite a few deaths), and I fully intend on sinking more hours into the beautifully rendered semi-futuristic world of Seattle. Despite the neat ending afforded by the epilogue, here’s to hoping Sucker Punch will give Delsin a sequel that addresses some of the detractors of Second Son and builds on the awesome foundation it’s laid down for the future of the series.
What we liked
  • Damn pretty: PS4 new-gen has landed
  • Delsin is a fantastic protagonist
  • Great soundtrack
  • Effective emotional beats in the story
  • Halfway decent touchpad integration
  • Entertaining brotherly camaraderie between the leads
What we didn't like
  • Start-stop gameplay
  • Get final power too late
  • Spray-painting mini-games are the worst
  • Don’t feel like you earn your powers
  • Holds your hand a bit
  • Black or white morality
More
We gave it:
8.1
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Khel
Posted 06:39pm 28/3/14
I don't hate the main character as much I expected to either, from what I'd seen of him in trailers. Even though, hes still a bit of a douche. I'm not very far in yet though, maybe he becomes less douchey.
nachosjustice
Posted 06:44pm 28/3/14
I'm with you, Khel. Totally thought he was a douche in the trailers, but he grew on me really fast in Second Son. He has some cheesy lines, but Baker nails them.
Eorl
Posted 06:50pm 28/3/14
Same, initially saw the character design and instantly thought he'd be a hipster douche, but by the end he definitely turned around. Loving the game, its so damn gorgeous and the powers are pretty awesome especially Neon for that fast running.

Only qualms are the side missions are repetitive, enemies are as well and the environment doesn't really gain any impact as you go along besides the second island's mass stone structures. I was hoping that the town would start to change dependant on your moral choice but it seems like its purely for narrative/power unlocks.
GamerGuy
Posted 02:40am 29/3/14
I didn't mind the sray painting haha.
koopz
Posted 02:59am 29/3/14
I miscalculated you Eorl...


I guess I was just wrong
pejamas
Posted 02:24pm 29/3/14
I just finished the game, the spray painting was a bit annoying only as I'm in a brace atm after shoulder surgery, that aside I loved the game and it's been a long time since I've played a game flat out till 5 am in the morning! The infamous pathway took me on a feels trip towards the end as well.
Zeafer79
Posted 10:36pm 10/4/14
I bought a PS3 late in it's cycle, specifically to play the PS exclusives I didn't get on my other consoles or PC. The Infamous trailer (way back at PS3 launch) almost tipped me down the PS path back then, but I couldn't get over the dual-shock stick positions. About 18 months ago, I finally picked one up, along with Infamous. Played it through both moral journeys and loved it. From a (near) launch title to a swan-song, Infamous II didn't disappoint (the opening 5 mins are still a graphical feast).

Due mainly to Infamous, I invested in a PS4 on day 1 - my first day 1 console. To be honest, BF4 has chewed plenty of hours, but the push-back of many release dates and the lack of a decent library has been PS4's biggest issue to date. After a seemingly endless wait ... Infamous Second Son did not disappoint. As a series fan, this was both familiar and impressively new. A visual feast with awesome new powers and an InFamous storyline/morality that makes it stand above the rest.

Here's hoping SP bring back the "user-generated" content... which they then add to extensively in-house (basically free DLC for InFamous 2). The online detective tie-in was pretty cool though... I liked hacking into a dead PI's files and the integration with in-game activity was some of the best I've seen.

9/10 for me. As much as I'd like another Infamous to be the PS4 swan-song... I'm hoping thats 5 or 6 in the series so we get more along the way.
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