I hate inFAMOUS: Second Son. Not in a bad way, but in the way that I can’t seem to get anything done (that includes job, house, family, etc.). I’m not talking about bugs or glitches either. The problem is that publisher Sony Computer Entertainment and developer Sucker Punch Productions have created such a realistic sandbox that I spend most of my time running, leaping, and flying that I forget what mission I was on or what I was doing to begin with, but I digress.
inFAMOUS: Second Son begins 7 years after the events of inFAMOUS 2 in New Marais after Cole MacGrath’s heroic sacrifice. The new protagonist is Delsin Rowe and he’s portrayed as an Akomish Native American. Now the tribe is actually fictional, but as a Native American I’m glad they’ve actually included someone with a heritage to base his personality and interactions off of. Delsin lives in Washington amongst his tribe and is also the resident trouble maker. Being a graffiti artist, Delsin has been in conflict with the local authorities on more than one occasion. Unfortunately for Delsin, the local constable is none other than his brother Reggie. I’m going to avoid story spoilers for the sake of those who haven’t been playing and just say after a confrontation Delsin learns he is what they call a conduit. All conduits have now been dubbed bio-terrorists by the Department of Unified Protection (DUP) and are being rounded up and stored away or tested on. After a few cut scenes and a short tutorial Delsin finds himself in Seattle on the hunt for those who have wronged his tribe.
Like inFAMOUS 2, there is a karmic scale that impacts what abilities and powers can be upgraded by the choices you make during the game. I focused on a “Good Boy” play through and maintained that, for the most part, through until the conclusion. Now karmic choices play out in certain levels, but even running through the street there are opportunities abound to be the daring do gooder or an all-around evil bastard. As an evil doer you can harass street musicians, break up activists who are against conduits, execute DUP soldiers, etc. As you come across other conduits you’re also given the opportunity to corrupt or redeem them to continue on whatever path you choose. As the good guy you can heal people caught in the cross fire, destroy drug stashes, and even take down DUP grunts with non-lethal means. Once you choose your focus, your powers will follow suit. Once I absorbed my neon powers and reached guardian level karma I was able to slow time and zoom in for accurate sniper shots. Target’s heads are highlighted red for an evil execution or blue on their feet and legs for an immobilization.
I think one of the more annoying problems with the original two inFAMOUS titles was the means of locomotion. Cole had some cool ways to get around, but it felt like it still took forever to get anywhere. This is why I hate the abilities in this new game (sarcasm). Delsin’s first two powers are a smoke ability and a neon charged ability, and both can get you around town in a matter of seconds. The smoke dash ability covers ground while leaving you unexposed to attacks until you form back together. This also plays into the myriad of vents now located on buildings that let you dash into the ducting only to materialize on the roof instead of manually scaling the side of 5 story building. The neon abilities answer to this a sprint that moves at light speed (think the Flash) and lets him run up the side of buildings to get to the top. So why do I hate this? Mainly because I’d start a level and begin making my way to the objective only to get sidetracked by the scenery, or a tall building I wanted to vault, DUP on the street, blast shards (yes, those are back), etc. The means of getting around Seattle vary and are a blast. I won’t spoil the last two abilities or how Delsin comes about acquiring them, but they also make for some fun ways to get around town. Not only that, but the ability to trade out your powers on the fly is fun too. Air dropping into a group of DUP from the rooftop, to disable them with smoke headshots, to then stealing some neon from a nearby sign to finish of the rest with a stasis grenade never gets old. You’re limited by your creativity… and your ability to finish an actual level without being distracted.
The devs at Sucker Punch deserve as much kudos as they can get because they’ve created a truly beautiful next gen console experience. I’ve heard people complaining that the characters are bland and uninteresting, but I disagree. I’d wager these are the people who played the game for 3 days straight without sleep or human interaction. Games like this are like a great meal and need to be savored. The cut scenes, facial expressions, and voice acting are all top notch and fit well within the story given to us. My only grievance (and it’s little) is the inclusion of a bad karmic side. Yes, I know it gives more options and a bit more depth, but it doesn’t flow with what we see of Delsin, those he cares about, or sense of community his tribe instills in him. The city of Seattle needs to be addressed as well because it seems like a living breathing organism. From the buildings, to the lighting, to the pedestrians on the streets Sucker Punch has crafted a very realistic city for us to play in. This is evident in the audio for the game as well. You can stop on the corner and just listen to everything that’s going around. The last big tip of the hat to Sucker Punch is the lighting, particles, and physics of the environments. Delsin’s smoke and neon abilities are absolutely gorgeous (so is one of his last ones) to behold, with lights dancing off the walls as you zip around, to the small particles of smoke and fire coming from Delsin as he teleports. Physics come into play even more since now you can actually destroy objects in the environments instead of trying to scale them all.
With all the next gen titles coming out I’d be remiss not to encourage any PS4 owner to check out inFAMOUS: Second Son and experience everything it has to offer. In addition, there was a day one patch that added about 4-5 hours of extra gameplay and an online hunt dubbed “Paper Trails” (we will be doing a follow up on this DLC). This combined with fantastic acting, animation, gameplay, and story will make sure inFAMOUS: Second Son doesn’t disappear into a puff of smoke.
(9.0 out of 10)