InFAMOUS: Second Son Review
Is Second Son the second-coming of the InFamous franchise? Find out…
The New Mutants
Sucker Punch’s InFAMOUS franchise was a curious entry in Sony’s stable of excellent exclusives. On the one hand, it fills a niche that many developers stray away from: the unknown superhero origin. On the other, its execution – both in InFAMOUS and InFAMOUS 2 – could have used more polish thanks to some awkward controls and repetitive gameplay.
But this is a new generation and Sucker Punch is re-introducing players to a group of new mutants, starting with a brand new protagonist, a new city, and an entirely new arsenal of toys at their disposal.
InFamous: Second Son takes place about seven years after the events of the first InFamous, long after Cole’s story has concluded. The world is uneasy about the existence of Conduits – men and women who have the ability to manipulate various elements after absorbing their energy – and the government has taken measures to suppress them.
You take on the role of Delsin Rowe, a rebellious young man of the fictional Akomish tribe. After a brief introduction to his Sheriff brother Reggie, a catastrophic series of events involving a transport vehicle housing a group of Conduits forces Delsin to discover his latent ability – which allows him to absorb the powers of other conduits and use them for his own. The militaristic DUP (Department of Unified Protection) show up soon after to handle the conduit escape, and in short time, you’re on your way with Reggie to nearby Seattle to figure out how to stop the DUP and save your tribe.
The game is presented as a third-person open-world action-adventure game. If you’ve never played InFamous (or the similar Prototype), then think Crackdown with a mix of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Delsin is an expert climber, and he’s able to scale buildings to navigate the city when he’s not using his powers.
Unlike the previous InFamous games where your protagonist relied solely on one power (electricity), Delsin’s conduit ability continues to grow as the game goes on. You start off by manipulating smoke, which allows you to fire smoke/ember projectiles, float and dash forward, use vents to quickly move up buildings, and so forth. As you progress through the story, more powers are made available, and Delsin is able to switch between them by absorbing the corresponding element from his surroundings.
InFamous has always allowed players to mix it up from a distance and in hand-to-hand combat, and you get more of the same here. There was a bit of a melee focus in InFamous 2 by arming Cole with his amp weapon; however, the focus in Second Son tends towards more projectile-based battles. Scoring headshots to destroy enemies, or footshots to bind them is a bit more satisfying than blindly hacking and slashing, while also providing karma needed to continue on the path of good or evil.
Speaking of which, a major mechanic that makes its return is the good/evil affiliation. As you play, you decide whether to subdue or execute enemies, attack or help civilians, and make major decisions that are inherently good or evil. Eventually, you’ll find yourself favouring one or the other, which unlocks different skills related to your powers. I chose to fight for the side of good on my first playthrough, but I’ve heard from others that the evil route is actually the easier of the two if you’re looking to beat it on the hardest difficulty. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve gone the dark route, and whether you regret that decision.
While the game was a blast to play, I did find that the lack of variety in the missions a bit disappointing. Each mission pretty much boils down to: go to this place, fight bad guys… rinse and repeat. Side missions suffer the same issue. If that’s fine with you (and for many, that’s ok), you’ll absolutely love this game.
In an earlier article, I wrote that InFamous: Second Son is one of the games to watch this year, partly because of the amazing graphics – and I wasn’t wrong.
This alternate-reality version of Seattle is rendered beautifully, and you’ll get to see the city in various times of day and night to fully appreciate your surroundings – although a true day-night cycle really would have been awesome to see. As is the case with most large cities in open world games, the city is a bit too clean, but the sheen also helps highlight just how amazing the lighting and textures are. The city is especially bright and vibrant at night (I know that sounds weird), as the darkness helps the neon pop and provides the gamer with enough much eye candy to light up the night.
The sound is good – mind you, this isn’t Battlefield with it’s thumping, seat-moving bass, but it does the trick. The whoosh of the smoke, pew pews of the neon, and the ambiant noises are all decent but unspectacular.
Controls were also good. This is a tighter-feeling game, especially since Sucker Punch provided ways to scale buildings without having to climb everywhere by hand. They managed to find some interesting uses of the Dualshock4 controller too, most notably during mini graffiti sidequests strewn around each section of the map, which utilizes the controller’s motion sensors to approximate a can of spraypaint as you tag a wall.
One final note on presentation has to do with the main character himself. After Sony showed the first trailer during E3, fans of the series were abuzz because the main character “seems like a douche”. After beating the game, I wouldn’t go so far as that – in fact, he’s a likeable rogue, and way more interesting than Cole. It just goes to show that we’re all susceptible of judging books by covers.
The old guy in me says…
If you’re a PS4 owner, you owe it to yourself to get this game and justify your investment in next gen. However, the game is pretty easy on normal, and can be beaten in about 10-12 hours. That said, you probably shouldn’t get it at full price (especially in Canada where it’s a whopping $70 + tax), but at some point in your PS4’s lifetime, do yourself a favour by checking it out.
Growing up as a comic book fan, I couldn’t help but see the parallels between InFamous and Marvel’s X-Men series. The franchise has always been about the discovery of great power within, and the decision to use the power to help, or use it to corrupt. If viewed in that lens, then InFamous might be the best X-Men game yet.
InFamous: Second Son does two things right: It effectively reboots an average franchise, elevating it into something greater, and it heralds the next generation in a big way, showing the type of gaming we can all get excited about.
- Beautiful graphics
- Easy to play, great progression and pacing thanks to gradual introduction of powers
- Vibrant open world that doesn’t look like a ghost town
- Easy trophies (if that’s your thing)
- Free DLC missions via InFamous Paper Trail viral website
- Limited replayability (10-12 hr gameplay time)
- Gameplay is pretty simplistic, with limited variety of mission types and powers that, while different, have similar attacks
- Protagonist suffers from “doucheface”