As I was tearing down the streets, running over cars, or up the side of buildings with a purple-ish neon colored trailing me wherever I went, I came to the conclusion that Infamous: Second Son is legitimate fun. While there were some things I felt Sucker Punch could’ve done better, what’s presented here is as close to gaming nirvana as I’ve gotten to since I bought my PS4.
Second Son takes place seven years into the future from its last two titles. It’s led by a hipster, skinny jean wearing punk by the name of Delsin Rowe. Delsin, as we’ll come to find out, is a conduit (or in this game, a “bioterrorist”) who can “borrow” powers from other conduits he comes into contact with. He’s going to need them too, as he’s tasked with taking on the leader of the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.), Brooke Augustine, who has made it a habit of taking all conduits prisoner and locking them away so they can’t use their powers. The story pits the two on colliding paths from the outset, once a D.U.P. transport crashes nearby Delsin’s native tribe and he earns the ability to use smoke. Augustine tortures the people of Delsin’s tribe in order to get him to talk and once it’s over, Delsin sets his sights on Seattle to take Augustine’s powers to heal his tribe.
The cast of characters range from Delsin, to Augustine, and his brother Reggie, who is the “Zeke” to Delsin’s “Cole” this time around. There are three other characters that are paramount to the story at hand, but for the sake of spoilers, I’ll keep those names in the cut. The new characters all come with pretty believable explanations for how they got their powers and the player ends up learning the background of these after what essentially boils down to a boss battle beforehand. The story may not be anything mind-blowing in terms of the plot, but I did find it well acted during the cutscenes and the ending (at least for the evil playthrough) to be at least a bit of an unexpected plot twist. Thankfully, the main feature of all Infamous games is focused on the powers and it is here, where Second Son is clearly superior to its predecessors.
Differing from past iterations, Second Son equips Delsin with four different power types. Smoke and Neon powers are the first two you receive, while later you get two more powers to round out your arsenal. During the early portions of the game, I wasn’t all that enthralled, as I was very partial to the lightning powers in Cole’s possession. After beefing up all of the powers involved however, they are mostly on par with the lightning, though I still sort of wished lightning would’ve been available. One huge improvement in Second Son is Delsin’s ability to traverse Seattle. In previous Infamous titles, parkour was the preferred method of scaling buildings and Cole was eventually allowed to his lightning enabled powers to leap from the roof of buildings with relative ease. In Second Son, Delsin has four powers at his disposal, each coming with their own method of transportation. Delsin’s ability to travel around Seattle is miles better than Cole’s ability and even though Second Son allows the option to fast travel, the powers make it so that traveling via the world is a far better and more fun option.
Speaking of Seattle, it’s absolutely GORGEOUS. Seattle is clearly made to be a playground for Delsin while showing off the power of the PS4 and it does a more than adequate job of doing just that. While the city itself is beautifully crafted, the detail in Delsin’s character as well as the particle effects should also be appreciated. There’s a good number of destructible environments located in the area, which make for great spectacles once powers get souped up and the ability to make everything come crashing down is as simple as the press of a button. In previous Infamous games you had to manually aim before you let the powers fly. On Second Son, the reticle is always up, leaving you free to fire off powers no matter which way you’re running. I didn’t notice any slowdown during my playtime, the animations were fluid, and just running Delsin around while blowing shit up is pure, unadulterated joy.
With that said, there are a few drawbacks that are noticeable, even if they won’t get in the way of the fun. For starters, the story is your run of the mill revenge story. Granted, there are a couple of twists and turns, but there isn’t anything here you haven’t seen or wouldn’t be able to guess by paying attention to the story. Secondly, Infamous has a camera problem. I don’t mean the camera used to see the players, that works fine. I mean by way of a gameplay device. In order to clear the area of of D.U.P. control, there is a list of stuff you need to accomplish. In every zone, you have to shoot out a number of security cameras to knock down the percentage and in another instance, you have to find a private camera in a particular area by jumping from the hidden feed and the real world. Ever since Goldeneye 64, developers have had a weird sort of obsession with shooting out cameras. It’d be considerably less annoying if there weren’t so many cameras, but each area is littered with them and it made for a really annoying gameplay experience to have to shoot them down.
There’s also been noise made about the binary choices making a return. While many games have made it popular to have a gray area, Infamous sticks to its black and white method. I didn’t have a problem with it, but since the powers are tied to the how good or bad you play as, some might have a problem being locked into one particular action in a story where some subtlety wouldn’t have hurt. Lastly, while there’s plenty to do, some of the side missions don’t really work for me. The spray painting missions, where having to manipulate the controller physically to spray paint is a bit much. There’s alot of uses for the touchpad that feel tacked on and not really all that natural. Lastly, I would have preferred that the powers would’ve been mapped out to the controller. Instead, Delsin’s ability to use powers is based on his surroundings. If you want Delsin to use the neon power, you better hope there’s a place neon is located, otherwise you’re going to have to wait to use it. It’s not a dealbreaker, but I thought it could have been done better.
In conclusion, Infamous: Second Son is one of the best games currently playable on the PS4. The game is beautiful, the powers are awesome, and Delsin is a pretty good protagonist. While there are a few drawbacks I felt could’ve been ironed out, I’m only judging the game on what’s here and what’s here is totally worth the money. Sucker Punch promises to support the game with future DLC and has already released new content for the game that takes place during the game AND offline in a rather unique way. If you’re looking for something to play on the PS4 in one of Sony’s leanest years by way of 1st party titles, you’d be a fool not to pick this one up.