Infamous is probably one of my favorite Playstation-exclusive franchises and this newest addition comes to the Playstation 4. I was a huge fan of both Infamous and Infamous 2 so this game has been on my radar for awhile. With high expectations, can Second Son meet those expectations and make the PS4 worth buying?
The gist. It’s been 7 years since the events of Infamous 2 and now “conduits” are being rounded up and kept captive. The Department of Unified Protection has brought a conduit onboard that can control concrete and they’ve given that power to all of the DUP soldiers, to detain and imprison all other conduits. When a truck loaded with prisoners crashes in upstate Washington, bystander Delsin Rowe happens to run across one of these conduits and somehow absorbs his ability to control smoke and ash. Delsin is then thrust into a journey through the city of Seattle, absorbing new abilities along the way.
Infamous: Second Son is a third-person action game. A big component of the game is traversing the map and our hero Delsin gets a few unique ways to do it. As smoke, he can travel via ducts through buildings and float through solid objects. As he gains new powers, he can float, fly, and run across the city (in very cool ways). You can only have one power active at a time but you can change powers by absorbing things in the environment. For example, if you run out of smoke, you can absorb the neon from a nearby sign to switch to the neon power. I’ll only discuss smoke and neon, part of the fun is discovering the other powers through the game.
A traditional component of Infamous: Second Son is the morality system, where you are rewarded for doing good or bad things. Saving innocents rewards you with good karma, while murdering people gives you bad karma. As you hit certain markers, new moves are rewarded to you. The ending that you experience in the game is also based on your moral decisions up to that point.
For this review… I played through and beat the game going the “evil” route. I’ve begun a “good” playthrough and will update this review if anything changes from that experience.
So what works?
This was the first game I’ve played on PS4 and I wasn’t sure if it could live up to the hype. But as the game loaded and I first began walking around the forests of upstate Washington, I was blown away. Every puddle had a reflection, the sun created beautiful shadows on the ground, and Delsin’s facial animations were incredible. The world is gorgeous. Is it truly next-generation? I don’t know. It looks comparable to Skyrim on PS3 so a game like this could have likely been possible on past generation. Whether it’s next-gen or not, it looked fantastic though.
Let’s talk story first. Delsin is a cool hero/antihero. I’ve read complaints that he was flat and uninteresting but I thought he was engaging. He’s a bit of a punk sometimes but I thought he was relateable, mostly in his utter enjoyment of his abilities. He just smiles as he dishes out ultimate destruction. His story is interesting and the villain of our story was pretty engaging too. She is a conduit who controls concrete, named Brooke Augustine. Her voice acting and motion capture were perfect, leading to an incredible showdown in the game’s climax. I wish there were more substantial sidequests. As it stands, there’s the main quest and then small things like “Find the hidden camera.” As you meet other conduits, there was plenty of opportunities for side quests with these characters (and I think this is something that Infamous 2 did right, if I remember correctly).
Now, let’s get into gameplay. In a game like this, that comes first. How does it feel to be a superhero in the city of Seattle?
It feels absolutely incredible. The ability to shift between the different powers gives you a lot to think about, in terms of strategy, as each power functions very differently. Do you choose smoke and go for big explosions, or choose neon and go for ultimate accuracy? Traveling across the world is breathtaking and when you get into combat, it feels fantastic. The morality system rewards you with different upgrades, so playing through a second time would likely feel like a very different experience. I can’t think of anything else to say about it. You feel super.
Visually, the world is stunning and the combat is brilliant. Each power has a different color scheme and each one manages to look cooler than the rest. While the campaign might end, you’ll want to spend many more hours in Seattle with your abilities, just to fly across the skyline and diss out punishment or judgement.
The campaign is surprisingly short, maybe clocking in at 8-10 hours. I’d mostly base this on the lack of sidequests for me to get distracted by. And I guess it’s meant to be played twice… but it just felt a little short for me.
I also felt like the enemies were a little repetitive. Since you’re fighting concrete soldiers essentially the whole game, you learn their tricks and how to beat them pretty early on. There’s a lack of bosses in the game, so it feels very “rinse and repeat” as you take out DUP bases. I would have appreciated some diversity in the enemies.
And when it comes to the morality system, there were only I think 4-5 decisions to make. I’ve said this since the beginning, but I’d almost appreciate if you chose your path at the beginning and the story just went there. There’s no reason you’d ever switch up good/bad decisions because you only earn the bonuses from going all the way in one direction. At the start of the game, you could select the evil route and the cutscenes would just automatically make those decisions for you.
There were some technical issues occasionally. Mostly for me, it was either trying to wall-climb or the faulty camera. The camera is 3rd person and sometimes it wouldn’t let you aim because you were too close to a wall or bush or something. Awkward moments like this would get you killed and it was just technically frustrating.
The story is short and the enemies might be a tad repetitive, but Infamous: Second Son is still one of the best superhero videogames I’ve ever played. In terms of gameplay, it’s nailed it. With the array of powers you’ll acquire, the game can be played many different ways and traveling across the map and taking out DUP checkpoints is incredibly rewarding. The game is stunning, the voice acting top-notch, and the game, above all else, makes you feel like you’re really a superhero.