Infamous: Second Son | Review
The excitement of new consoles was quickly met with the realization that although we have new hardware, the software just wasn’t there. As it typically does at the beginning of a console cycle, the software didn’t stand out from the last gen. Infamous isn’t known as a system seller in itself, but Second Son can definitely change that and is more than worthy of your shiny new hardware.
Infamous: Second Son is, at its core, another Infamous game. It features various powers for you to obtain, a vast amount of collectibles and side missions that are pretty familiar from previous iterations and still has the typical Infamous karma system, for better or for worse. But, while past games had your character, at times, struggling to come to terms with their new affliction; Second Son takes a different route, one that has your character taking his circumstances as a badge of honor instead of a Scarlet A. Second Son is easily the most “fun” game out of the franchise, and Delsin perfectly personifies that cocky, live-and-let-live style.
The question as to why we have next-gen systems was definitively answered with Infamous: Second Son. The recreation of Seattle is beautiful. The day/night cycle, while not being a real-time cycle, provides for some beautiful scenery. But where next-gen truly peaks through is with Delsin’s powers. The particle effects emanating from Delsin’s hand after shooting a smoke bolt, or the destruction after unleashing a karmic streak and obliterating an entire area are jaw-dropping. Surprisingly, the Karmic streaks never get old but they do tend to become an easy crutch to rely on which makes the normal melee attacks seem tiresome.
At the outset of Second Son, Delsin quickly finds himself in a predicament where he has obtained his first power from a conduit. His exuberance with his newly found smoke powers is met by his brother’s (Reggie) dismay. Alas, the adventure begins. The setup of Second Son is pretty typical of the past iterations; there is an open-world separated by Districts that you must rid of the impending threat (in this case the Department of Unified Protection or DUP, by way of heroism or villiany. Along the way, there are collectibles in the form of shards which allow you to increase your powers, informant audio logs which flesh out the story and DUP security cameras that need to be destroyed. When entering a new area there is a DUP truck that must be destroyed which, in turn, reveals all the activities that need to be completed to unlock the District Showdown.
District Showdowns are specific missions in each district where they throw a gauntlet of enemies at you and, once defeated, the DUP in that area will be 0% resulting in a cleared area. Each cleared area allows the ability to fast travel to another cleared section, the only problem is there really isn’t much of a reason to fast travel in Second Son. By obtaining and upgrading your powers, getting around Seattle will be a breeze and it’s definitely much more fun to traverse the landscape than agonizingly finding your way to a fast travel point. That is perhaps the biggest down fall of Second Son. Once your various powers are fully upgraded, there’s little reason to actually traverse the landscape through climbing and typical platforming. Finding a smoke vent allows you to shoot to the top of a building and the other powers are even more useful in allowing you to bypass traversing entirely.
The Karma system is back in Second Son; and, unfortunately, it is as black and white as in previous games. During cut-scenes, the animations stop and present you with a red evil choice or a blue hero choice; and since the game caters to going completely evil or completely hero throughout, the first choice will set the tone for every action thereafter. Your Karma will also be impacted by killing protesters, stopping drug busts and the like, all clearly labeled with a blue or red icon. The karma system in and of itself is a bit bland and unimaginative, but the cut-scene differences between which side you choose are quite drastic. Yes, you will arrive at the same destination end-game, but the journey getting there will craft Cole into the city’s beloved hero or feared bio-terrorist. Infamous games haven’t been known for their killer storylines but Sucker Punch did a great job through their dialogue and cut-scenes in making meaningful characters in Second Son, even if the conclusion is easy to predict.
Throughout your journey you will have a number of powers that will help you take back Seattle. Two of the powers haven’t been talked about in the media and won’t be spoiled here, but it’s safe to say you’re in for a treat. You obtain powers in a similar fashion to the other Infamous games but it is far easier in this game than any other. The game, in general, is relatively easy in of itself. Delsin quickly becomes overpowered and going into different zones that are yet to be cleared are hardly the task they were in the first Infamous. The game quickly tells you this game is about having fun with your powers and thus doles the upgrades out extremely quickly. For better or worse, you will only die once or twice throughout the entire game.
Infamous: Second Son is a great showcase piece for the PS4. It’s not only a beautiful, well-optimized game; it’s also a game that is intriguing enough to demand a play through on the other karmic side. The game isn’t perfect, but it expands and enhances everything done in previous Infamous games.
Infamous: Second Son was developed by Sucker Punch and is currently out on PS4 at retail and on the SEN store.