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inFamous: Second Son Review


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On 04/06/2014 at 12:07 PM by Jon Lewis

Power Fantasy
RECOMMENDATION:

For fans of the series and newcomers.

Entire consoles and companies have risen and fallen on the expectations of  exclusive, first party titles like Second Son. Often seen as the PS4’s first must buy game, there is a lot on the line with Sucker Punches first foray into the new console. While elements of the game may not live up to the grand expectations, once you make it past the hype still you get a sequel that not only stands on its own, but is also engaging, pretty, and a heck of a lot of fun.

Picking up about seven years after inFAMOUS 2, Second Son places you in the shoes of the rebellious Delsin Rowe. The post-inFAMOUS 2 world hasn’t been great for the world, as the daunting D.U.P. has set up stations all across the country with the sole purpose of capturing and containing all known Conduits, or “Bio-terrorists”.  Things get even more complicated when, after a scuffle with an escaped Conduit, Delsin finds out that he too has special powers.

Much of the narrative of the game has Delsin, with the aid of his cop brother Reggie, as they try to stop the D.U.P.’s reign in the city of Seattle, Washington. While simple, the narrative stumbles upon some interesting political and social undertones of oppression, and even segregation. Of course, these only serve the characters that are the spotlight of the experience.

Delsin and Reggie are the two main players here, and because of them the game has the personality it needs to kick start the franchise on this generation of consoles. Troy Baker and Travis Willingham do a good job bringing Delsin and Reggie to life and making you care about their relationship. The extra emotional tug was amplified due to the amazing face-capture, which makes each subtle look even more pronounced.

Supporting cast members are particularly likable as well, with other Conduits like Fetch providing many memorable moments. The main villain of the story, Augustine, does a good job of making you hate her, which is all you can ask for in a villain as far as I’m concerned.

One of the ways inFAMOUS likes to bend stories is by giving the player choice between good and evil. This device is one of the staples of the series, and is back in full force. After many games that have dealt out choices, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that the choices weren’t deeper than they were. In the end, each decision is strictly based on what kind of playthrough you are completing – good, or evil. Delsin’s abilities are also shaped by the choices you make, giving him either the ability to restrain his foes with ease, or to slaughter them outright. That said, there was absolutely no moment where I felt compelled to break my karmic streak of good.

In the context of the series, this makes sense since most players – including myself – dedicate separate playthroughs to each side of the spectrum. While the differences aren’t particularly drastic, there are many different missions and outcomes depending on which side you choose. Not to mention, Delsin as a character is very different, though based on the narrative, the good side seems like the most natural fit. Playing evil had many moments of ludo-narrative dissonance, where I felt like my actions weren’t appropriate for the things that Delsin were saying. He’d talk about how he needs to save his friend, only to go and slaughter dozens of people in the worst way possible. Making Delsin a bit more of a neutral character would have fixed this problem.

However, the meat and bones of inFAMOUS are the powers and the gameplay. Second Son has a fantastic way of making you feel powerful. Unlike Cole, Delsin has a few different abilities at his disposal, including Smoke and Neon. Each power has unique aspects to their move set that are appropriate in different situations. Neon is great for getting around with its super speed, while Smoke is good for taking out a multitude of enemies. My favorite power, which I won’t spoil, was so satisfying that I admittedly geeked out when I used it for the first time. Of the game's four powers, the third was easily the most satisfying.

That’s what kept me engaged – the satisfaction of using my powers to traverse the city with style and take down enemies with ease. However, the fun that comes with using the powers was hampered at times due to the repetitive mission structure. The side missions in particular are made up of a few different objectives, like spray painting the walls, taking out surveillance cameras and locating spies. While at first these missions are short and sweet, they get old fast. Eventually, I felt like I was going through the motions, with the variety in my power set being the only difference in the encounters. As the game went on, some of the missions did become more difficult – mainly due to the onslaught of enemies they would toss at me. The story missions felt like they had much more personality to them, especially the ones tied to other Conduits. It would have been nice to see some of that diversity pop up in the side missions themselves (excluding the interesting Paper Trail DLC).

Last but not least, this game is a marvel to look at. Though it’s probably just an early look at the potential of the PS4, I was very impressed by what was there. The whole city of Seattle felt vibrant and brimming with color. When it was cloudy or rainy, the mood of the city would change with it. Second Son is easily one of the best looking games out there. Other things like destructible environments and some really satisfying visual effects for the powers sweeten the deal.  It manages to be glitch free for the most part, while I did get pushed into a building that I wasn’t supposed to at one point. I also once saw a car just sitting there, vertical, for no apparent reason. Along with some extremely rare frame rate drops, I had no other issues with the game on a technical level.

In the end, I had a blast with inFAMOUS: Second Son. As I work my way through the Evil side of things, I am still having a blast playing with the different powers and getting around the city. It’s a shame that the mission structure doesn’t quite live up to the potential that it could. Either way, with the ending leaving possibilities wide open for the eventual sequel, I have high hopes for where they could possibly go. I feel like fans of the series will be satisfied with Second Son, and newcomers will have a great introduction to the series with this entry.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/12/2014 at 04:26 AM

this looks like a beautiful game that shows off the next gen style.  I would love to play it once I get a PS4.  Gonna buy a copy of it for my brother for his bday. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/15/2014 at 01:15 AM

I'm so happy to see this getting a positive review, as it was the PS4 title I was most excited for at E3. I never played the other installments, but a fun action game set in Seattle sounds like a great time to me. Can't wait to buy myself a PS4. 

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