inFAMOUS Second Son Reviews

AuthorReview
TheCronxBFG
130,793 (99,450)
TheCronxBFG
TT Score for this game: 1,552
Posted on 11 June 14 at 09:08, Edited on 15 September 15 at 18:19
This review has 8 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
I generally, as a rule, don’t jump into a series right in the middle of its story. Whether it’s video games, movies, tv shows or books, I like to start from the beginning. However, when you get your hands on a next-generation console (bought for me by my epic wife) and a copy of the first exclusive AAA-title for it, you kind of have to make an exception. So I’m going to start off this review with the caveat that I have not played an inFAMOUS game in the series up until now, so I am going into the experience with fresh eyes. There may be a minor spoiler to the series as a whole in this review so if, like me, you’re new to the series you may want to skip the introductory paragraph.

inFAMOUS: Second Son (or Second Son as I shall refer to it from now on, because stylising it as inFAMOUS: Second Son each time is effort) is the third game in the series, and it picks up seven years after from where inFamous 2 left off after the death of Cole McGrath the original conduit – a subspecies of humans that possess superhuman powers afforded to them by the “conduit gene”, which gives them abilities that may not appear until later in life, ranging from manipulating various forms of energies, up to superhuman strength, regenerating capabilities, and flight. Not entirely dissimilar to the “X-Gene” in a well-known Marvel series.

Picking up the proverbial conduit torch is Delsin Rowe, a delinquent graffiti artist of Native American descent and part of the Akomish reservation, who handily is also able to free-run and free-climb, which comes in useful when you’re trying to scale cliffs and buildings. After the events of inFamous 2, America is pretty much free of conduits after they were rounded up and imprisoned by the Department of Unified Protection – usually referred to as the DUP or ‘Doop’ (not to be confused with the dance band from the Netherlands, who had a 1994 one-hit wonder by the same name) – a government-approved force of conduits front by a militant director in the shape of Brooke Augustine, a powerful conduit with the ability to create and manipulate concrete. Through a series of unfortuante events, Delsin goes head-to-head with Augustine after discovering he too is a conduit. The story isn’t anything particularly original, it’s a superhuman against a militant organisation set in a city under martial law, and the organisation must be overthrown in order to save the day. While I would like to say that the story is a clever depiction of the current political landscape, it’s really actually not anything we haven’t seen before. But it works, the story fits, the characters are portrayed well, and the voice acting is excellent. Plus, when you’re a badass superhuman that can fly and make things explode, you don’t really need an award-winning story.

Delsin will likely be a divisive character between the fans of the series, he can come off as bratty, immature and brash-tempered. But these same qualities can also make him appear impulsive, charming and witty. The character of Delsin is balanced nicely by the constant presence, mostly via mobile phone, of his brother, Reggie, the sheriff of the Acomish tribe, who in stark contrast to his rebellious brother is a stickler for law and order, but in possessession of a dry sense of humour underneath his straight-laced exterior.

Set in the near-future of 2016, Second Son is set primarily in Seattle, which is divided into twelve DUP-controlled areas. Despite being a next-gen world, the city itself is fairly compact in comparison to most open-world, sandbox games released recently, and small in comparison to GTA V’s vast playing field. Some may feel disappointed by the size of the city, but this isn’t necessarily a handicap to the game though, because as you unlock more and more powers, you’ll be flying and jumping from one side of the city to the other in no time at all, which makes Delsin feel all the most super-human.

At the start of the game, the entire is city is controlled by the DUP, but power can be wrested away from the DUP by destroyed their command centres and then whittling away their overall control by finishing various side activities – including taking out agents, destroying cameras and mobile drones (which carry shards that allow Delsin to upgrade his powers, more on that later), and spraying graffiti around the city – which makes nifty use of the new PS4 controller by allowing you to tilt the controller up on it’s side like an aerosol paint can and spray over the stencil presented to you on screen. Also, depending on wether you take a good or evil path, there are also drug dealers that you cake out for good karma, or more innocent targets such as buskers and sign twirlers for you to take out for evil karma (more on the karma system later). The compactness of the city makes completing these side tasks and collectibles to feel like less of a chore than other sandbox titles of note – case in point, Assassin’s Creed III which felt bloated and cumbersome under the weight of its various activities – as destroying the command centre in each city sector will show up the location of every activity and collectible in that area, which takes the drudgery out of trying to locate drones but still leaving enough legwork for you so that the effort isn’t totally removed, since there’ll be a plethora of DUP officers in various shapes and sizes that you’ll need to combat. Most of them a bog-standard grunts with assault rifles that you’ll be able to take out with relative ease if you’re faced with just one or two of them, but if there are several attacking you at once, things become even trickier. Throw into some of the more super-powered DUP officers into the mix with sniper rifles, teleportation and super strength concrete powers then the fights can get pretty tough that may cause you to make a hasty retreat in order to regenerate before coming back to finish them off and picking off your targets in a more strategic fashion.

Naturally, to be able to complete all of these tasks and defeat the DUP, you’re going to need powers, and lots of them. Upon gaining his abilities, Delsin starts off with a single smoke-based power. To unlock more powers, you have to go around and destroy core relays – which you are usually prompted to do as part of the storyline – and then go on to upgrade these powers by collecting blast shards, which can mostly be obtained by destroying the DUP Mobile Command Centres, flying drones that can be found all over the city, or by destroying the conduit scanners at DUP checkpoints. There are a large variety of powers ranging from combat abilities that will allow you to target specific body parts to incapacitate your enemies, up to being able to fly/warp/shift faster and for longer periods of time. The balance struck between the powers is excellent and none of them felt superfluous, which can sometimes be an issue in this type of game, but each power tends to come in useful depending on the type of enemy you’re fighting, and after getting accustomed to your powers you’ll find yourself making full use of your arsenal and the control of Delsin is good enough that you shouldn’t have any difficulty in making use of your powers. My only gripe is that Delsin’s free-climbing abilites can be a bit hit and miss sometimes when you’re used to games with better free-climbing abilities, such as Assassin’s Creed, although this is a minor complaint because once you have your powers, the amount of time you’ll spend climbing as opposed to jumping, flying and teleporting will be relatively small.

A key point of the inFamous series has been the moral choices that you have to make. I’m all for choices in video games. I think every game should give gamers a choice to make in order to shape the story and make it their own. The key thing that differentiates video games from movies is the interaction, and it’s only right that games should give you the chance to shape the story as you see fit. The best examples of this so far are still the Mass Effect series and Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. Second Son does this as well by giving you chance to do this by giving you key points where you need to make a choice, as well as the usual sandbox style of play where you can either go around and help people, or cause as much devastation as possible. Performing these acts will fill up a meter of either good or bad karma and will allow you unlock powers that are exclusive to either Good or Evil karma, as well as perform a devastating area of effect attack once your meter is full that will take out everything in a certain radius, both enemies and civilians alike, depending on your morality. Unfortunately, Second Son suffers from the rather short-sighted formula that most games of this ilk fall into where the choices are completely black and white. It’s either a good choice or an evil choice. You’re either verging on saintly behaviour, or acting like a complete and utter douchebag. Having completed the game twice down both the Good and Evil path, I found it rather disappointing that the actual story pans out pretty much the same between major scenes and there are points where you’re brutally killing people, and yet Reggie is still cracking jokes with you like nothing has happened. It seems a bit inconsistent to me, and if we’re just going to be restricted to one choice or the other, then I would like to see these choices reflect that game more as a whole, rather than just particular segments of the game. Having said all of that, the game is enjoyable enough for you to want to go back and play both paths and it’s not so overly long that it feels like a chore to go back and do everything again.

Of course, with this being the first game of the series to appear on the PS4, we have to look at the technical aspects of the game. So, how does it look? Simply put, it looks stunning. The first thing that struck me was the faces of the characters and how detailed and lifelike they were. The expressions and animations that they’re capable seem so much more varied that what we’re used to, and they achieve it without getting into the ‘uncanny valley’ realm of things where they look real-but-not-quite-real. LA Noire had extremely detailed facial expressions – but sometimes it was a bit too eerily real – whereas Second Son manages it in such a way that it all looks very natural and fluid. The city itself is stunning too, and the draw distances are amazing and you can stand on the highest points of the city and see way, way into the distance and , looking back, I can’t think of any instances of pop-up scenery either. And despite the city’s compactness, it does feel open and alive. The other thing that stood out was the level of detail and textures in the city as well, such as when you’re graffitiing walls and the wet paint has a very natural sheen that shows up the textures of whatever you’re painting on, which is only accentuated by the fantastic lighting that the PS4 is capable of.

When it comes down to it though, despite how great the game looks, I was carrying the feeling throughout the entire time I was playing the game that this is only a next-gen game purely in terms of how it looks. Gameplay-wise, it still plays like a game that you could play on the PS3. Despite having not played any of the series prior to this, I get the feeling that the experience won’t be a massive step up from inFamous 2 in terms of gameplay. But I don’t want to criticise the game too harshly for that. It’s only natural that the first games released on this new generation of consoles will still be using the mechanics that have built up over the years on the last generation of consoles. Only with time and experience with the hardware will the developers be able to produce games that truly harness the power the new consoles. Until that happens, we should be happy to be getting games that still play wonderfully, but also look stunning. And inFAMOUS: Second Son fulfills that nicely. If you’re looking for the definitive next-generation experience straight away, then you’re going to be disappointed. But if you’re a lover of open-world, sandbox games, and superhero games then Second Son is going to give you a lot of enjoyment, which is the main reason why we play games. In fact, what strikes me most about Second Son, is that with its powers, mechanics and solidly built city, Sucker Punch are producing one of the finest sandbox superhero titles that isn’t affiliated with either Marvel or DC, and to say that is to give them a massive amount of credit and I look forward to seeing what they’ll be able to accomplish with some more time and experience with the PS4's hardware.

Positives

+ Stunning looking
+ Well-built city
+ Plenty of fun side-activities
+ Large array of satisfying powers
+ Vastly enjoyable gameplay
+ Good cast of characters
+ A fun, engaging story…

Negatives

- … that isn’t going to win any awards
- City feels a bit compact
- Morality system is pretty standard
- Doesn’t take full advantage of the new hardware

Verdict: A very enjoyable, if not groundbreaking, start to next-gen life for the inFAMOUS series.
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BurnedChipmunk
75,442 (54,630)
BurnedChipmunk
Posted on 13 December 18 at 08:54, Edited on 13 December 18 at 08:56
This review has 1 positive vote and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
I jumped into this game somewhat fresh to the franchise having only casually played the first, aware that it was a soft reboot and that familiarity with the previous titles was unnecessary. Gone is the fictional world of the first games, and now we're in an alternate real world setting, specifically the city of Seattle which I actually quite liked as a backdrop.

Presentation
The city was well realised, the graphics seemed well rendered, and while the game only runs at 30fps, it seemed smooth enough that I didn't notice significant issues. Particle effects added well to the games aesthetic, and the sound reinforces the atmosphere well enough. Audio cues are effective and I always felt like I knew where I was going. The city isn't as big as other open worlds but that works out to the games advantage, you quickly learn the layout and start to identify landmarks; and whisking across the map becomes a breeze later on though a mix of the tight map, and well realised graphics.

Gameplay
Gameplay wise what can I say that isn't already known. It's an open world sandbox with RPG elements. You go from place to place, collecting collectables, doing missions, taking out enemy bases, and clearing sections of the map. It's a pretty standard formulae but it's done well here. Traversal is extremely fun, something I refer to as kinesthetics (which is the quality/beauty of the flow of movement and ease of control, in the same way that aesthetics is the quality/beauty of the visual style and graphics). You feel very much like a superhero when playing this and that's no bad thing. Missions don't get too repetitive, and the changing up of powers make it varied in gameplay.

Narrative
The story line is predictable but serviceable. It's very reminiscent of super-hero comics, particularly the X-Men with a little of the "great power, great responsibility" motif of Spider-Man. That said the characters are well realised and it has moments of emotional depth I wasn't expecting. Characters are well voice acted, with Delsin coming across as a sarcastic but charming rebel kid, who manages to be stereotypical without being annoying. He's well placed to become the Spider-Man style good guy, or become a twisted villain; which plays in well to the games morality system. Ultimately the story won't buck expectations too much, but it was enjoyable enough that I wanted to see it through to the end.

Trophy Hunting
The trophies are well designed, though on the easy side. There's trophies for completing the story which means playing it through twice for each version of the morality story line, which while there's limited differences between the two, felt well handled. There are a few collectables trophies, and some for doing specific moves with your powers. Nothing too out of the ordinary. There's no multiplayer, so no online trophies, making this effectively an ever-green trophy list, which is nice. Easy but fulfilling.

Please note I rate games based on a true rating scale, not some skewed scale where a 7/10 is somehow a bad rating. I also see no reason to devote a needless amount of the scale to grading various levels of bad. A bad game is bad, end of story.
Therefore: 1-star = Bad, 2-star = Mediocre, 3-star = Good, 4-star = Great, and 5-star = Exceptional.
A 5-Star rating from me, will be as rare as unicorn crap. Exceptional, means exceptional!


Rating: Great
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