As a huge fan of the previous Infamous games I had high hopes when Sucker Punch Productions unveiled Infamous: Second Son at last years Playstation 4 event. The Infamous franchise has always given the player a great sense of being a superhero or supervillain depending how you play. But I will admit I was skeptical of Second Son. The main protagonist of the past games, Cole MacGrath was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a wisecracking, young rebel, Delsin Rowe. And along with that, Rowe’s powers didn’t seem as interesting as Cole’s electricity based powers..But now Infamous: Second Son is here. Does it live up to the hype?
Infamous: Second Son puts you in the shoes of 24 year old, Delsin Rowe, a rebellious Akomish Native American who, after an incident involving a D.U.P transport truck and a few conduits, discovers that he is a conduit himself. Straight away you can see the difference between Cole and Delsin. Delsin embraces his newfound abilities, he loves every minute of it. Which is in stark contrast to Cole, who never wanted his powers and saw them as a curse that isolated him from society. Troy Baker is phenomenal as Delsin, bring his charm, charisma and wit to the role, making Delsin a far more likeable and relatable character than Cole.
Set 7 years after the events of Infamous 2. The world has become a very different place. The Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P) was formed after the events of Infamous 2 to round up and imprison anyone suspected of being a “bio-terrorist”. Through fear and propaganda, Conduits, or “bio-terrorist” are treated as second class citizens and are actively sought out by the D.U.P, to be imprisoned in one of their many facilities. So needless to say, when the ice cold leader of the D.U.P Brooke Augustine meets the young snarky new conduit, Delsin Rowe, things don’t go well and Delsin’s tribe and friends are put in grave danger. And thus our hero’s journey is set in motion. Accompanied by his brother, Reggie Rowe, Delsin must fight his way through the D.U.P occupied Seattle in order to save his Akomish tribe.
Overall, I have to say the story is the weakest part of Infamous: Second Son. Now don’t get me wrong its a great story full of amazing characters and interesting plot elements. The main problem is that it’s too short. Seriously, if you were to run through the story without touching the side quests or collectables you could probably get through the story in around 8 hours. That’s far shorter than the earlier Infamous games. And while it’s a great story there just isn’t enough there. One secondary character in particular Abigail “Fetch” Walker is only around for a few missions then becomes an afterthought. And while the interaction between Delsin, Reggie and Fetch is among the strongest in the game, it just felt strange that she was cast to the side. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by that. Other characters such as Brooke Augustine and Reggie receive the most screen time.
But the interaction between Delsin and Reggie is the highlight of the story. Troy Baker and Travis Willingham bring the two brothers to life. Featuring some of the funniest lines I’ve heard since Portal 2. But beyond the jokes and brotherly fighting, there is a huge loving bond between the two brothers. Reggie is worried about Delsin, his little brother has just gained crazy powers and the D.U.P want him dead. Of course, any big brother would do anything to protect his younger sibling. Couple that with Delsin’s casual behavior and a rebellious attitude, and you get some fantastic character moments. Brooke Augustine also gets some great moments. She’s cold, calculating and isn’t afraid of doing horrible things to get what she wants. But she also has good motivation for her actions. When she is on-screen you can’t help but tense up.
But petty problems aside, the story is still great, I just wish there was more to it.
Simply put Infamous Second Son is the most beautiful game I’ve ever played. When the Playstation 4 was first released all eyes were on Killzone: Shadow Fall. And yes, Killzone:SF is a stunning game, but Infamous:SS blows it out of the water. Delsin’s smoke powers look highly detailed. When draining smoke from a chimney or destroyed car you can see each particle being sucked into Delsin’s hands. Or firing a smoke rocket which creates a beautiful cloud of smoke and fire. The same can be said for his Neon powers, which basically fires precision bolts of light at your enemy’s. Lighting is a huge thing for next-gen and Second Son proves it, like firing a Neon bolt down a street and watch it reflect off shop windows and cars. Second Son looks its best when it’s a night mission or when it’s raining. Puddles of rainwater will gather on the streets, and you’ll be able see car headlights and your neon powers reflecting off them, it simply looks amazing.
The graphics of Second Son are by far the strongest aspect of the game.
Ah gameplay the most important factor in any game! When it comes to fighting, Second Son doesn’t change the formula from the last games. You are given your basic set of powers to begin with, which can be upgraded later on through the new skill tree. Collecting blast shards is nothing new to fans of the franchise, but now you can use them to upgrade Deslin’s large range of powers. Deciding what to spend your points on adds another level to the power gameplay. Combat hasn’t changed. Smoke is the most destructive power to use. Fire off a few rockets and watch the beautiful chaos of cars exploding and baddies flying through the air. Or use Neon power, which is the speed power. Zap a few enemies, then dash across the street before unleashing more. Neon reminds me a lot of the DC superhero The Flash. With Neon equipped you are incredibly fast and enemies will have a hard time catching you. Deciding which power to use can add a strategic element to the game. This is especially important later in the game when some of the D.U.P checkpoints become increasingly difficult.
Delsin also has the usual parkour abilities, we’ve become accustomed to. You can leap, climb and dash over buildings. But the parkour elements do not feel as good as it did in Infamous 1 and 2. It’s less reliable which is a pity because I for one loved the climbing in the last games. Fortunately, this becomes less of a problem as you upgrade your powers, as they can help you get around faster than climbing ever could.
Infamous: Second Son is a great game, even an excellent game at times. And despite its shortcomings in the story, it more than makes up for them in every other. It’s an open world superhero game that makes you feel like a total powerhouse. Sucker Punch Productions’ motto for this game was “Enjoy Your Power” and that is definitely something you can do with Infamous: Second Son.