Written by Twisted Ideas
It was has been three years between games when Infamous 2 surprisingly closed the idea of a trilogy with Cole MacGrath. Fans of the series have been on their toes waiting to see if the series would ever return. When Infamous Second Son was finally announced and released last year, fans were anxious to see where the series would go next. There hasn’t been as much fanfare since the game’s release. Is it the smaller install base or is it because Second Son doesn’t live up to the series’ standard.
Infamous Second Son
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
What is it about?
Delsin Rowe is apart of the Akomish Native tribe who is a delinquent and often is in trouble with authorities. During an argument with his cop brother Reggie, a conduit convoy crashes and three conduits escape. One conduit threatens the two when Delsin learns that he has absorbed his powers.
Umm Delsin, that’s usually not where you’re supposed to see the Space Needle from.
The D.U.P (Department of Unified Protection) investigates the tribe in search for the “bio-terrorists” who escaped and has set up a headquarters in Seattle. The D.U.P leader Brooke Augustine tortures the tribe as she tries to get information out of them not discovering that Delsin is a conduit himself. The tribe is permanently injured and Delsin and Reggie travel to Seattle to steal Augustine’s power and heal the Akomish. The problem is whether or not these powers will go to Delsin’s head.
How does it play?
Infamous is a third person action adventure sandbox game. Delsin initially has control of smoke abilities that allows him to move through vents and fences, glide through the air and shoot and attack enemies. He receives multiple abilities that have similar functions and has new ways to traverse the city with ease.
As the game’s title suggests, Delsin’s will be tempted to become evil. Several times in the game you will have to make karma decisions that will influences Delsin’s personality, how people view him and how certain events will play out.
There are actions that you can perform in the city that also shifts your Karma towards good or evil. Helping citizens or subduing enemies will give you good Karma and harming the innocent or causing excessive force gives you evil karma. When your karma is high enough then you will have access to exclusive abilities to that nature.
Pew, Pew, Pew.
You will eventually gain access to super moves that clear the area of enemies that require good or evil karma to charge. When you’re in good karma you have to perform 7 good actions with no evil actions to activate. When in evil karma you have to perform 7 evil actions before the time runs out and resets the counter.
The city has several side missions to perform that mostly provide upgrades as well as reduce the D.U.P’s influence in the city.
In Infamous 2 Cole MacGrath did eventually gain two abilities and no restrictions on its use. Delsin unfortunately can only use one ability at a time. Delsin has to drain a power source in order to change his active ability.
Delsin’s abilities are much better for vertical traversal than Cole’s. His abilities allow him to quickly scale the Seattle skyscrapers and reduces a lot of the parkour necessary which Cole relied heavily on.
I feel so welcomed.
The D.U.P turned Seattle into a police state and when you enter the city it’s completely under their surveillance. The first major control point is their mobile command center. These are heavily guarded bases and upon its destruction all of the additional side missions become visible on your minimap. Side missions will reduce the D.U.P.’s control. When their control is low enough then you can challenge them to a showdown to drive them out of the area. Once the D.U.P. are driven out of an area then you will rarely see them on the streets.
The experience system has been replaced by collectable blast shards. You powers and abilities can be upgraded with blast shards found by destroying D.U.P. mobile command centers and patrol drones. Certain abilities require multiple abilities to be upgraded an as well as good or evil karma.
How does it look?
Second Son is set in Seattle. While I’ve never been to Seattle, multiple major landmarks are found in the game, not just the Space Needle. While I doubt the game is a one to one recreation of the city’s streets but the landmarks standout and are very memorable.
Did I mention that there’s the Space Needle?
The textures on the character models don’t look as good as I would have expected for a next-gen game. Then again I haven’t played too many next-gen games to compare. The environment textures are quite good and there is a good amount of detail in the city even if they could look a little better.
Second Son uses a graffiti aesthetic in the game’s design. While the game is made to look realistic, the game’s cutscenes are presented in graffiti, similar to how the first Infamous had a comic book style during cutscenes. The graffiti plays a big role to Delsin’s character design. The first thing he does is vandalize a billboard of his’s brother. He has multiple logos spray painted logos on his back and he dresses and acts like a punk.
You stick figures vs my army men.
Delsin’s smoke abilities don’t have the visual flare of the other two and the smoke doesn’t show well in bad lighting and against dark backgrounds. The video and neon give an unnatural yet visually striking look to the game. Smoke is nothing new that you’ve seen in realistic looking games but video and especially neon makes the game look memorable.
Don’t worry Brent. You’ll be with us forever and ever.
The game is very hectic so when you’re scrambling to find cover or look for something to drain the camera gets caught behind the environment a lot. Often times you will be running blind with Delsin taking up most of the camera.
How does it sound?
The game uses a mix of upbeat and downbeat rock tracks during the action. The tracks are good but aren’t too memorable. A lot of the game takes place while you’re traversing the city and there isn’t too much music.
The voice actors really put in great work despite on your personal feelings on any of the characters. There isn’t a big cast but they are all very distinct and have a lot of personality that shines in their dialogue and personalities.
What do I think?
Infamous Second Son is a fun game and has excellent visual designed but is lacking compared to Infamous 1 and 2.
The original Infamous worked off a fun and innovative gameplay and a strong narrative with an excellent, unexpected twist. Infamous 2 improved on its gameplay, story telling and characterization that lead to the good and bad endings both being incredibly lasting and powerful.
Second Son feels like a second-rate X-Men story but really fails to capture how the conduits are discriminated. The D.U.P. takes the sole role of the villains in the story. There isn’t a character like The Voice of Survival that constantly antagonizes you in the shadows and you aren’t walking the streets as much as Cole did to feel how the citizens react to you. The good ending doesn’t really lead to a sequel while the evil ending does have potential but has no real hook other than Delsin being a villain.
The good or evil, the game always says you’re the monster Augustine.
The supporting cast is strong. Augustine is a great villain. She’s menacing, powerful and genuinely hateable. Fetch and Eugene are good supporting characters but the game is shorter than other games. They don’t get much room to grow outside of their introduction missions. Reggie is great. Even though his thoughts on conduits is often confused especially where Delsin is concerned, Reggie is a lovable character to have around.
The removal of experience and gameplay feats makes combat less important which can be a good thing. Combat is fun but very hectic. When the D.U.P control of the streets is high it’s hard to collect blast shards or start side missions without being interrupted. The option to avoid fights without the feeling of missing out on anything is nice because fighting every D.U.P. soldier, cop or drug dealer is distracting.
The boss fights are very creative. The take advantage of the abilities of the conduits and make unique battles. The only problem is that the fights last a bit too long for the amount of ideas they had. As long as you can find cover you will eventually wear the boss down. If you lose however you will have to make back a lot of progress.
As the series continues I get more annoyed with the Karma system. Sucker Punch tells great stories in their games and the karma system is an unnecessary restriction. Second Son tells a story that doesn’t take advantage of the karma in a meaningful way. Other than a few story missions that end differently there’s only one point where the change is clearly different. Karma doesn’t even influence the most emotional scene in the game. The ending is the only real change made by Karma. The system doesn’t change your abilities that much either. It’s really feels like Sucker Punch should have put more work on the story or just stop calling the game Infamous to finally get rid of the Karma system.
Should you get it?
I found Infamous Second Son for $20 during the holiday sales. At this price it’s definitely worth it. The Infamous series is really one of the best superhero games. While Second Son isn’t as good as the first two (must play PS3 games) the game is still action packed, enjoyable and still has a collectible and completionist element to keep players hooked for a short while at least. The game benefits by not being as distracted as the previous games and the smaller cities and more convenient transportation makes the game move at a better pace. I hope there will be a sequel that brings the standard back up to the first two games.