Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Ratings: T (ESRB), 16 (PEGI)
Reviewed on PS4
Sucker Punch’s latest installment in the inFAMOUS franchise, Second Son, is an impressive display of what the PS4 can offer with many intense particle effects, a high amount of detail on the city of Seattle and a smooth frame rate. The game also has some of the best voice acting in the industry, exhilarating powers and a well written story. However, the lack of enemy variety and character interplay within the narrative lets it down.
inFAMOUS: Second Son is a spun off story for the series in the city of Seattle. Seven years after inFAMOUS 2, you are Delsin Rowe, a new super powered being (conduit) who is faced against a government agency called the Department of Unified Protection (DUP). In a series of events, he gains the power of taking elements away from other conduits and decides to go after the leader of the DUP.
In this narrative, you have Delsin — a rebellious twenty-something who has a good sense of humor — and his brother, Reggie — a cop who is always worried about Delsin, but has to arrest him very often for his graffiti work. Both characters are incredibly likable and share a great comedic relief to the chaos in inFAMOUS: Second Son as most of the conversations between them are hilarious.
Overall, the story had great potential and the characters have plenty of personality, but there wasn’t enough interaction between Delsin and his crew to get enough backstory on them. There is a brief video that shows each character’s history, but other than that, I felt cheated by how little Delsin worked with them unlike Cole in inFAMOUS 2. There was, however, a frequent interplay between Delsin and Reggie.
To continue on, the game hosts some of the best voice actors around in the industry right now including Troy Baker, Laura Bailey and Travis Williamham who all lend their acting chops to the game and it shows. They lend plenty of personality and excellent performances to the characters they play. Plus Christine Dunford who voices the main antagonist in the game and the writers of Second Son, truly make you hate the DUP and her character with her fantastic performance of someone who is hard to read, but yet, very stern.
In true inFAMOUS fashion, Second Son features the karma system once again but this time, it did not feel that impacting. Not once did the game have a decision of something that will change the world forever, but there was one excellent inclusion which tested the sense of anger within Delsin which could either make him a killer of someone who may not deserve to die, or forgive due to the circumstances. Second Son never reached the scale that its predecessor did but you can choose to corrupt or try to help the conduits you befriend as well.
Without a thrilling combat system, inFAMOUS: Second Son’s fantastic characters and voice actors would be undercurrent, but the game has one of the best around. With a smooth frame rate, Delsin moves fluidly as he fights, and unlike in previous inFAMOUS games, he can free-aim his attacks. Throughout the adventure, Delsin will continuously gain new powers, and in result, it never feels old as Sucker Punch gives you new ways to play in the main story. Melee attacks also feel incredibly satisfying with a deep hitting sound and a slight focus on what Delsin’s doing through a slight camera shake.
However, if you decide to complete everything and go on side-quests, there is a certain amount of tedium from the small variety of enemy types. Over and over again, you will have to consider the same tactics on every side mission or moment they notice you and it’s frustrating. inFAMOUS 2, in particular, had plenty of enemies to fight and it did not grow old, but in inFAMOUS: Second Son, having only half a dozen enemy types truly lets the game down once you’ve completed the main story.
In addition, the side quests lack in depth which makes this game even more baring to complete. Finding a hidden camera in a certain area is pretty lame, finding a secret agent within the crowd and then fighting them is once again dull because of the lack of enemy variety, and spraying graffiti on a wall adds a sense of humor with Delsin’s creative mind at work, but over and over again, this, too, becomes tedious. All of this and a few more lacking side quests, such as destroying DUP command center and jammers, add to the liberation of Seattle’s many districts from the Department of Unified Protection but it will be an aggravating task to do so.
You can also look for blast shards which upgrade your character’s abilities and replay the game once more with either evil karma or good karma to see how certain situations turn out. With either good or evil karma, you can also unlock various abilities that one side wouldn’t receive. One downside of the karma system is that to get as many power upgrades as possible, you have to be either fully good or evil to unlock them all so you are encouraged to go for a full playthrough of either side. Sadly, you cannot pick and choose when deciding either the good or evil story choice if you want every upgrade possible. In addition, if you have fully heroic karma and want to choose the evil decision for the ending, that is not possible as it is locked unlike inFAMOUS 2. The one playthrough that focuses on the story takes around 10-12 hours so no matter how you play the game, Second Son offers a lot, even when there are boring side quests.
Despite the low variety in enemy types and the boring side quests, inFAMOUS: Second Son excels at making you feel like you’re controlling a badass superhero. With the powers of smoke, you can go through wind tunnels on the side of a building and jet through to a rooftop in the matter of seconds. With neon, you can run in rapid speed on the side of buildings and jump off rooftops with the sense of high acceleration. While I won’t spoil the other powers, Sucker Punch have provided an array of superb gameplay possibilities. Much like the classic Spider Man 2 video game back on the PS2, it is exhilarating to traverse around the city with these powers. What makes it even better is that Delsin is enjoying himself while in previous inFAMOUS games, Cole hated the powers he was bestowed.
Another aspect of this sequel that will make you come back over and over again is the visual masterwork they have placed in the game. First and foremost is the spectacular lighting system which truly stands out as the sunlight shimmers on the puddles of the rainy city of Seattle. Second, is the environmental design with real life structures from Seattle, colorful neon signs and the lush parks. Next are the character models which were motion captured and look realistic among this crazy superpower filled world. And lastly, there are the particle effects within battle which truly look amazing with the ashes of smoke lifting from an enemy or neon from a sign being sucked away by Delsin. This game hosts all of this and more, with a rock solid frame rate and no loading screens. Amazing.
inFAMOUS: Second Son is honestly the first next generation game that has wowed me. Sucker Punch have proved that the PS4 is a powerful machine.
What doesn’t feel powerful in the slightest is the very low-key soundtrack. While the instruments used for inFAMOUS: Second Son are interesting, no one particular piece stands out and that’s disappointing as Seattle is one of the landmark cities of rock ‘n’ roll in the United States. I would have loved a heavy rock soundtrack to fit with Delsin’s rebellious personality. Despite that, the sound design behind Second Son is very detailed. For example, the sounds of the city and the puffs of smoke that come out of Delsin’s hands.
inFAMOUS: Second Son is the game that many PS4 owners have been waiting for despite its lame side missions, lack in enemy variety and disappointing soundtrack. With spectacular visuals, exhilarating powers and a story well written and voiced — though lacks in character interplay — inFAMOUS: Second Son is worth picking up.