Review: Infamous: Second Son (2014)

With a brand new protagonist, a new engine, and plenty of new powers to play with, Second Son shows why everyone needs a PS4 in their lives.

Infamous: Second Son steps away from its predecessors with its comic book roots and becomes much more grounded, real, and action packed – making it the best of the series and the most fleshed out one at that.

Now what I came to realise quickly when I started playing is that this is the superhero game that everyone has been wanting from this series. The powers are fast, fun and work great in battle and once you know how to use them correctly I found myself being a one man army with no one being able to stop me. That’s what this genre of game is all about and when they are as fleshed out and polished, its hard to moan about with how beautifully they look with the new engine – whether it’s the individual particles of smoke, or the light of the neon flowing through your fingers.

Whilst the morale choices of the character don’t hit the mark, as I feel the bad karma side doesn’t really fit the character like it did with Cole, I still quickly fell in love with Delsin – someone who feels more real, weightier and realistic than other characters. It’s a change for the series and might not sit well with many fans but it’s something you quickly come to enjoy.

Seattle, the setting for the game, is beautifully detailed and immersive.

Within the first 10 minutes of playing I was shocked at how beautiful the game was and left me staring at the screen taking it all in making me wonder how they managed to get all of this on screen. It’s clear from the word go that the PS4 has been used to its full potential here with every street lamp, car and person feeling unique and different. The city of Seattle is completely diverse and beautiful to look at on screen, making it feel like every single building, alley way and signs are diverse and different. The lighting effects glisten on the new engine making everything look more beautiful then before. With the odd occasional stutter, which were few and far between even when I was watching things blow up before my eyes, it blew my mind just how well the engine handled everything on screen.

The stand out performance in this game is Troy Baker as the new hero or villain which ever route you go down as Delsin – it blows my mind just how talented Baker really¬†is, whether he’s being snarky, reckless, a jerk or just plain evil and horrible every expression is able to be seen on his face, every wrinkle, smile and change of expression. Sucker Punch shows that a big production value wasn’t just to cover up a weak cast with a strong main cast of actors, each one with their own expressions and feelings changing if you played it as a hero or villain.

What blew my mind straight away was just how much replay value there was playing through both good and bad karma as both sides change the game and story completely with each dialogue and expression changing.

When I first started the game I hoped that Delsin, being a younger character and being more brash, wasn’t just going to be cocky and a jerk. Delsin is a young man who in this world is filled with anger and idealism of being someone and goals in life. So once you get powers those inner conflicts and mind battles become tense and his fine line battle between right and wrong become hard to choose between. While Delsin is no different from characters we’ve seen in other games, Baker manages to show a young man thats conflicted, dark and has a lot of charm about him making him very likeable. With that and a brilliantly dark villain in the form of Augustine it makes for a brilliant showdown and a ending that finally delivers for all you have been working for unlike previous titles in the series.

Troy Baker’s performance shows just how talented he really is.

The only problem with having a strong lead and a strong villain is that the side cast is sometimes under developed and doesn’t feel like they were used to their full potential. An example being the neon superwoman Abigail “Fetch” who you meet about 3-4 hours into the game in my case who is interesting and brilliantly fun to watch but she doesn’t feel like she was used to her full potential. Each encounter with a new cast member is done quicker making the game just feel like its over before its begun. I say this because if you were to speed run the game you can finish the game within 7 hours which is highly possible as, while their is an upgrade system, it never feels like its needed as virtually went through the game without using it.

The plot itself feels too straightforward to get to the main plot points, so you never feel like your having to make any real hard morale choices when it comes down to the option of saving or corrupting a character. There is only one exception to this when you are given the choice to kill or save a on specific character and it feels well deserved and that they have made you work for it which I just wish the rest of the game felt the same way. While there are the odd plot dips it doesn’t make Second Son feel any less detractive and down right brilliant to play.

With four powers to gain smoke neon and the other two – I won’t spoil them but they are equally different and brilliant – they make the world feel like its all for the taking and that nothing can stop you. That and a karma bar that fills up to the side, which enables you to deliver explosive damage and powers, makes for some beautiful visuals on the screen. The skill tree system in the game, whilst nearer to the end of the game, doesn’t feel needed as you feel like a super power one man wrecking ball feels fleshed out and brilliant. It makes it much easier now to focus on one power that you may prefer to the others or you can split it among multiple powers and become unstoppable. What’s also brilliant is that each power and upgrade changes its play style. So neon for example is easier to make it round the city wall running and jumping at full sprint onto a wall face whilst smoke powers feel much more for the combat side with each upgrade making each smoke bomb, rocket and projectile feeling strong and more explosive.

The new super powers in the game make you feel unstoppable.

The streets of Seattle are full to the brim of random karma events which are available to you from the get go and are easy to find, so you never feel like you have to look hard for places to use your powers and to put them to good or bad use. DUP bases are full to the brim of chances to show off the capabilities of the engine and the game with epic fire fights against dozens of solders jumping from tower to wall and blowing them to pieces. They make for brilliant gameplay and a great way to get more upgrade points to make your powers even stronger against the DUP forces.

The most best part of Delsin as a character is how well he flows moving from building to building each power offering different ways to traverse the city – whether its dashing through vents and coming out on top of buildings or using your neon to run up, over and across buildings. What’s great is that they have taken a well established parkour system that they had with the originals and updated them and made them feel fresh and new and flow even better then before. With the use of parkour with your array of different powers it makes for some brilliant gameplay making everything feel like it flows and feel fun and fast paced.

The only problem I really had with the game is that the bad karma side of the game doesn’t feel like it fits with Delsin’s code and the way he is as a person. At no point does he feel like he ever wanted to kill people or be a monster but I guess being young and full of anger, it’s to be expected. But when you have a police officer for a brother and no real emotion from Delsin when he’s killing civilians and police officers it just doesn’t feel like they have done much to update the karma system from the previous titles. Like I said before, the moral choices aren’t really there so you never feel any reason to partake in doing bad or good karma choices in the open world part of the game which, when your playing a game that is all about making the tough choice between right and wrong, it’s hard to see why they didn’t update and progress the system further.

Overall Second Son shows why everyone needs a PS4 with its fleshed out open world, a brilliant well fleshed out and weighted protagonist and a story that ends with it packing a real punch it makes for a brilliant game with loads of replay value. Seattle makes for a brilliant place to play around in whether its helping people, stopping drug dealers or just blowing thing to pieces everything looks great and brilliant on a new engine and new system that runs smoother then anything I’ve seen before.

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