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Review

inFamous Second Son Review

Here comes the son.

While Killzone Shadow Fall stepped away from the series’ traditional formula, inFamous Second Son has much more in common with its predecessors. It’s unmistakably a sequel, unbelievably fun and undoubtedly another great exclusive for Sony.

Delsin, the protagonist and titular second son, is quite a bit different from Cole. His general demeanour and energy makes him seem much less mature, and he’s not quite as grounded as his electric precursor. It’s quite fitting that the game starts with a subdued introduction, nowhere near as explosive as inFamous 2. It takes the form of an odd motion control sequence, but introduces Delsin in a suitable way.

He’s clearly the catalyst for the direction Sucker Punch have been wanting to take the series. He’s arrogant yet funny, and this comes from a fantastic performance by Troy Baker, who provides both the voice and face for our hero. You may remember how they infamously redesigned Cole before the second game to be less grumpy and more street smart, but flipped the switch in the other direction after feedback – people wanted Cole, but the development team needed to let him go.

And now, that’s what they’ve managed. It’s seven years after the events of inFamous 2 and – with the good ending canon – you’ll meet a world surprisingly devoid of Conduits. Brooke Augustine and her dystopian Department of Unified Protections (D.U.P.) have systematically captured any and all rogue Bio-terrorists – that’s their propaganda driven buzzword for Conduit – with their own powers of concrete, allowing them to control areas and strike fear into citizens.

It’s a new world and a good set up, which leads to Delsin discovering that he can absorb powers when he meets one of these so called Bio-terrorists. While he’ll find it hard to control them at first, you’ll soon be back in full swing of upgrading, using and gaining new abilities as you go. It’s very much the same template as the previous games, but the introduction of a new power in every quarter makes the pacing much tighter and keeps the gameplay fresh.

“The introduction of a new power in every quarter makes the pacing much tighter and keeps the gameplay fresh.”

Really, inFamous is all about powers. Obviously, there are Delsin’s powers, which start off with cool smoke-based abilities, before he gains a stunning set of neon-based powers. A couple of other elements come into play later in the game too, but we’ll save those as surprises for you to find out yourself.

But there are also other powers at work – the power struggle between good and evil plays a major part in the game, for example, and from the get go you’ll want to choose a path, be it blue or red, and stick with that throughout the game. That doesn’t only represent different story choices, but entirely different missions, abilities and even visual changes as Delsin’s smoke glows even more red or his neon hue shifts along from traditional purple to magenta, as the evil red invades.

This is displayed through the DualShock 4’s lightbar to great effect, which edges from a neutral white ever closer to your chosen side. Delsin’s attire changes too, but the biggest change comes with the powers he utilises.

secondsonbig1

An ashy, light grey trail of smoke will follow if you’re good, though blood red fiery ash will rain down if you’ve chosen the evil path. Either way, it looks stunning. Delsin breaks up into thousands of particles with a single press of the circle button, his body separating into pieces of ash and then returning to his humanoid form in a matter of seconds during a smoke dash. Beyond that, there are traditional shooting mechanics, heavy hitting blasts or huge special attacks, which require a karmic streak to unlock.

“Delsin’s neon powers might be the best and most well-realised effects used in superhero fiction yet.”

While the smoke powers will keep you content for the first few hours, it really takes things up a notch when the neon comes out to play. Once again, there will be differences here depending on your morality – light blue-purple for good, and magenta for evil – but it always looks stunning.

Delsin’s neon powers might be the best and most well-realised effects used in superhero fiction yet. They really give off a sense of otherworldly abilities as they brighten up the sky. Pressing circle is much more impressive with these powers – Delsin will sprint, followed by particle representations of his last actions, creating a line of human figures glowing purple. It’s beautiful in every single aspect, and the devastating karmic streak attack is truly wonderful.

To change between powers, you’ll click the touchpad to absorb that element. That means either smoke from chimneys or destroyed cars, and neon from, well… neon signs and lights. Whether it’s a massive glowing sign, or just a bar of neon light, the way Delsin absorbs these powers is simply gorgeous. The lights fade as they turn into ribbons and particles, filtering down into Delsin’s hand. Open signs disappear to black as the reds and yellows turn to purple as they reach their destination. It doesn’t get much better, and we’re only at the beginning of a long generation.

Sucker Punch have clearly poured a lot of time into these effects, but thankfully haven’t forgotten about the gameplay. It really makes you feel superpowered as you destroy the occupying D.U.P. forces. The interplay of the powers is brilliant, and abilities varied enough to make this extremely enjoyable, while the destructible environments add a further sense of power to the mix.

The morality system once again rears its head here, giving the option in-combat to subdue or execute enemies. It’s a smart decision, and one that pays off, adding anther dynamic to the gameplay.

Much of the game is based around taking out their mobile command units, by first silencing the foes around the base before taking out the unit itself, powering Delsin up and unlocking the area, with further side missions getting it down to 0% D.U.P. control.

It seems pretty standard for an open world game, and the side missions are short and sweet enough that they don’t become too repetitive. There’s spray painting, secret agent hunting, voice recorder finding and more, with things such as destroying security cameras or finding blast shards – which are now in drones, and upgrade your powers – also bringing that number down. Once you’re below 30% control, you’ll be able to engage in a big final battle to rid that area of D.U.P. agents once and for all.

infamousbig2

Naturally, aside from these standard open world mechanics, there are story missions. These are higher-octane and much more varied than the side missions, offering some detective work as Delsin tries to find other Conduits, as well as more action-based missions. You’ll even have a few boss battles, though there often isn’t enough variety in these match-ups. Morality changes things here too, with certain missions taking completely different paths depending on whether you’re fighting the good cause or just fighting back.

“Despite the extraordinary circumstances, Second Son tells a rather straightforward tale.”

Despite the extraordinary circumstances, Second Son tells a rather straightforward tale. There’s nothing quite as crazy as any of Cole’s adventures, and that combined with Seattle makes it a much more realistic venture, where Delsin has been afflicted with these powers. It’s through his brother Reggie that you’ll see how the government has twisted what Conduits stand for, coining the term Bio-terrorist, as he hopes to cure Delsin of what he sees as a curse. Reggie just thinks that he’s doing right, and whether Delsin does right or not is ultimately your choice.

The story hurtles forward at an alarming rate, which might lower the feeling of freedom even though it is always there. It’s a good narrative though, and can either be a tale of redemption or destruction depending on your choices.

While the visuals are absolutely sublime, as mentioned before, there are some strange design choices which perhaps show limitations in development. There’s no dynamic cycle, for example, with the weather and time of day changing at pre-determined sections of story progress. This does make way for some incredibly stunning vistas, such as sunsets which set the tone perfectly, or night time sections which makes the neon power even more majestic. The use of lighting in particular throughout the Seattle environment is another high point.

It’s also only running at 30 frames per second. This really isn’t an issue for Second Son, as the sense of speed is still captured well and the effects still look excellent. There’s also an impressive array of sounds for all of Delsin’s powers, with tone-setting music employed to make battles feel even more incredible. Voice acting fits in perfectly with the almost photo-realistic facial animations, which actually step out of uncanny valley at certain points.

So saying that limitations might’ve hindered Second Son is probably wrong. Sucker Punch have done everything they can to make the best looking game possible, and in that regard they’ve succeeded, as they have with many other aspects of the game.

What’s Good:

  • An awesome, high-octane and truly next generation adventure.
  • Morality system built into every aspect of the game.
  • Incredible visuals, with some startling particle effects.
  • Powers look stunning and play fantastically.
  • A decent albeit relatively straightforward story with a good cast.

What’s Bad:

  • Some strange design and narrative decisions.
  • Side missions are quite standard for an open world game and boss battles lack variety.

Second Son is very much an inFamous game. It doesn’t stray off the series’ beaten path too much, but there are enhancements in terms of gameplay and some stunning effects put to good use to create the PS4’s most fun and best looking game yet.

While the narrative might not have the same impact as previous games, it’s somewhat more of a down-to-earth tale of an ordinary man with extraordinary powers, and that’s an exciting new direction for the series to take.

Score: 9/10

45 Comments
  1. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    I want to want this game. I could do with something truly next gen for my ps4, the titles I own I’ve played to death, but I just didn’t get on with the 1st 2 in the series and since nothing much has changed I’m highly doubting I’ll get on particularly well with this.
    It’s a shame because I don’t want to miss out but at the same time I know this just isn’t for me.
    Good review though Blair!

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:06.
    • Youles
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      Exactly how I feel. I need a next gen title but not only did I not enjoy the previous games (they weren’t bad, just not my thing), you just appear to smash stuff up all the time – like a prettier looking LEGO game. I guess I’ll have to wait for The Division or The Order later in the year.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:21.
    • Amphlett
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Tony, you’ve summed up my thoughts exactly about the first two instalments, the new ‘Second Son’, how I want something truly ‘next-gen’ and how I’ve played my PS4 batch of games to death.
      Safe to to say that I agree with you on all points.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:33.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      Yup.

      That’s how I feel, looks cool but seems pretty much in line with the first two which I didn’t get on with (to say the least).

      And watching that video, aside from the graphics looking good, the gameplay suggests it isn’t for me!

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:41.
    • double-o-dave
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      Yep, count me in lads, looks pretty but just isn’t for me. Roll on The Order and Division.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:46.
    • ArrebatoTarugo
      Member
      Since: Jul 2013

      Exactly that.

      I will get back at Dark Souls 2 and wait for the next PS4 one. Child of Light for me.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:57.
    • Bilbo_bobbins
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      same as what I think. I didn’t like the first two, I tried too but wasn’t impressed. I love the visuals for this game but I can’t see it being any different to the previous ones.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 16:04.
      • Lyts1985
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Now, I liked the first one and happily played through it twice, whereas number 2 just didn’t gel with me for whatever reason. The 2nd play through felt like a chore… I don’t know if it was the new Cole, the daft story, or if I was inFamoused out. Really hope it’s not the latter!

        Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 18:02.
    • KeRaSh
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      I have to admit I’ve felt the same way about inFAMOUS 1 and I didn’t even play 2 because of that. However, Second Son completely changed my mind. The gameplay seems to be pretty similar but it just feels so much more rewarding. Smoke dashing up a building through its air vents just never gets old.
      inFAMOUS Second Son seems to have fixed all issues I had with 1 without even knowing what they were… Give it a try!

      Comment posted on 24/03/2014 at 14:10.
  2. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Yay, it doesn’t suck! *ORDERS*

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:09.
  3. kjkg
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    AAAAAAAAAAFGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    I really wanted this to get bad reviews from a purely selfish viewpoint. I would like a PS4 but can’t warrent the cost. And this (and Shadow Fall) are the 2 games I really would like. The fact this is so good just teases me even more than before.

    Nice review Blair.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:15.
    • Nocure-fd
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      I find myself in the same situation.

      I have a high end gaming PC. So it’s only exclusives that are currently influencing my decision weather to make the transition to the new generation. While this looks great, and the review makes a good case, I can’t justify a whole new system for one game (shadowfall doesn’t really interest me).

      Guess I’ll continue to hold out until Destiny, and more news on the next Uncharted. But when I do decide to jump, this will be high on the list of games to play.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:30.
      • kjkg
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        If they announced more Uncharted info I’d throw my money at them. Let’s hope for our sake they don’t!!

        Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:41.
  4. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    And it arrives in the post tomorrow! It’s my son’s first birthday on Saturday, so won’t be able to get stuck in until Sunday, but can’t wait!

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:16.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      There’s a ‘second son’ joke in there somewhere… ;)

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 15:03.
  5. Kronik76
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Good review! I’m looking forward to firing up my PS4 and playing this… in a few minutes!

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:21.
  6. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Good review! I’m pleased to read that the story is a little more down to earth – the one thing that spoiled inFamous 2, for me, was the ridiculous story. I’d also gotten a bit tired of Cole so that’s also a welcome change. Looking forward to tomorrow and this weekend :-)

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:32.
  7. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Great review, i was almost going to pick this up for the visuals alone but i’m even more encouraged now i’ve read the review. Looks like i’m going neon for the weekend! :)

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:34.
  8. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Looking about tinterweb it’s getting a mixture of scores – some as low as 6/10… Interesting, and worrying.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:41.
    • Dominic Leighton
      Member
      Since: Mar 2012

      It seems like 8/10 is about the average so that’s pretty damn good!

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 17:15.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      Some people want every game to reinvent the wheel and if it’s too similar to what came before its unacceptable. Unless it’s COD in which case more of the same IS acceptable because it’s just so totally awesome bro. High five. Also, it doesn’t help if the person writing the review didn’t like the previous games in the series either. It would be like someone who doesn’t like FPS reviewing COD and giving it 2/10.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 20:09.
  9. Taylor Made
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    Can’t wait for tomorrow, it’s a beautiful 21st, final fantasy, GZ & second sons oh man

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:41.
  10. djdustb
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    I think I am going to be waiting by the letterbox most of the morning for this. I am so glad it got a good review I loved the previous two (and the expansion pack) so this is right up my street.

    I had better finish Thief tonight otherwise it may not get a look in for while as I smash up Seattle.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2014 at 14:46.

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inFamous: Second Son
  • Developer:Sucker Punch Productions
  • Publisher:Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Platforms:PS4
  • Release Date:21/03/14

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