inFAMOUS: Second Son places you in the Converses of the series’ newest protagonist, Delsin Rowe, who possesses abnormal fashion sense (I’m looking at you, beanie hat) as well as the ability to absorb other Conduits’/superhumans’ powers.
Second Son takes place seven years after inFAMOUS 2, and this isn’t just a fact; it’s made clear throughout the game that the events of inFAMOUS 2 are still fresh in people’s minds, and this is one of Second Son’s biggest pros: the fact that wherever you go in the game, the world feels real, populated, and alive. If you decide to drop down to ground level and walk among the mere mortals, citizens of Seattle will whip out their smartphones and cameras to take pictures of you, whilst making their thoughts known to those around them. This allows you to really see below the physical changes of choosing your karma path, and instead focus on the reactions of the Seattleites who you’ve either opted to save or condemn.
This brings us on nicely to the game’s karma system, which works in a similar style to the first two games, in that you have the choice to be the good guy or the bad guy and, therefore, tailor the game’s story. However, unlike the previous two games in which the player could choose to do anything at any time, no matter what path they had followed up to then, Second Son’s karma paths are much more linear, which is unfortunate. Rather than allowing you to change your character’s destiny on-the-fly, the game for some reason decides that as soon as you pick a path to go down, you must remain on that path when you start missions. Also, when you gain the ‘Neon’ power, it becomes incredibly difficult to subdue enemies, which is necessary if you wish to gain good karma as opposed to killing your enemies to gain bad karma. To subdue enemies, you must aim for the legs when you fire Neon at them. This sounds simple enough, until you are faced with a horde of fast-moving soldiers, all with their guns pointed straight at you… then it becomes a problem, and an annoying one at that.
However, it’s relatively simple to escape these issues by fleeing into the huge open-world Sucker Punch has given you that is Seattle. The Sony-owned and Seattle-based studio has allowed players to venture into a real-world location for the first time in the series. This not only allows gamers to visit real life landmarks, but also adds a layer of realism and authenticity to the game, that allows the citizens of the game’s virtual concrete jungle to feel more alive and real. This feeling of realism is only amplified by the wondrous, stunningly beautiful graphics that are only possible on the PS4. Puddles form in front of you and reflect the bright neon of the city, people go about their daily business, and weather systems vary and change at the drop of a hat.
Within this huge, open, digital Seattle, a wide selection of missions can be found, including story and side missions. Story missions, as you’d expect, progress the story of Second Son, whilst side missions provide the player with a mixture of situations. The former are the cream of the crop due to their sheer variety. They range from gaining and experimenting with new powers, to boss battles. Boss battles are the game’s weakest link. They are repetitive, tedious and angering as they feature you performing the same routine of attack-dodge/run-attack three or four times consecutively as you slowly and painfully shred away the enemy’s health bar. Anyway, back to the main missions. For the vast majority of them, you combat the D.U.P.: a group set up by the US Government to capture so-called “Bio-terrorists” (a name given by the D.U.P. to Conduits) and take them off the streets and into specialised prison camps. Ironically, the D.U.P. is made up of soldiers with the Conduit gene, which enables them to become superhuman. Side missions, on the other hand, are initially fun to begin with as they give you a break from the frantic action of the main missions and allow you to tackle them at your own pace. They also mean that you are able to completely drive the D.U.P. out of areas of the city, working in a similar fashion to Far Cry 3’s outposts in that it prevents them from spawning in that part of the map. My personal favourite are the ‘spray paint’ missions. However, they soon stray into repetitive territory, as the format remains the same, with different environments being the only difference between them.
These missions can be tackled in a varying ways using the skill tree, which enable the player to upgrade Rowe in the ways they wish. For example, interested in upgrading your smoke powers but not your neon? You can do that by using your power shards accordingly. Power shards can be collected by keeping an eye on the mini-map (which, on occasion, can be confusing to use) for blue circles, which indicate either active or crashed drones that are powered by shards.
Delsin Rowe is the host of these powers and the hero or anti-hero of the story, and he is arguably more interesting than previous protagonist, Cole MacGrath. It’s so interesting to witness a character you control adapt to his powers and the fact he is now a Conduit. Whereas Cole was melancholy and serious, Delsin is a typical youth. He is brash, cocky and laid back… he even has a can of spray paint! All he’s missing is a skateboard.
All in all, inFAMOUS: Second Son is a fantastic iteration to enter the inFAMOUS series and the best PS4 exclusive to date. It is a shame, then, that is brought down by repetitive side missions and irritating boss battles, that should have been left to gather dust in the last generation.
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