If you’ve been holding out on buying a PS4, patiently waiting for that one “must-have” title – I’m pleased to announce that day has finally come with the release of inFAMOUS: Second Son. Second Son is definitively the best inFAMOUS game yet and far exceeds anything currently available on the PS4 in terms of scope, visuals and character performance. Sucker Punch has made a host of significant changes to take the series in an exciting new direction and best of all, there’s not a Cole MacGrath in sight!
Set 7 years after the events of inFAMOUS 2, Second Son sees the government attempting to deal with the advent of new Conduits who possess “potentially” dangerous powers. In charge of controlling the chaos is the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.), a militant police force who locates and imprisons those with unique abilities. Naturally this doesn’t sit well with game’s main protagonist Delsin Rowe who inherits supernatural smoke powers after aiding a survivor of a Conduit-filled bus crash. This sets Delsin on a one-man mission to take down the D.U.P. and free every captured Conduit all while wearing a stupid beanie that hides the world’s worst haircut.
Yes, Delsin is a douche. He dresses like Justin Bieber, spews cheesy one-liners every 5 minutes and makes that same stupid face each time he gains a new ability but it’s all of these things that make him so great! Unlike Cole “Gravel Voice” MacGrath, Delsin is constantly in awe of his super powers and his infectious excitement translates through to the player. This is by far the most enjoyable inFAMOUS game to date and provides the live-saving shot in the arm that the franchise needed. Almost everything you do in this beautifully realised Seattle is inherently fun, whether you’re running up the side of a building to storm a D.U.P. base, tracking down hidden cameras by hacking into their video feed or spray painting graffiti on any available canvas.
Traversing across Seattle as Delsin is a breath-taking experience thanks to the stunningly realistic landscape. Delsin’s abilities allow him to move at lightning speed and the intuitive controls ensure that’ll you’ll never feel the chore of lugging from one mission to the next. Throughout my dozen-hour playthrough I captured and shared several screenshots and video clips that highlighted both the game’s beauty and my own badassery! The PS4’s share functionality feels like it was made for games like this.
Second Son wouldn’t be a true inFAMOUS game if it didn’t offer a binary Good/Evil morality system. This worked relevantly well in the first game since Cole’s powers proved to be a curse rather than a gift, however Delsin’s fun-loving nature and quirky personality makes transforming him into a bio-terrorist seem a little disjointed. What the morality system does do effectively is add replay value that could potentially double the game’s length. After completing the game as a Hero, the first thing I wanted to do was jump back into Seattle and wreak havoc as a badass villain!
Some of the abilities that you unlock are morality specific and the inclusion of Karmic Streak “super moves” encourages you to play in accordance to your moral stance. If you’re a Hero, subdue enemies rather than killing them and heal wounded civilians to build your Karmic meter. If you’re a wisecracking Satan spawn, build your meter by killing enemies in rapid succession, only stopping to strike down pedestrians who dare to protest against you. Once your meter is full, hit down on the D-Pad to unleash a devastating, screen filing attack which destroys everyone and everything in sight! It truly is a marvel to behold.
There aren’t many characters in Second Son but the few that do appear are entertaining caricatures who have great chemistry with Delsin. This include Delsin’s brother Reggie who is probably a cop (he mentions being one at least 67 times) and main antagonist Brooke Augustine who heads up the D.U.P. Less diverse is the game’s enemy types. You’ll pretty much be paired against the same enemies throughout the game, none of which possess even a hint of intelligence. More often than not, enemies simply run out into open areas and shoot until A) you’ve killed them or B) they’ve killed you. The fact that most enemies are bullet sponges and Delsin’s invisible lifebar drains rather quickly means that the threat of option B is always prevalent.
After taking a leave of absence in Festival of Blood, the upgrade system from the first two inFAMOUS games is back in Second Son allowing you to unlock new moves and enhance Delsin’s abilities. Upgrades are earned by collecting Blast Shards, which now pilot around the city via drones making them less arbitrary to collect. You can also earn Blast Shards by destroying D.U.P. bases but this is sometimes easier said than done. Although you initially start the game with Smoke powers, Delsin eventually learns to harness the power of Neon lights and two other elements that I’ll leave you to discover for yourself. Each new element feels dramatically different from the last and this kept me engaged and excited to progress through the campaign.
Sucker Punch’s rendition of Seattle is nothing short of gorgeous and sets a rather high graphical bar for all PS4 games to follow. Almost every district has its own distinctive flair, yet as a whole the entire map still feels well structured and cohesive. Sucker Punch even took the liberty of including several real-life stores and landmarks to add an extra layer of authenticity to their hometown, this wasn’t a necessary measure to take but it proves their commitment as developers. Unfortunately not as much effort was put in to the optional side missions that has you completing the same tasks over and over again. Of course this is still early days for the PS4 and I’m sure that whenever Delsin puts back on his beanie for the inevitable sequel, this minor issue will be addressed.
Much like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Second Son is sure to be remembered long after its release as the game that kick-started an exciting new generation for Sony. This is the first game I’ve played that feels like it couldn’t have been made for the PS3 and it has me excited for the PS4 for the first time since it launched in November. As long as you’re willing to accept Delsin for the lovable jerk that he is, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy every moment of this masterfully crafted labour of love.
This review is based on a physical retail copy of the game provided by SCEE for the PlayStation 4.