Published on April 23rd, 2014 | by Jordan King0
Review: Infamous: Second Son
Being a superhero in real life would be awesome. The idea of zipping up skyscrapers, taking out bad guys and always getting the girl is unfortunately something we will never be able to experience, so gaming is often the next best thing. Stepping into the shoes of delinquent Delsin Rowe brings us one step closer to our superhero fantasies, and manages to do so with an upbeat attitude along with a helping of edgy 90’s grunge music that effectively punctuate the gloomy yet gorgeous setting of Seattle in which Second Son takes place. Sucker Punch have polished the Infamous formula to an amazing degree, allowing Delsin to feel smoother and more defined than Cole ever did as you explore one of the most visually impressive open worlds ever seen on any platform. Unfortunately some of the glaring issues that plagued the previous games haven’t been addressed, leading to arduous repetition and frequent moments of unjustified frustration but these blemishes don’t do enough to damage what is otherwise a stellar open world adventure.
Second Son takes place several years after the previous games, society lives in fear of those unfortunate enough to be blessed with superpowers, and an organisation known as the D.U.P places the general public under martial law to root out the “Bio-Terrorists” hiding amongst them, or Conduits as they are otherwise known. Delsin Rowe is one of these individuals, and after a freak accident he finds himself with the ability to absorb powers, and Delsin and his brother Reggie set out to use these to save their native american tribe, with the outcome subject to change depending on the decisions you make throughout your playthrough. The chemistry between siblings Delsin and Reggie is spectacular, and their moments together are easily some of the game’s very best. The voice talents of Troy Baker and Travis Willingham give their characters a sense of realism and personality that kept me invested in the lacking narrative, which feels short-lived and boring in comparison to the brilliantly written cast of characters.
The story told by Sucker Punch throughout Second Son keeps you invested until the conclusion, but lacks any distinct creativity or deviation from something we’ve already seen countless times, leading to a predictable conclusion which packs an emotional enough punch but ultimately didn’t leave me satisfied, and lingering plot holes question the motivations the villain worked so hard to uphold and fight for. The stale foundation of the narrative manages to tunnel into the mission structure, which is much the same as the previous two games except packaged with a shorter running time. You will meet a new character, acquire a new power and complete a good/evil mission depending on your moral standing. This structure of gameplay is not shaken up until the closing moments of the campaign, where some sections genuinely took me by surprise and had me wishing for more intense set pieces and variety.Second Son fails to provide a consistent and diverse range of gameplay elements to feel like a true sequel that expands upon what came before it, and makes me feel like this could have easily belonged on the Playstation 3, with significantly downgraded visuals.
Luckily playing as Delsin is an absolute thrill, combining traditional parkour elements with sweet superhero moves means navigating Seattle rarely grows tiresome, and the addition of four different powers provides a sense of variety the Infamous franchise has never had before. The standout power is definitely neon, it looks and performs the best, allowing you to sprint to your hearts content when it is fully upgraded, although this takes away much of the challenge combat would otherwise pose. Other than some subtle new additions such as using the dualshock 4 motion capabilities to spray graffiti throughout Seattle and utilising the touchpad in a nifty little fingerprint scanner gameplay remains largely similar to the previous games, and more enjoyment is had the more powerful you become. As an evil character dispatching enemies becomes a twisted art of obtaining your special move before obliterating everything around you in a fiery pit of awesome particle effects. There is very little depth to the moral choice system, as staying neutral isn’t really an option if you want the best powers and upgrades.There is more than enough diversity to warrant a second play-through to see all Second Son has to offer, as you will have access to different side activities and cutscenes, and not to mention some badass new jackets to customize Delsin with if you dedicate time to clearing the D.U.P out of Seattle.
Second Son is a feast for the eyes, a shimmering showcase of what your shiny new console is capable of, and an exciting sign of what to expect from the next generation systems in the coming years. Everything from Delsin’s red beanie to the reflection of light in a murky puddle is fantastically detailed and rendered, complimented further by an urban inspired art design brimming with colour and personality, making this alternate version of Seattle a joy to behold. The framerate may fluctuate when action fills the screen but is minimal enough that it becomes difficult to notice once you’re in the swing of things. The world itself could have used more variety but this would be difficult considering Second Son takes place in a real world setting, which acts as a hindrance rather than a positive creative influence the developers have drawn from. The game world feels smaller and more constricted as a result, despite still being a joy to explore.
Infamous: Second Son is a fantastic example of how a superhero game should be done, giving you sizeable world and an ordinance of powers to wreak havoc with, but at the same time places the consequences of your actions on your shoulders, making you fully aware of the narrative impact your maiming and killing could have on the endgame. It may stumble along the way with some frustrating design decisions and an unsatisfying narrative but sets a benchmark for what the Playstation 4 can do from a visual perspective without compromising on the fast paced gameplay the Infamous titles are renowned for. It would have been nice to have the envelope pushed out a little further in terms of gameplay innovation, but this is certainly a step in the right direction for Sony’s Sucker Punch.
Summary: A visually jaw dropping superhero adventure with an admirable personality and cast of characters, definitely recommended.