InFamous: Second Son Review
publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
developer: Sucker Punch Productions
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Mar 21, 14
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With the launch of their new console, of course Sony is going to do their best to release new games from their most popular series as quickly as possible to drum up excitement and suppress any buyers’ remorse. First they ensured that the next Killzone was a launch title, and then they pushed out inFAMOUS Second Son in the launch window. Killzone might not have been the crowd-pleaser Sony was aiming for, but inFAMOUS Second Son has hit that mark, at least it has for inFAMOUS fans. Those who have never played the first two games will most likely see all of the garish flaws inherent in the game, such as gameplay features that make little to no sense, problems with flow, and NPCs who have odd reactions to their surroundings. The inFAMOUS fan will see all of these things too, but he or she will overlook these problems for the simple fact that it is unbelievably fun to romp around the world of inFAMOUS once more.
Never knew inFamous was so romantic.
Good, I'm in the mood for Chinese food.
Second Son picks up a bit after Cole McGrath’s death (the good ending, not the evil one), where it is revealed that despite what Cole believed, his sacrifice did not kill all Conduits (think of mutants). The Conduit gene is alive and well, and it’s alive and well in a young adult of the Akomish tribe in Washington State, Delsin Rowe, Delsin does not know he is a Conduit until a transport carrying three Conduits crashes, allowing the prisoners to escape. Delsin has the ability to absorb another Conduit’s powers, much like Rogue of the X-Men, and since he’s never been around another Conduit before this moment, well, you get why he had no clue about his abilities. The first ability he absorbs is his smoke ability we’ve all seen from the trailers, but it’s not the only one he obtains.
Like the previous inFAMOUS games, Delsin can upgrade his powers by obtaining blast shards and engaging in good or evil karma activities to raise your karma levels. The higher your karma level is, the more abilities you can unlock, which is why inFAMOUS insists on an all-in attitude when it comes to choosing good or evil. Using blast shards to upgrade powers made a little more sense in the first games, as it was the Ray Sphere explosion that awakened the Conduit gene in Cole. It makes a little sense to use blast shards once again as it is suggested that they have some link to the Conduit gene, but I have a feeling that the blast shards returned for the simple fact that they’re core to the inFAMOUS series, not unlike the use of plasmids/vigors across BioShock.
The blast shards are not the only inFAMOUS staple that gets shoehorned into Second Son. One of the good karmic activities that Delsin can perform is the ability to heal random civilians. In inFAMOUS, this made sense, because 1) there was a plague going on and 2) the healing ability was suggested to Cole since he was virtually a walking defibrillator. How does zapping someone with smoke or any of Delsin’s other powers lead to healing?
The dead drop recordings have also returned to Second Son, but they feel just as forced as the healing of civilians. Before, the dead drops told the game’s backstory and provided a little more insight, and these do that a little bit, but the information isn’t as instrumental to the overall story as the dead drops have been in the past.
There is even a new Zeke to constantly yammer in Delsin’s ear, his brother, Sheriff Reggie Rowe. At least Reggie is a little more proactive than Zeke was, making his place in the game feel a little more necessary than Zeke. Plus, the brotherly banter between the two creates far more entertaining conversation than anything Zeke and Cole ever said.
Second Son has a decent enough story element, but the story isn’t as strong as it has been in the past. The reason why Delsin has left his tribe to gallivant all over Seattle is in hopes of absorbing the powers of the head of the DUP (Department of Unified Protection), and she’s set up shop in Seattle after she implanted concrete spikes in quite a few of his people. The only way to remove the concrete is by the same means it went in, so either she will have to be kind to others, which is doubtful, or he’ll have to try to nab some of her abilities. The story works for the most part and holds the overall plot together; however, the plot isn’t strong enough to hide the fact that it’s a thin veil to give Delsin and the player a reason to wreak havoc all over Seattle.
Let the running and jumping begin.
All of that said, the gameplay is so much fun, I really didn’t care about these issues or the fact that the NPCs rarely stop drinking their coffee when a war between Conduits erupts in the middle of a patio cafe. Is it annoying and yet humorous that I can literally run over NPCs while running and have them apologize to me each and every time? Completely. Is the spray paint art mini-game involving motion controls ridiculous? Very. But, I’m too busy enjoying finding every collectible, completing every side quest in each district, and running amok with Delsin’s powers to really care. I have always found joy in running around in the world of inFAMOUS almost more than the story itself, so all of these issues for the most part have bounced right off me.
I’ve only played through the good karma story of Delsin, but I’m definitely replaying Second Son again on the evil side to see how different the evil powers affect gameplay. As an added bonus, I won’t have to worry about accidentally killing civilians to negatively impact my karma and I can attack all protesters and street musicians with zero guilt. And I’ll get to dive back into those side quests once again to clear out the DUP out of every district. Forget working on my backlog this next month or so; I’m going to soak in as much inFAMOUS as I can.
8.6 Very Good
Breathtaking visuals and colors that perfectly transports you into Seattle, fun and familiar gameplay that all inFAMOUS fans will enjoy;
Even though the game is quite simple to pick up and learn, so much of the gameplay will only resonate with fans of the series.
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