Infamous: Second Son Review

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Developed by: Sucker Punch
Platform(s): Playstation 4
Release Date: March 21, 2014

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A New Beginning for Infamous

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For me, Infamous has always been an enjoyable series to play. I received the first two for free thanks to Sony’s Playstation Plus Program. The first Infamous was a pleasant surprise, even if it was a little rough around the edges. Infamous 2 was a nice improvement, but the series still felt like it was lacking something. Festival of Blood was a great expansion, and I really enjoyed the vampire theme. Still… something was missing. After playing Infamous: Second Son, I realized what that something was… a heartbeat. The previous games lacked a soul. There was almost no depth to the characters and the world around you didn’t truly feel aliveInfamous: Second Son changes that and breathes new life into the series.

Story

You play as Delsin Rowe, a 24 year-old punk with an attitude who has a knack for Graffiti. The game is set in Seattle, Washington, which is under heavy control by the DUP. Shortly after taking control of Delsin, you are introduced to his brother Reggie. Delsin has a typical “loving” relationship with his brother, who happens to be a police officer for the local Police Department. All seems well in Seattle until a nearby car crash catches Delsin’s attention. After helping a man out of the wreckage, Delsin is attacked by the stranger. Unknowingly, the stranger is a man by the name of Hank Daughtry, a crazed conduit with a license to kill. After being grappled by Hank, Delsin absorbs Hank’s Smoke power. Hank flees the scene, leaving Delsin confused and frightened. Delsin shortly catches up to Hank in a burning building down the road, where he confronts Hank about his power. Hank, who shows no interest in helping Delsin, attacks him and tells him to stay away. Hank then leads Delsin on a wild goose. After chasing Hank out of the building, you both are confronted by Augustine, the director of the DUP and a prime conduit. She offers Hank no remorse, and freezes him in place with her special power. She offers Delsin a choice, to come clean or face severe consequences. This is where you are given your first Karma choice. After you make your decision and it plays out, you are later awoken in a “hospital”. Patients can be seen sparingly throughout the place, all suffering severe injuries caused by Augustine. Delsin and his brother Reggie decide to pack up and go to Seattle. Reggie wants to help Delsin find a cure but Delsin has other plans. This is where the game really begins. Welcome to Seattle, a city filled with raging Conduits, terrified civilians and ruthless DUP members.

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Delsin meets an array of crazy characters while on his adventure throughout Seattle. One in particular is a conduit who goes by the name Fetch. Abandoned by her parents as a child, she ran from town to town with her older brother Brent, taking in as many drugs as they could get their hands on. After a massive conflict with her brother, she was taken in by the DUP. They experimented on her and taught her how to fight. She later escaped and vowed to burn Brent’s name into the chest of every drug dealer she got her hands on. Fetch plays a vital part in the story, but so do a handful of other great characters. Sucker Punch did an outstanding job this time around with giving their characters intriguing back stories. The visuals for a character’s back story are done in the art style of a comic book. Some might prefer a more traditional cinematic, but I personally like the comic book art style. I think it suits Infamous to a tee. The story goes off track at times. The presentation for the story starts off strong, but it somewhat diminishes throughout the game. There is several key moments that really pull you back in, but by that time you feel like you’ve already lost some interest in what’s going on. Now, time for one of the biggest problems that I had with the game. The story is WAY too short. I managed to beat the game three times in a two day span. I beat it twice in one day. One of my completions was done within six hours. For an open world game, this is just inexcusable, especially since there is no real side missions(other than The Paper Trail which wasn’t available for me to play at the time).

All in all, the story for Second Son is the best yet for the Infamous series, even if it falls short in length. It’s a step in the right direction in terms of the story, but it’s a big knock in terms of content. Let’s all hope that they will add side missions and a lengthier main story in the next installment.

Graphics

Speaking of Second Son’s art style, Sucker Punch did an incredible job this time around with their art design. The graffiti you see throughout Seattle is masterfully done. Each piece of graffiti is very clever and/or humorous, not only in its design, but also where it’s located. Visually, Seattle is absolutely gorgeous. Sucker Punch wanted to bring the city to life, and for the most part, I think they succeeded. They took portions of the real life Seattle and made a map of their own. The character design is well done this time around. It’s a huge upgrade from Infamous 2. Out with the generic looking Cole and in with the badass named Delsin.

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It’s the little things that make Second Son so beautiful. Delsin’s jacket blows in the wind. You can see the threads that are weaved throughout his beanie. The city’s reflection bounces off of the puddles. Delsin’s powers look gorgeous when on display. The lighting in the game is stunning. The way the sun beams down on Seattle is breathtaking. The way your Neon Power looks on a rainy night. The way the lighting reflects off of wet surfaces. It’s all just a thing of beauty. Overall, Infamous: Second Son looks superb. This is one thing that I think Sucker Punch really excelled at and it really shines… literally.

Gameplay

Infamous fans are going to feel right at home. Though the gameplay offers more this time around, the core gameplay itself is more or less the same exact thing that it was in the previous Infamous titles. Is this a bad thing? Well it depends on if you liked the previous games or not. For me, this isn’t a problem. Look at games like God of War or Call of Duty. They’ve had the same core gameplay for almost an entire decade now. Do you want to know why? Because there is nothing that needs to be changed. Most people would agree that the gameplay is perfect for those two games. Can the same thing be said about Second Son? I have no gripes with the gameplay other than the fact that scaling a building felt pointless because all of your powers could literally take you from the ground floor to the rooftop in two seconds flat. In the previous games, climbing buildings is something that you had to do a lot. In Second Son… not so much. What’s the point of climbing a building when you can basically fly up it, right?

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A new feature that Sucker Punch added was the ability to do graffiti. Can you do graffiti on any wall? No. Just like “tagging” in GTA, graffiti can only be done in exact locations around the map. Second Son offers you two choices when you approach a graffiti location. One will earn you good karma, while the other one will earn you evil. The “good” graffiti is usually something pleasant or offensive towards the DUP. The “evil” graffiti is usually something rebellious and something that anyone in Seattle can take offense to. My one gripe with it all is that no matter what the graffiti ends up looking the exact same. It doesn’t matter how you spray it on the wall. It just makes the whole “mini-game” that you do feel pointless. They were better off just making Delsin do it himself rather than making you spray it. It would have been much quicker and less tedious. I won’t spoil any of the powers for you, but I will tell you that they are all ridiculously awesome. Smoke is cool at first, but it starts to feel obsolete once you unlock the others. The final two powers are completely badass. That’s all I’m going to say. Don’t spoil yourself!

The skill tree for each power is well implemented. Just like in the previous Infamous titles, certain abilities for certain powers depend on where your karma stands. If you are a Hero, you will not have access to any of the evil abilities and vice versa. The melee system is pretty much the exact same thing that it was in the previous games. Nothing much has really changed. Enemies are still aggressive, but they’re not as bad as they used to be. You can actually walk past a majority of DUP members as long as you’re not on their turf or inside an area that you’re not suppose to be. Be sure not to use any of your powers around them though or they will go will berserk on you in a heartbeat. The only time that I found the A.I. to be truly challenging was when I was outnumbered. Never once did I have a problem with just one single person. The boss battles are fun, even if there is only a few of them. There is two fights that really stick out to me, and they were both with the same person. Each boss battle is pretty epic though, making me reminisce about another Sony Exclusive. One battle in particular felt as if it was ripped right out of a God of War game.

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Blast Shards make a return, and boy are they fun. If you’re a fan of doing collectibles in a game, then fret no further because Second Son is your answer. Just like in previous Infamous titles, blast shards add to your powers and abilities. This time though, there is a little catch. They don’t just sit around anymore for you to just pick up… you have to go catch them. They are now a part of these little remote controlled crafts that fly around Seattle. You have to shoot them down in order to collect your blast shard. Shards also come in DUP Armored Vehicles which can be extracted after blowing them up. Switching between powers is different this time around. Instead of having control of them all at once, you can only have one power at a time. Let’s say you’re using the smoke power but you want to switch to neon. In order to do that you have to find a power source that offers you that power. Once you find it and drain it, you trade the ability to do smoke for neon. It’s a nice change and I actually prefer it over the previous power system. It makes you think about what power you want to go into battle with, or what power you want to use to traverse Seattle. Sorry newcomers, but no buildings or cars can be entered or used. Did I mention that Delsin can’t swim? Nothing felt more dull then when you were in a heated battle and fell into the water. You would have to press a button to warp yourself back to land, but doing so just broke up the immersion and made me feel like less of a badass.

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Seattle is littered with DUP stations and radar jammers. You won’t be able to see any blast shards on the radar until you clear that area of the main DUP power source. Radar Jammers blot out a section of the radar, but they are easily taken down with your powers. The PS4’s touchpad is a welcomed feature to the series. It’s used in the game to drain energy from power sources and to do various actions throughout Seattle like opening doors and pulling levers. For what it’s worth, Infamous: Second Son offers great gameplay and a fun experience even if the core gameplay itself is unchanged from previous installments. Infamous fans and newcomers alike will enjoy what Second Son has to offer.

Sound

Everything from the soundtrack to the voice acting is top notch. This is an area that I think Sucker Punch really needed to improve on with the Infamous series and I think they delivered. Players who use headphones are in for treat, especially those with the official Gold Stereo Headphones from Sony. Troy Baker does an outstanding job as Delsin. He has wonderful chemistry with his friend Travis Willingham(Reggie), and it shows in the way they talk throughout the game. Being a big fan of Seattle, I was hoping to hear a little bit more grunge music. It’s not a knock in any way, but it would have been pretty awesome if it found its way into the game. I guess I should be happy that a Heart-Shaped Box cover found it’s way into the credits, even if it isn’t the original from Nirvana.  Overall, Second Son sounds glorious. This is an area that I think Sucker Punch really nailed.

Lasting Appeal

Infamous: Second Son isn’t a massive game in terms of size. It isn’t packed with a ton of great side missions. What it does offer though is a story that you will want to play through more than once just so you can see every choice played out. Wiping out every region in Seattle of DUP scum will take some time, and collecting all blast shards and doing all graffiti spots will give you a few extra hours of gameplay as well as some shiny trophies to go to your collection.

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I managed to beat the game three times, do a 100% completion playthrough, and earn all trophies within a five day span. Those five days included me going to work and going out with friends and family. I would love to say that this game will last you for a long time but I would be lying to myself. The average gamer will probably finish the main story in about 6-8 hours. When you throw in the collectibles, you’re looking at anywhere from 10-14 hours. The game has replay value, but it’s mainly due to the fact that you will want to see both sides of the game played out. Once with good karma, and another with evil.

Final Verdict

Infamous: Second Son is the best Infamous title to date. It blows the previous games away in pretty much every single category. A short main story and a lack of side missions really damper the replay value, but don’t let that scare you away. Second Son is a step in the right direction for Sucker Punch and it’s a must-play for PS4 owners.

8.8 / 10

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2 thoughts on “Infamous: Second Son Review”

  1. I finished it in 2 days. I didn’t do EVERYTHING there was to do. I’m doing that right now. I loved it though. I’m definitely gonna play again and see what’s on the other side of the coin so to speak. 😛

    1. That’s awesome. I loved the game as well. As soon as I beat it the first time I literally went and started a new game without hesitation. It’s definitely great to see both sides of the coin. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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