The Second Son Was More Infamous Than The First
As most of you know, I’m a big fan of the original Infamous game for the Playstation 3. Sucker Punch gave super heroic gaming a much needed shot in the arm and created a runaway hit in the process. It wasn’t without its flaws, but apart from relay missions, the game was a ton of fun and promised more fun in the possibilities of sequels. While I wasn’t a fan enough of the second installment to finish the game through to completion, it didn’t stop me from bringing out my hard earned duckets to buy the third installation, Infamous: Second Son.
After the events of the first two games and the spread of Conduits through the flock of humanity, a new force has risen to power in North America: The Department of Unified Protection (or the D.U.P. for short). The D.U.P. has made it their goal to capture or kill all conduits, which they now call bio-terrorists, so as to prevent events such as those in Empire City or New Marais. It’s headed up and staffed by Conduits themselves as it takes fire to fight fire, and being the guy who locks up your own kind is arguably better than being the guy who gets locked up when looked at from a certain perspective – morals aside.
The D.U.P. has a prisoner transport going through Akomish tribal territory when things go completely bad and a conduit on board the convoy, Hank, makes a break for it. Hank encounters Delsin Rowe, a bystander to the convoy crash who comes to the aid of the people in the convoy and inadvertently absorbs Hank’s power by touch. Soon, after Hank’s escape and barely managing to wrangle his conduit abilities finds himself on the radar of the Convoy’s leader, Brooke Augustine. It is quickly sussed out that Delsin somehow ‘stole’ Hank’s powers and begins torturing his tribe for information, inserting concrete shards in his tribal fellows.
Like bad guys often do, she makes the mistake of not killing Delsin on the spot, mostly because angry tribal citizens take it very unkindly when outsiders come in and start torturing people and she is somehow driven off. Delsin and his cop brother, Reggie are left to pick up the pieces and try to save their tribe – because the only way those shards are coming out of his people is the way they came in. Delsin makes it his goal to absorb Augustine’s powers to safely remove the horrific, life-threatening shards from his people.
And that means taking the fight to the D.U.P. in Seattle. How you do it, good cop or bad cop, is up to you, and the game allows you different power sets based on how heroic or how infamous you’re willing to get.
It’s very similar in game play to the titles that came before it, so it’s not necessary to go too far into detail here (jumping, climbing, shooting bolts of power from your hands while finding hidden stuff and completing side-missions in an open-world). The big difference is that where Cole McGrath had one power, Delsin is in a position to gain four in total, each with its own unique abilities. He begins with smoke powers that allow him to travel through certain obstacles and to spiral into the air off smoke stacks. Then he gains Neon powers that let him run up walls and easily restrain opponents. A third power set took a little bit to grow on me, but are referred to as Video powers which grant greater flight, burst power bolts, and invisibility. There’s a final one as well, but I’ll stay away from that one for now.
Oh man, there’s a lot of good here, and most of it can be attributed to the beast that is the Playstation 4’s hardware. I am blown away by the quality of the game’s look and feel. They paid attention not just to the unique look and feel of the game’s powers, but also to minute details like quality of light and structures. Everything is as detailed and as real as I’ve seen, even by Quantic Dream standard. The folks at Sucker Punch did a top notch job in making D.U.P. Seattle look as authentic as possible.
Additionally, Sucker Punch did some really nice work with switching between power sets. I was half expecting some clunky, menu-based crapfest in which it would be difficult to toggle power sets. I was surprised by their approach – simply go to the power source you need and drain it. That’s it. You can’t switch between powers on the fly, but if you’re hurting after approaching a problem with Neon powers there’s bound to be smoking wreckage nearby. So why not just suck up the smoke powers for a little health and a couple missiles to boot? It leads to solving problems in a way that is fluid as well. There are plenty of points in the game where you can just say to yourself, ‘there’s another power source – let’s try a different way.’
I’m also a fan of the side quests they planted in the various zones as well. They can be a little repetitious, but they’re largely fun and involve zero relay challenges. Particularly fun are the secret agent missions. They’re really, really difficult toward the beginning, but as you pick up new tricks and travel powers improve, you’ll find yourself collaring snitches in no time. Additionally, Throwdown Challenges for each zone are a ton of fun. The first time you see a helicopter come out to fight you, you really feel that ‘they’ve upped the ante’ feeling.
Lastly, the controls are just about perfect now. In the original title there were moments where Cole just got caught up on everything. If it was grippy, he went for it – even if running away was damned imperative. Delsin’s experience is a lot less so. Getting around Seattle is a lot easier with the control refinements.
Speaking of getting around, the powers that let you travel make for less running through a city and getting shot at random factors. If you do enough throwdown missions, you’ll eventually get a fast travel network as well which sometimes makes for better use of time than being forced to navigate rooftops and alleys.
The playthrough I had as a hero showed me mostly great material on the game, but there were a couple of nitpicky things that happened.
The first is the obvious one you may have heard already. The game is short. I played this game while getting over a head cold on a long weekend. And I managed to beat it in only three days. When I say ‘I beat it’ I don’t mean I rushed. I shoved the game’s nose in the dirt and owned it. I completed every side mission that was listed in each district and did a fair to middling job of cleaning up Seattle’s drug trade to boot (i.e. shooting the crap out of drug dealers every time I saw them). Luckily, there’s replay value if you choose to go back and be a dick about things.
Second, was that while they are infrequent, there are the occasional bugs. The first one I saw was in a parking lot mission in which a car had detonated then just continued to spin in mid air. nothing quite like the utter lack of physics to bring you out of the experience of a game as immersive as Second Son is. Additionally, the second major bug I found was on a secret agent mission. I found the guy, and then, his character graphic just skipped up about ten feet vertically and rapidly replaced itself somewhere else. Now, secret agents are teleporters naturally, but they move at a predictable rate of speed and do flashy stuff while they escape. This was like picking up a Sim by the scruff of it’s neck and sending it away very quickly. This didn’t just cause an inconvenience – it broke the mission. I had to come back to it after a restart to get it going again. I can’t be sure of how many other bugs are in there – but that last one is a significant one.
Also, if you’re looking for the free side quest for the Paper Conduit, you can start it – but launch week has the servers bogged down badly, so good luck getting to that content. fortunately, it should be available soon enough once launch window is past.
The Sum Up
You should buy this game. It’s awesome. I can’t really make a better recommendation. I’ve been waiting for a game that really spoke to me on the PS4 platform, and this one was the one to do the trick. It’s well built, it’s fun to play, has some innovative gameplay twists, and it seems to make full and impressive use of the hardware the PS4 brings to the table.
Final Verdict: 5/5
Available on: Playstation 4 (reviewed) ; Developer: Sucker Punch Productions; Publisher; Sony Computer Entertainment; Released: March, 21st 2014; MSRP: $59.99
This review is based on a retail copy of InFamous: Second Son purchased by Hey Poor Player.