PS4 Game Review: inFamous Second Son

Behold, I’ve finally written a review for a PS4 game since buying it in November! Heh, yeah …

I loved inFamous on the PS3. It was one of the games that I knew I wanted upon buying the console, and seeing Second Son at E3 was one of the reasons I bought my PS4. In case you don’t feel like reading my whole review- it’s great. inFamous gave us a great taste of what it felt like to, well, have freakin’ awesome lightning superpowers, and mad parkour skill to boot. inFamous 2 refined those freakin’ awesome lightning powers to make them even more freakin’ awesome, and Second Son is even more … well, you get the point.

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Gameplay: Sony and Sucker Punch were very smart about the way they advertised Second Son. In all the trailers I saw, it looked like Second Son would be a single-superpower affair, like its predecessors. Well, (spoiler alert …?) it’s not, and it’s made all the more awesome because of it. Delsin Rowe, the game’s protagonist, has a whole slew of awesome abilities at his disposal, in addition to having the world’s dumbest name. Not only will you have access to the expected Smoke abilities, you’ll also gain access to Neon, Video, and finally Concrete powers as you play through, and beat, the game. All four of these elements sound weird on paper, quite frankly, but as I unlocked more and more neat abilities I was constantly impressed by the way these powers were implemented. I will make the complaint, however, that there aren’t nearly enough sources to draw power from, contrasting from the ever-present light, car, or generator in the previous two games.

That said, that’s only a minor blemish on what is an otherwise fantastic game. Having now played a few PS4 games, I can say wholeheartedly that the DualShock 4 is a great controller. Not only do the analog sticks, handles, touch pad, and triggers (which are finally, y’know, triggers) feel great, Second Son makes great use of the added control provided by both the triggers and the touchpad. While in ACIV (which is the only other big PS4 game I’ve played) the touchpad was almost entirely an optional button and wasn’t really that useful, Second Son implements it in clever ways that are interesting enough to feel cool and new, but also intuitive enough to not feel like a gimmick. The various tasks it completes in-game are present enough to make it feel like a control in its own right, but not so much that they seem to only be there to show off the new controller function. I don’t know why, but I was just really impressed by this.

Otherwise, Second Son is fairly normal inFamous fare. The open world of Seattle is chock full of new upgrades to find, sidequests to complete, and port-a-johns to destroy, and makes for an excellent backdrop. Though the karma system is fairly contrived, and admittedly is probably the worst in the series (it feels like it was tacked on only because it’s an inFamous game), there are really neat ways to experiment with the powers granted by both the good and evil sides of the spectrum. And while the climbing is surprisingly unpolished and, in some places, downright bad, each elemental ability increases your mobility exponentially, be it by zipping through ventilation shafts with Smoke, running straight up walls with Neon, satellite dish-hopping with Video, or creating a … tornado … of flying rocks with Concrete. That last one doesn’t make a ton of sense, but who cares? It’s awesome, anyway!

The huge map is accompanied by plenty of side missions to do and DUP structures to destroy, and the city of Seattle really feels alive- it’s probably one of the most well-realized open worlds I’ve seen to date. There’s a lot of area to explore, both horizontally and vertically, and pretty much everywhere you look there’s something cool to do. My main complaint here is that you can’t climb the Space Needle. Come on, you’re making an open-world, parkour-based game in Seattle, and you don’t even give us the ability to climb the Space Needle? Unforgivable. Apart from that, however, Second Son is just an astoundingly fun game to play. 90.

Story: I was pleasantly surprised by the characterization in Second Son. In the original two games, the characters were either so annoying that you wanted to punch them in the face (Zeke, Trish … basically everyone …) or so grumpy that you wanted to punch them in the face (Cole. Just … just Cole), in Second Son most, if not all of the characters are likeable or relatable. However, there are two that stand out as simply existing as plot devices who are hardly seen again after you’ve made your use of them. That said, the main character Delsin is much more likeable than his predecessor, owed in no small part to Troy Baker’s once again fantastic voice acting. His story is one we’ll actually care about, and while the karmic interactions with it are a bit arbitrary, they still make an impact on what kind of guy our Delsin is. The antagonist is legitimately hateable, though at the same time understandable in her motives. Overall, much better than the original, though it still feels tacked on in order to explain the fact that you get BADASS SUPER POWERZZZ. 80.

Video: Yeah. The PS4 is a wildly capable system, and Second Son definitely shows that off. There are little to no framerate or stuttering issues, and the game just looks gorgeous. The character models and power effects are especially notable as being lifelike and realistic (well, as realistic as shooting pixelated swords out of your face can be). Just really nice looking stuff. 95.

Audio: As I mentioned before, the voice acting in Second Son is spectacular. The aforementioned Troy Baker is a standout performance, but equally good is Travis Willingham (recent Sonic games, Fullmetal Alchemist) as his brother. The two have great chemistry as actors and their conversations are some of the highlights of the game. The music is neither here nor there, but the sound effects are good enough not to distract. 85.

Overall: inFamous Second Son is a really, really fun game with a lot to do and a gorgeous, massive world. That’s really all you need to know. If you’ve got a PS4, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing it. That’s all there is to it. 88%

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