Upon receiving inFamous: Second Son I was worried: super power based video games either go extremely well or just horribly wrong. Take the previous inFamous titles; both gems in the open world super powered genre, then feast your eyes on every single Superman game ever made, it’s not pretty right? So when you unleash godly powers in an open world video game set at present date it has to be firstly, believable with a strong story line and secondly, it has to present a challenge. Sure I can blast smoke out of my finger tips and seemingly obliterate anyone, but what fun is that if there is no challenge or difficulty to it? More importantly as a superhero or super villain what will my actions mean to the world surrounding me? Well, when unveiling the PlayStation 4 last year, Second Son director Nate Fox elaborated on his political standing speaking of how he was tear gassed in the 1999 anti-globalization riot and how he had attacked the police himself. He even touched on mass surveillance in the modern day and finished off by saying “Our security comes at a high price: our freedom.” The prominence of his past and current thought process is so prominent in inFamous: Second Son that it practically builds the world of inFamous and answers the previous worries I had. inFamous: Second Son captures a realistic world of bio-terrorist (people with powers) segregation, governmental oppression and unrest, with a pending revolution in the hands of a reckless youth based on the choices you make.
Second Son occurs after inFamous 2. Cole McGrath is gone, replaced by Delsin Rowe voiced by Troy Baker, who presents us with a strong personality. Residing in a small tribe-like community on the outskirts of Seattle, the game commences with Delsin causing his usual mayhem wherever he can. After a brief period you finally encounter the D.U.P. The D.U.P. is the Department of Unified Protection tasked with the operation of capturing conduits aka bio-terrorists. They occupy central Seattle forcing it into a marshall law state while also feeding the public propaganda to rise against conduits, all of which is done in a mass surveillance situation. Deslin’s small town personality makes him the outcast, alien to the oppression at hand thereby giving him a good reason to continue his rebellious nature but on a larger scale. Delsin is accompanied by his older brother who is oddly enough a cop, who regularly attempts to salvage Delsin’s responsibility as a person and as a citizen with powers. Stuck in his old ways, his brother often refers to him as a bio-terrorist rather than a conduit (bio-terrorist sympathizer) as he reflects the feelings of the public; as Delsin’s wording and impressions change you will notice the public of Seattle alter in the same way.
As for Delsin himself, he is actually a gifted individual capable of adsorbing other conduits powers. During the beginning of the story, you will learn that the rest of Delsin’s small town community called the Akomish tribe were injured by Brooke Augustine’s cement daggers (D.U.P Director, possesses powers in the form of concrete) and, unless they can remove them themselves or convince her to remove the cement daggers, they’ll all die. Realizing from his encounter with a previous conduit, a recently escaped a bio-terrorist prison who managed to break free after after the bus transporting him crashed, that he can absorb others powers, Delsin convinces his brother to take him into Seattle. His quest: to to absorb her powers, undoing what she did and removing the daggers. Once in Seattle, Delsin soon learns that the D.U.P. have basically taken over the city and their forces are bolstered by super soldiers who have Augustine’s concrete powers at a smaller scale but who are also well trained and equipped with state of the art weaponry. He then sets out on taking down the D.U.P while seeking out Brooke Augustine and, without realizing, Delsin basically commences a revolution with the goal of conduits and normal people living side-by-side.
Whilst playing the game you are offered two routes: evil and good, both of which are determined by your actions in missions and also by how you handle the D.U.P and the public. Executions and corruption lead you down the evil path with five different stages, equally subduing enemies and being wary of collateral damage will lead you down the good path with again five different stages. Each have their own attributes; good allows you to be more precise with your enemies, be cheered in the streets by fans and your powers will be more effective whilst being a strict conduit. Evil however, offers an entirely different play style where you are given powers of pure destruction, you are feared by the people and are no longer wary of collateral damage allowing you to unleash your strongest of powers. The powers themselves all are rich and offer different playing styles. There is Neon, Smoke, Video and Concrete, which all give you a strong array of abilities and different ways to travel around the map. My personal favorite was Neon, which allowed me to effortlessly glide through the city being cheered on by fans and feeling like a total badass.
The Gameplay & City
One thing that Sucker Punch achieved immensely well in the open world itself is Seattle, which is bright, vibrant and reacts accordingly to the paths you choose. Needless to say graphically the game is fantastic from the smallest puddle in the street to the neon powers flowing through your veins, it wasn’t long till I was astonished by the pure graphical power running Second Son. The city is detailed to the smallest grains of dust; there will never be a time in the game where there isn’t something outstanding in graphical fidelity to look at. This sense of Seattle in all its beauty is amplified when chaos is let loose, D.U.P structures being obliterated and multi-powered fire fights really showing the game in all its glory. It is a rarity for graphical stutters to occur, only happening when things really get out of hand and even then you still have to admire the sheer effort put into the system. Even now with the game completed twice over, I still enjoy gliding through Seattle relieving each sector of the D.U.P menace and destroying their eye-saw structures. The game even takes advantage of your Dualshock 4 to create Banksy-like stencil arts across the city by utilizing your touch pad and rotation control in the pad.
Second Son really encompasses what an oppressed city would look like with injured civilians scattered across the city. CCTV cameras, undercover agents, D.U.P drones, D.U.P watchtowers, D.U.P APC’s and main bases are in each sector, all of which can be vanquished in order to reduce the control of the D.U.P’s in the area. Once lowered to a specific amount you can also initiate a stand off to fully remove the D.U.P from the area and create a safe-heaven to fast travel too. This offers great reasoning to continue playing the game after completion and left me often sprawling through sectors to destroy what was left of the D.U.P establishment. This environment really adds to that rebellious sense, moreover the design of it also allows you to speed through the city with strong elements of parkour to enabling you to enjoy your surroundings. Often when movement is limited it dulls the game rapidly especially in the super-hero genre so the freedom of Second Son is something to be appreciated.
At the start of the review I mentioned that I needed a challenge to really enjoy an open world game of this type, yet again Second Son exceeds expectations. Not only did the D.U.P enemy offer me a hard challenge to fight it also for the first time in a super-hero game, made me introduce tactical play, altering my play style in order to defeat the challenges that confronted me. I enjoyed having a challenge to battle, the going getting really tough when the high-end super soldiers were introduced, who ended my life repeatedly. Sucker Punch have limited your abilities to always be slightly below that of your enemy, forcing you to mix up your play to be the most effective.
inFamous: Second Son is a great game, the world offering diversity and a story that is as gripping as it is challenging. My only problem with inFamous was just how little there was of it, the game ended quickly and I got rid of the D.U.P menace within 8 hours excluding side missions and neutralizing sectors. The campaign although great easily could have been fleshed out more, perhaps rather than just going straight for the director maybe we could have went up a blacklist, taking out D.U.P personnel one by one gaining more powers as we went… but hey that’s not my decision. I had great fun with Second Son and more specifically Deslin Rowe, who offered a fresh perspective and personality to the inFamous story line. The future is bright for the franchise and this is yet again another gem to add to it. If you need a good story to fight through or your tired of the game drought, look no further than inFamous: Second Son.