For a while, I was worried about inFamous: Second Son – super power-based video games can go extremely well or extremely wrong, after all. Take the previous inFamous games: both gems in the open- world, super-powered genre, but then feast your eyes on every Superman game ever made. It’s not pretty, right? So when you unleash god-like powers in an open-world game set in present day, it has to be, above all, believable. Sure, I can blast smoke out of my finger tips and seemingly obliterate anyone, but what fun is that if there is no challenge to it? More importantly, as a superhero or super villain, what will my actions mean to the world around me?
When the PlayStation 4 was revealed last year, Second Son director Nate Fox spoke about how he was tear- gassed in the 1999 anti-globalization riot and how he had attacked the police himself, even touching on mass surveillance in the modern day. “Our security comes at a high price: our freedom,” he told us. This past and current-thought process is what undeniably drives inFamous: Second Son and answers any worries I had. inFamous: Second Son captures a realistic world of bio-terrorist (people with powers) segregation, governmental oppression, with a pending revolution in the hands of a reckless youth based on the choices you make.
Set after inFamous 2, Second Son replaces Eric Laden’s gravelly-voiced Cole McGrath with Troy Baker’s head-strong Delsin Rowe. Residing in a small Native-American reservation on the outskirts of Seattle, Delsin, an outcast and a rebel, enjoys causing mayhem wherever he can and soon on a larger scale thanks to his newfound powers. Elsewhere, the Department of Unified Protection (The D.U.P.) is tasked with rounding up bio-terrorists, a.k.a “conduits,” occupying central Seattle through mass surveillance and feeding the public propaganda against conduits under a state of marshal law. Delsin’s older brother, Reggie – a cop, oddly enough – shares the feelings of the public and attempts in vain to salvage his younger brother’s responsibilities as a person and a citizen. Delsin, however, has other ideas.
You learn that the rest of Delsin’s tribe, the Akomish, were injured by D.U.P. director Brooke Augustine’s own powers, and unless they can remove them themselves or convince her to remove them for them, they’ll all die. Delsin, meanwhile, can absorb other conduits’ powers, and so he convinces his brother to take him into Seattle, intent on absorbing her powers, undoing the damage and, without whether he likes it or not, igniting a battle between super powered and normal people that you ultimately decide.
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: people cheer for you in the streets and your powers are more precise in enemy encounters. Evil however, offers an entirely different play-style where you’re a force of pure destruction, feared by the public and no longer restrained by concerns of collateral damage, allowing you to unleash your strongest of powers.
The powers themselves all are rich and offer different playing styles. There’s 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.
One thing that Sucker Punch achieves incredibly well is Seattle itself. A bright, vibrant, and highly reactive city, the city’s detailed to the smallest grains of dust; there’ll never be a time in the game where there isn’t something outstanding in to stare at. From the smallest puddle in the streets to the pulsating neon flowing through your veins, it didn’t take long to make my jaw-drop from the sheer graphical power of Second Son. Better still, Seattle changes according to the paths you choose and you’ll notice the city’s decay or growth.
This beautiful imagining of Seattle is amplified when chaos is let loose – D.U.P structures are obliterated and multi-powered firefights really show off the game in all its graphical glory. It’s a rarity for graphical stutters to occur, and only when things really get out of hand. Even then, you still have to admire the sheer effort put into the game. Completing the game twice over, I still enjoy gliding through Seattle relieving each sector of the D.U.P menace and destroying their towers. The game even takes advantage of your Dualshock 4 to create Banksy-like stencil arts across the city by using the touch-pad and rotation-control.
Second Son faithfully – and startlingly – abides by its oppressive imagery. Injured civilians litter the city while CCTV cameras, undercover agents, drones, and D.U.P watchtowers, inhabit each sector, all of which can be destroyed to reduce the D.U.P’s control 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 a great reason to keep playing after beating the game and it left me often sprawling through sectors to destroy what was left of the D.U.P establishment.
The 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’s something to be appreciated.
I always need a challenge to really enjoy an open-world game like this, and again, Second Son exceeds expectations. Not only is it challenging, but for the first time in a superhero game, it introduces “tactical play,” altering your play-style to beat the challenges that confront you. I enjoyed having a challenge to master – the going got really tough when the D.U.P’s high-end super soldiers were introduced, who all ended my life repeatedly. Sucker Punch seems to have capped off your abilities to always be slightly below that of your enemy’s, forcing you to mix up your play-style to be that much more effective.
The only problem with it’s just how little there is of it. The game ends terribly fast, I beat the D.U.P in only, eight hours, excluding side missions and neutralizing sectors. Although great, the story could have easily could have been fleshed out more. Instead of 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.
Second Son‘s a genuinely great game – the world offers diversity and its campaign’s as gripping as it is challenging. I had a lot of fun with it and more specifically with Delsin, who offered a fresh perspective and personality to the inFamous story line. The future’s bright for the franchise and this is 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 Second Son.