inFAMOUS Second Son
- Release Date: March 21, 2014
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Developer: Sucker Punch Production
- Genre: Action/adventure
- Platform: PlayStation 4
Taking place in Seattle, Washington (United States), inFAMOUS Second Son follows a character named Delsin Rowe, the game’s main protagonist. Delsin is a member of the Akomish Native American tribe as well as a graffiti artist and well known delinquent. He has a rebellious nature and a knack for getting himself into trouble with his older brother Reggie Rowe, a police officer. Second Son takes place seven years after the events that transpired during inFAMOUS 2. Following the events of New Marais, the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.) was formed to hunt down and capture the remaining Conduits (people with the ability to manipulate and control elemental or synthetic matter) in order to eliminate any threats and avoid another major incident.
Early in the game Delsin learns that he is a Conduit after touching an escaped convict from a D.U.P. Conduit transfer vehicle, gaining his ability to manipulate and control smoke. He later learns that his Conduit power actually allows him to absorb the powers of other Conduits. This means that Delsin has the ability to control an endless amount of differing powers absorbed from any and all Conduits he comes in contact with. Frightened and confused by the realization that he one of the “bio-terrorists” that society is afraid of, Delsin follows the other Conduit seeking answers and help as they both head towards the Akomish tribe. Soon after the two reach the tribe, the D.U.P. arrives to capture the convict and question Delsin.
After capturing the convict the D.U.P. leader, Brooke Augustine, turns her attention as well as her own Conduit powers towards Delsin and his tribe – mortally wounding and/or killing nearly every Akomish tribe member in an attempt to get answers out of them in regards to Delsin’s Conduitism. Delsin is unconscious for a week after the attack and upon awakening learns that the D.U.P. has declared martial law in Seattle, taking control of the city and it’s citizens in an attempt to find other escaped Conduits. Delsin and his brother Reggie decide to team up to head into the city, taking their fight right to Augustine’s front door in order to save their friends, family and society as a whole from her evil grip.
Second Son features some brilliant characters who are introduced throughout the game such as Fetch and Eugene (both Conduits) as well as Delsin and Reggie Rowe themselves. This further highlights Sucker Punch’s knack for creating fun, realized characters for the inFAMOUS series. The game’s narrative can feel a bit underwhelming especially when compared to previous games in the series, though I generally found it to be well done. Some aspects feel noticeably under-developed and the story missions are occasionally lackluster, but the game itself is still rather entertaining as a whole. When paired with gameplay and the overall experience of the game whatever the narrative may be lacking is hardly an issue.
inFAMOUS Second Son is played in the third person perspective with an action-adventure/shooter gameplay style. Delsin acquires various powers to be used separately throughout the game though each has the same basic abilities. Each of the powers acquired in the game works differently and has it’s own unique aesthetics based on the specific power you are using. This creates some really fun diversity among the powers and the skills as each looks unique yet has the same core style, making the gameplay simple yet not at all boring. Second Son trades a wide variety of different abilities for a variety of actual power types, allowing for an equally diverse gameplay style that simply has a different method of being diverse. A notable example of this can be found in the specialty attack ability. There is only one for each power but each one looks and works differently depending on which power is in use.
Upgrading Delsin’s abilities required blast shards which can be found around the city. The shards may be found throughout the city on flying machines (which are occasionally stationary on top of buildings and the like) as well as inside D.U.P. hand scanners and mobile command centers. Each ability upgrade will require a certain amount of shards and as the game progresses they will require the player to reach a certain karma levels before allowing them to continue upgrading the ability. There are a handful of abilities that are only accessible based on which karmic side you choose, so some are only available to evil karma players and others are only available to good karma players. Each of these karma-specific abilities is different, so playing through the game at least twice, choosing opposing karmic allegiances, will offer up not only a different mindset and overall feeling in regards to the story line but you will also gain different powers which make the gameplay unique to each karmic side.
The karma choices come into play throughout the game in various ways, not just by unlocking abilities but also by giving the game it’s shape and direction. There are obviously various major karmic choices made throughout the game that shape the narrative, but you can also earn individual karma points through doing good or evil deeds respectively as random instances occur throughout the city. For example, if you want to earn some more evil karma in order to level up and earn new unlockable abilities you can kill sign flippers or musicians on the street as well as silence protesters or kill police officers. On the flip-side you can earn good karma by busting drug dealers, healing hurt citizens, saving bullied Conduits and releasing imprisoned Conduit suspects. The karma system is in-depth and truly shapes the game for Delsin and those around as well as for you the player in regards to your overall experience.
Delsin has the ability to climb on and scale the environment in an open-world type map. This makes it easier for players to choose to go through the narrative, complete side missions or simply run around the city for the fun of it at their leisure. While the game’s main story line is about 10 hours long, Second Son can be lengthened by four to five hours if you choose to do the side missions. The side missions help you to gain a better awareness of your surroundings as well as provide plenty of entertainment. Among these are the stencil art missions which allow you to spray paint designs on walls around the city and the district showdown missions that provide you with a small battle against the D.U.P. for control of each individual district in Seattle. Each side mission you complete lowers the D.U.P. control of an area and once all are completed the area will be mostly danger free, belonging to the people of Seattle instead of the oppressive enemy forces.
Second Son features brilliant graphical design which highlights large and small details alike with brilliant clarity. The city of Seattle looks absolutely marvelous from the wear and tear of each individual building to the reflections of the city in the rain puddles on the ground. The motion capture work done for each character is stunning, facial expressions and body movements/language are more realistic than ever before thanks to the talented development team and the PlayStation 4’s capabilities. All of the detail put into the city and it’s inhabitants are breath-taking, to say the least. The game is polished, primed and ready to be eye candy for any gamer who appreciates a good looking game.
The writing team did a great job with the game’s dialog and story line as a whole. Each major character is a true individual with emotion and personality; even the random people roaming the streets are unique, each one exhibiting differing behaviors and reactions to what is going on in the vicinity. The voice acting cast did this game justice and do not fail to keep their respective characters interesting and dynamic. Troy Baker has yet again done a marvelous job at voicing a game’s main character. Delsin’s rebellious, cocky nature is brought to life through Baker’s talented voice work. Characters such as Fetch (voiced by Laura Bailey), Brooke Augustine (voiced by Christine Dunford) and Reggie (voiced by Travis Willingham) were all done extremely well, too. Second Son also features a rather notable and brilliant soundtrack with rock elements that gives the game a lot of substance in addition to the writing and the voice work.
Sucker Punch was able to involve the Dualshock 4 controller in many new and innovative ways in Second Son. The touch pad is used throughout the game to open doors, lift objects, collect items, absorb energy/powers and more. There are also various noises made through the controller’s speaker for added effect and during the stencil art missions players actually hold the controller on its side, shake it like a spray paint can, and use R2 to spray paint the walls. I found the ability to hold and use the controller like a spray paint can in particular to be such a fantastic way to connect the player to the mission in a fun and innovative way. These were all really great ways of implementing the Dualshock 4’s new abilities and features.
All in all, I really loved this game. I found it to have very few, if any, flaws which made for a very smooth, streamlined experience overall. I ended up spending a lot of my time exploring the city and completing side missions which was very enjoyable. I did not want to the game to end, it had me so hooked into the story and connected to the characters that I wanted it to keep on chugging along. I’m currently working though my second playthrough and still haven’t had a single boring moment befall me. I would definitely recommend inFAMOUS Second Son to anyone with a PlayStation 4 regardless of whether or not you have played the past games in the inFAMOUS series. It’s great fun and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.