InFAMOUS: Second Son is an experience that I'm not likely to forget, in part thanks to the superb characterisation of Delsin Rowe, by the expert vocal talents of Troy Baker, who recently brought new life to Batman: Arkham Origins much beloved psychotic Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. The story is certainly a lot more immediate than the last couple of offerings, and Seattle is a good location to tell the tale of this cocky new Conduit.
The PS4 is quickly winning my heart too, as I became familiar with the game's controls over a short period of time. The game will be instantly recognisable to anyone who's played inFAMOUS titles in the past and the learning curve of the new powers is relatively low. Of course, getting the best out of any suite of powers requires some practise with the new abilities and some trial and error. Fortunately the game does a great job of leading you into how everything works, yes, the tutorial bits do break up the flow a little as they happen after you acquire a new power, but that's good and bad. I personally found it just fine and it was great to kick off a new ability right away, see how it worked and decide if it was something I was likely to come back to.
Let me make it plain though, as much as I love inFAMOUS: Second Son, it doesn't break much in the way of new ground. What it does do, is take the inFAMOUS formula and hone it to a greater degree than previous games, everything feels more rounded, less jagged and power use is a lot simpler to get to grips with. You're probably going to have a lot more fun (I know I did) gallivanting around Seattle as Delsin with his new traversal mechanics and powers later on.
An important thing to note: The game allows you to save anywhere, this is a superb feature that really makes it easy to dive back into.
Delsin is a lot better at zipping around the city than Cole. There's even some fast-travel points unlocked when you finally break the DUP (the game's bad guys) hold on a sector/area of the city.
So with all that in mind, let me take you into Seattle and the life of Delsin Rowe. You start with no powers, but pretty soon you'll run afoul of a Conduit and find out that Delsin has a life-changing ability of his own. He can steal powers from Conduits by touch, syphoning their ability and formulating it for his own use, once he's got access to a Power Core of course. Not long after grabbing Smoke from this new guy Delsin is embroiled against the main protagonist, a great character and brought to life by Christine Dunford.
Augustine is a well played, well presented and a well rounded villain with a complex set of motivations and goals that slowly unfurl as the game goes on. You'll probably love to hate her, which I found myself doing as the climax of the game approached and she's the perfect foil for Delsin. Augustine very quickly earns Delsin's ire and the young lad is off to Seattle to search her out, take her power and end her reign.
He's not an emo-kid who finds out he's got superpowers, can't wait to get rid of them, and mopes about. Nope, our Delsin is very quick to embrace this new way of life and guided by the hands of the player can turn into a hero (loved by the city, redeeming other Conduits) or a villain (hated by the city, corrupting those around him and doing bad things).
Delsin is often offered a moral choice at key points during the game, black and white (red and blue) choices that affect the way the whole thing plays out and his reputation as a figure of heroic legend or infamy. Delsin's new power suite is very limited to begin with, but soon the game's first few missions have you collecting Power Core Relays like they're candy and unlocking everything from smoke grenades (sulfurous clouds that cause enemies to choke) and an ultimate attack, I like these over the top flashy powers and they are usually a Smart Bomb that clears a whole area out.
The Smoke one is especially great, with cocky-smile Delsin arcing down to blast the bad guys with a massive explosion as he reforms after the blast.
When you're not on a mission, you're always interacting with the city in some way. There are people to help, drug busts to bust and chances to earn good or evil actions to send your Delsin into heroic legend or become infamous, as the title of the game suggests. In the power unlock screen there are powers that are locked-off and based on out and outright villainy, these powers are a ton of fun and are usually highly destructive since a villainous Delsin doesn't care about collateral damage.
The side activities are fun, but repetitious and there's not much in the way of life to Seattle even though it's packed with people. They are all cardboard cut-out NPCs that have little in the way of interaction save to praise Delsin or run screaming as he blasts them with fire laden death. Still, there's a lot of DUP to take out and a whole city to clean. It's likely you won't care about crafted NPCs when you're blasting through the sky as an avenging video-game angel or shooting upwards on a pillar of smoke through a vent.
You'll be finding logs, tracking drones to give you more shards to power your powers up, collecting karma (good or bad) and removing the DUP from an area by destroying their mobile HQ platforms. You'll also be finding hidden security cameras, chasing down shape-shifted spies and getting embroiled in all sorts of power battles against the enemy.
You'll also be tagging, graffiti is a big thing to Rowe and using the PS4's pad is a neat little addition. You'll tilt the pad like a spray can to prime it, you'll shake the pad, hearing the rattle come from the pad's internal speaker and then spray using the pad to track the motion on the screen. This motion control is very fine indeed and these were the most fun diversions of the lot for me.
Do enough damage to the DUP's control in an area, you'll get an area showdown, finish one of those and you'll be able to unlock that area as a new fast-travel point.
During gameplay the pad itself gets used in a few neat ways, with the touchpad used to drain smoke and so on, activate certain directional based actions and the internal speaker becomes a phone, a radio and more. These little tricks immerse you in the game really well.
Delsin gets several power suites as you progress through the game, from Smoke, to Neon, to Video. Each one brings a new set of powers, and a new way to travel. Neon is the best allowing you to run endlessly and fast, up and over buildings like a bright figure of multi-coloured starlight. Video gives you fuzzy angelic video angel wings and lets you experience flight in inFAMOUS, or as close as you'll ever get. There are some other surprises that I won't spoil.
It's the story that's the true star of the show and it's well crafted indeed, bringing you nicely along for the ride and shaping Delsin based on how you've chosen to play him in previous missions. You can exert a corruptive influence on any allies you might make, and of course, in certain cases you can kill a story character based on your infamous choice of course.
Graphically the game hasn't suffered once, the frame-rate is solid and the motion capture/lip synch/facial animation is some of the best I've seen on a game. The interactions between Delsin and the rest of the cast are rendered to the most impressive detail. This can be said about the game itself, with the whole design and aesthetic coming across as a strong next-gen title. The lighting effects alone for neon are amazing and the way Delsin draws in neon power, it's like he pulls that light into tiny little particles and they flow into him.
Stunning stuff really.
Sucker Punch really know their stuff and this is their strongest game yet, with end-game activities to purge the DUP there's plenty of scope to revisit Seattle and kick the DUP out once and for all. So you don't feel like you're shortchanged when the game ends and there's nothing to do, as has happened on other games like this in the past.
The soundtrack is likewise excellent, lots of good thumping beats and dynamic music. The sound work is spot on and the use of the internal speaker is an inspired choice that I hope many more games on the PS4 take advantage of.
So all in all, inFAMOUS: Second Son is a grand game and a good title to own on the PS4.
This review is based off a retail copy of the game, the reviewer wasn't sent a copy by Sony, but decided to write the review of this game regardless. It's just that good.
The previous video was captured with the PS4, and formatted using the new Sharefactory, part of the updates that were introduced with update 1.70 today.