Review: InFAMOUS: Second Son

IF Story
InFamous: Second Son tells the story of Delsin Rowe, a 24 year old native of the Akomish tribe located outside of Seattle, Washington. Set seven years after the events of InFamous 2, the world has been exposed and made aware of the potential threat of conduits. Now labelled as Bio-terrorists, a government funded operation known as the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P) is enforcing the control and suppression of conduits.

When a bus transporting a few conduits crashes, Delsin and his brother Reggie do what they can to help those trapped in the wreckage. During the rescue, as Delsin pulls a man from the vehicle he discovers that he is a conduit and is capable of absorbing other conduit’s powers.

The crash provides an opportunity for some of the conduits to escape and gain their freedom. Following the crash the D.U.P arrive to contain the situation and concluding a failed interrogation of a powered up Delsin, D.U.P head Augustine mortally injures members of the Akomish tribe attempting to extract the information she desires. This drives Delsin and Reggie to head to D.U.P temporary headquarters in Seattle to set things straight.

IF Presentation
Instantly, my jaw dropped with this game’s ravishing beauty and it’s eccentric and captivating colours. Everything about Second Son has been aesthetically scrutinised to give the best visual display possible. Sucker Punch have truly captured the powerful capabilities of the PS4. From the incredibly detailed particle system used for your powers, to the magical water reflections throughout a damp, drizzly Seattle, your eyes are always pleased and not once strained. It is truly amazing to see a beautifully detailed, fully realised urban street corner become a completely destroyed battle zone following your scuffle with the D.U.P. Smoke circles swarm around Delsin’s arm with a fluidity and sense of realism not seen before; it really is a credit to the developers for creating this level of artistry.

Sucker Punch have used a mixture of motion capture and face detail recognition techniques to integrate into the respective characters and it works flawlessly. Troy Baker does a fantastic job portraying Delsin Rowe, your typical 24 year old, not quite sure what he wants to do with his life but doesn’t seem to like taking advice. He has been a bit of a delinquent with minor infringements such as street graffiti and the like. Overall, Baker has given a breath of intriguing life into Delsin, producing an engaging, relateable and wittingly humorous character. The relationships delivered between characters is a massive strong point for Second Son. The sibling relationship between Delsin and his brother Reggie is hands down one of the strongests have seen in gaming. They don’t always see eye to eye, (what relationship does?) but without a doubt, no matter what, they will always be there for each other and the resulting developments in the relationship is what cements the power of these brothers.

A tense and emotive soundtrack accompanies your playthrough that attaches itself to you and heightens the experience of every situation you find yourself in; whether it be in the midst of battle, traversing and scaling the city or simply just strolling the streets absorbing the delightful realisation of Seattle that Sucker Punch has produced. On the note of Seattle, Sucker Punch, being based in the city, have taken it upon themselves to incorporate familiar landmarks associated throughout the real life Seattle; such as the Space Needle, the Sky Train or even a Pink Elephant Car Wash. It is a great idea to incorporate these locations but unfortunately, I feel the opportunity may be wasted on those unfamiliar with the Seattle landscape. But nevertheless, adding the unique locals certainly does create and add to the individuality of the city.

IF Gameplay
The first thing I noticed about Second Son was just how tight and responsive the controls were; particularly from the two thumb sticks and the R2 button, which is where most of the action will happen. The Dual shock’s R2 is outstanding at presenting an accurate feeling trigger which compliments your preferred gaming style. Acting as your fire trigger, it can produce as many projectiles as fast as your finger can pump the button.

As I mentioned earlier, Delsin has been a convicted delinquent for graffiti art. Sucker Punch pounced on the idea of incorporating this into the Dualshock4; Rotating the controller vertically, giving it a shake up and spraying away to deliver some wonderful street art. All the while your inbuilt controller speaker is producing its own spray noises and the light bar even adapts to what colour your currently spraying. Creating the art is just another unique feature adding to the already beautiful and unique Seattle.

Absorbing power fuels from the environment takes an interesting and extremely connected twist. Simply tapping the touch pad when notified absorbs your fuel (this is where the particle system flourishes) and initiates the absorption with your TV producing a high volume sponging noise only to be slowly faded out into your controller’s speaker, connecting the power to the gamer. The touch pad also uses swipes for actions such as opening doors, which adds to the connection between player and game.

I feel I have covered the more ‘gimmick’ aspects, now I would like to tackle the foundations of Second Son’s gameplay. Infamous at its heart is a series designed to be based on choice. choosing the path of righteousness or the path of pure evil is simply up to you. The prior games of the series offered the same formula, but the choices they offered have always been black and white. It’s painstakingly obvious what path you are travelling down. I was hoping Second Son, being a ‘ ‘Next Generation’ title would take this formula and improve upon it, but unfortunately, I felt that the moral choices were as bland as ever without adding any form of conflict or morally grey areas. Once I had dedicated myself to a path I never truly felt compelled to deter from it.

The opportunity for expanding your power set was probably one of the main sale points for fans of the series and newcomers alike and it does not disappoint. Offering a much broader and diverse scope than previous games, it was a sheer thrill to experience the powers and abilities made available. The progression system in your powers appears again offering perks and exclusives for your selected karmatic play through. Through the collection of Blast Shards you can opt to focus your upgrades on one specific set of powers or expand your arsenal across the variety of abilities at your disposal. Combining this feature and the previously mentioned dry moral choices does open up a world full of replayability in Second Son.

It is made apparent that Delsin is a more than capable parkour master, but at times, I felt the system wasn’t as strong as it has been. Missing grip-able ledges and slipping from structural steel. However, the parkour system becomes a minor feature relatively quick after traversal methods from your powers become a much faster system and so much more pleasing to view.

The accumulation of powers is transferred to Delsin through physical contact with other conduits and the introduction of these other conduits is more than intriguing opening up a world of curiosity. However, in saying that, after a captivating introduction they are rendered little more than side missions appearing in half a dozen of them at most. The relationship with Delsin and his brother Reggie is strong and well developed as I mentioned, but just skimming the surface of these other relationships and development feels like a waste and an obviously missed opportunity.

The game is just as incredibly looking when taking it to the Vita. Thankfully, Sucker Punch have really thought about reinventing the control scheme for the Vita. The game uses the corners of the front touch screen in order to use your missiles and bombs. It uses the centre of the touch screen in order to re power your abilities. I really felt that the game was a native Vita game when playing it.