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[Video Game Review] inFAMOUS: Second Son (2014)

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Game Summary: inFAMOUS: Second Son takes place seven (7) years after the events of inFAMOUS 2 and the adventures of Cole McGrath. Surrounded by a society that fears them, super humans known as Conduits, are feared and dubbed as “Bio-Terrorists.” They are ruthlessly hunted down and caged by the government sanctioned Department of Unified Protection. When protagonist Delsin Rowe discovers his powers he's forced to run, searching for other Conduits in order to save those he loves from the oppressive D.U.P. The actions he takes along the way will change the future of everyone around him. 

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Platform: PlayStation 4 (Exclusive)

Review: by Sam Fury aka The Superior Spider Sam

Oh man! Where to begin?! Let’s begin by saying I LOVE this series. The original inFAMOUS on PS3 was a gem that surprised many when it came out of nowhere and took the action adventure genre by storm- I personally played it four times. Then inFAMOUS 2 came out, and I played through it twice, completing 100% both times and even completing the ‘Festival of Blood DLC.” I read the (bad) comic that connected inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2, and, when Second Son was first shown at E3 2013, I lost my sh*t. But was the first true major release on Sony’s next-gen console worth it? Would it fulfill the super fan in me? Is the hype around the game warranted? Let’s find out (FYI, short answer is HELL YES!).

What I Didn’t Like:

Let’s do this first since it is far less in scope of what I did like.  The overarching problem I have with this game, which isn’t really a “problem,” is the story. If you have been paying attention to this, you may have heard people say that the story isn’t all that great, and, unfortunately, that is true. Now, the story is not BAD- it just is not good. The time bending, mind blowing, beast-fighting, best friend killing awesomeness of the first 2 games can’t be replicated, but it is as if developers Sucker Punch abandoned their method of storytelling all together. The comic geek in me may be showing, but the tone of this game is way more serious than I would have liked. It no longer feels like a comic book super hero (or anti- hero) game; it just feels like a run of the mill action adventure game. You do not need to even have played the first two games to understand this one. Normally, people would consider this good, but it feels like Sucker Punch all but abandoned what happened to Cole, the protagonist from the first game.

You now control this guy, named Delsin Rowe, who is 100% polarizing. Either you think he’s a cool rebel or a tantalizing Douche. As a conduit, he has abilities similar to Rogue of the X-men in that he can absorb the powers of other conduits.

Delsin Rowe is either most awesome douche ever or the douchiest awesome dude ever…or just a douche.

When his home is attacked by the the head of the D.U.P, Augustine (on a mission hunting other Conduits), his people are caught in the crossfire and are exposed to a disease that only Augustine’s abilities can heal. So Delsin is on a mission, along with his brother Reggie, to save the people of his village by powering up, hunting down Amanda, and taking her powers.

When it comes to Conduits, Augustine is never amused

So, again, this story is not bad. It certainly does it’s job well in progressing the narrative and getting Delsin from point A to point B. Honestly, this is a knit picky complaint from a super fan but it is my only one.

What I Liked:

This game is visually stunning.

This is the ONLY next gen game when it comes to visual presentation. Period. That goes for all current Xbox One Games and all current PS4 games. inFAMOUS: Second Son is BEAUTIFUL. It is the very first thing you will notice. From the lighting effects to the way the sun sets in the horizon to the particle effects – absorbing smoke never ceased to amaze me with how impressive it looked! The game features a bright palette of colors, of which I am a fan. Darker games, like Killzone 2 and Killzone 3, are nice to look at from a technical perspective, but Second Son is truly pretty. Trust me.  When you first unlock your ultimate attack while fighting atop the Seattle Space Needle, you will be in awe at how marvelous this game looks (assuming you aren’t blown away long before then like I was).

Lighting effects and environments will blow you away

Powers, Powers, and Powers (Oh My)

Okay, so one area in which this game REALLY excels is the Power you wield. In inFAMOUS 2 you were building to what developer Sucker Punch called a Super Super-Hero in order to combat the Beast. Sorry, Sucker Punch, but you missed on that one. THIS is a Super Super-Hero! Delsin can drain powers from any Conduit he touches, and that leads to some fun. Whereas in the first two games you protected (or wreaked havoc upon) Empire City and new Marais as the Electric man, In Second Son you do the same as the smoke blasting, neon sprinting, concrete throwing, video flying man!

This game could have been as pretty as it wanted to be but still would have sucked if it wasn’t fun. And this game is fun. It takes about half an hour to get set up with your first ability (Smoke) and get into the city of Seattle to begin your hunt for Augustine. Once you enter the city, you feel like it is one big playground. Smoking up buildings, literally flying with your video Powers, or running with Neon is all so much fun. In fact there were times I would turn on the PS4 and not play one mission but, instead, simply explore the city in the variety of ways offered. Not since Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 have I had so much fun running through a city.

Smoking up buildings, flying through the city with Video, and running with Neon is utter enjoyment

Fighting with these powers is equally rewarding. One major problem I have with this series, particularly inFAMOUS 2, is the way the game would seem to throw waves of enemies at you without regard.  This is not fixed here, but it is also not a deal breaker. For one, the enemies you fight are all different, and I mean truly different not like when the same of Beltram’s monsters would attack you every block in inFAMOUS 2. The D.U.P. has foot men, snipers, SWAT, and even Conduits of their own; and, obliterating each of them is a thrill. You can start off blasting them with your gatling- type gun in video mode, run over to a store front and absorb some Neon to get are more precise shot, then run up a room and absorb some Smoke all to come crashing down on the fools below with your ultimate attack. It is a thrill. What’s more is each power has its own leveling tree, meaning that as you gain XP you can choose to focus on Smoke to make your blasts stronger or go with Neon run unlimited super speed or upgrade Video to gain a longer flight time. Concrete you get later in the game, long after the first three, but it is no less fun. Clearing the streets on enemies is utter enjoyment.

Game Mechanics

Beautiful? Check. Fun? Check. But what about those oh so important other factors:- immersive-ness, replay ability, pacing? Glad to say it’s all here. Like I mentioned Earlier, the city of Seattle is great, and not just from visual perspective. There is much to do. As you are coasting through the city you can stop riots, destroy D.U.P. Property, perform drug busts, free captives, spray paint the area, or perform the hunt for blast shards (an infamous game staple).

These missions, along with side other side missions do vary with which morality path you choose. As always in the inFAMOUS franchise, you decide whether to be the hero the city needs or the menace the city fears. Do you allow peaceful protests, or do you silence the protesters? Do you simply capture drug dealers, or do you murder them? Do you choose to spray paint an item that instills hope or one that disgusts? When a D.U.P. soldier lays down his weapon in defeat, what do you do? Allow him to live or drain the life from him? That last one is a personal favorite of mine. Seeing a D.U.P. soldier drop his weapon and raise his hands after you destroy all his friends is priceless.

Which way will you choose to climb up the karma ladder?

As for actual gameplay, this may be the most refined game in the inFAMOUS franchise, as one would expect in a third game of a series (looking at you Arkham Origins). I cannot remember one missed action, one lag, one frame rate screw up, or anything of the sort in my 40 hours of play. This does not mean they aren’t there, it just means they are miniscule and will not ruin the experience at all. The controls are mapped in a way that makes good use of the controller. There are motion active segments, for example spray painting requires you to shake the controller (like a spray can) and aim the PS4 controller light bar at the console. Additionally fingerprint scans require you to use the touch pad on the PS4 controller. These segments were very well done in my opinion, and that’s coming from a guy who absolutely despises the whole motion thing we seem to be moving towards in current gaming. Another cool thing, though it’s small, is, whenever you absorb a power (Smoke, Neon, Video, or Concrete) or make a call, the sound effect (as Delsin absorbs or the ringtone) comes through the controller itself rather than your television/ monitor. This is all to say that the game’s immersive-ness is alive and well.

You can purchase this game on Amazon here: inFAMOUS: Second Son Limited Edition (PlayStation 4)

 

 

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