After a huge dry spell of Playstation 4 exclusive titles, Infamous: Second Son finally dropped onto the console last week. Given that everyone thought the world of conduits, ray spheres, and awesome parkour was wrapped up with the first two titles on the PS3, Second Son has some big shoes to fill, and A LOT of explaining to do.
[Caution: spoilers for Infamous 2 mentioned]
Story: Don’t ask, because we don’t know either.
For those who haven’t played it, Infamous as a series was effectively finished up with the second game after main character Cole sacrificed himself to stop the Beast; effectively killing every super-powered conduit on the planet in the same swoop.
Which completely and utterly explains why Delsin appears in Second Son with smoke powers.
To be honest, the story of Second Son feels like a reboot of Infamous 2. Delsin is a snarky, misdemeanor-committing nobody who gets saddled with powers and a whole lot of responsibility when his tribe is infected with concrete splinters from conduit antagonist Augustine. Delsin vows to stop her, meets other misfit supers along the way, and either learns how to use his powers to overthrow evil or gain total world domination over all “normals.” He even has a chubby sidekick to join him on his ventures, minus the sweet mutton chops Zeke had.
The game never goes much farther in explaining exactly why the conduits are still around other than a shrug and a wild guess, which feels just lazy when coupled with the fact that it copy and pastes the exact same plot formula of Infamous 2.
Gameplay: If Rogue was voiced by Troy Baker.
Definitely one of the finer points of Second Son is the fluidity and variety of powers you can use in the game. Delsin is different from most conduits in that his power is to absorb abilities from others.
While you can’t change powers on the fly, it adds a good challenge when Delsin is forced to find a source to pull from and ignite a different ability (especially in the middle of a fight). Each power has a similar moveset, but some do come with specific perks over the other, such as wall-scaling or tracking projectiles.
The karma system seems practically useless with only a few good or bad path missions available. Regardless, the game locks out some of them depending on earlier choices, so many of them feel like a foregone conclusion. The destructible environments also have a bad habit of creating debris that will glitch when it falls on or near Delsin, instantly killing him. There is a good variety of side missions though, with some that utilize the PS4 controller gyroscope and speaker in interesting ways without being too gimmicky.
Graphics: THIS is why you bought a PS4…
Second Son is without a doubt, the best looking game on PS4 thus far.
Character models are detailed and the quality between cutscene and actual gameplay never drops. Fights are fast, defined, and fluid; the game maintains a full 1080p resolution that is DEFINITELY noticeable. Seeing Delsin smoke dash, drain neon, or rain down conduit pain on enemies is an unmatched visual treat that will make your eyeballs rejoice in splendor.
It also feels that the designers were much more liberal with the games’ aesthetic, pairing striking visuals of Seattle with the distinct, representative styles of other conduit characters (such as Fetch and her neon powers).
Infamous: Second Son may blatantly repeat the formula of the first two games, but it doesn’t do so without at least mixing it up a bit. Delsin is a much more expressive character than Cole was, and his supporting cast is well-developed. However, the game-defining karma system is mostly pointless and the story leaves much to be desired from fans of the series. That being said, Second Son is an exclusive title that may very well be worth the cost of a PS4, if not the full price of the game itself.
Overall score: 4/5