inFAMOUS: Second Son is the third main instalment in the series from Sucker Punch (relax – they had nothing to do with that god-awful movie of the same name!)
It’s also one of the first major exclusives for Sony in the new console generation, granting it both the honour and added pressure of showing us just what the PS4 can do.
Second Son has you firing about a gorgeously rendered Seattle using super (or “conduit”) powers for your choice of either heroic or nefarious purposes. At set points, you’ll encounter other conduits with different abilities that you can inherit, upgrade and charge using objects in the environment. Inspired by the inner city landscape, these powers have a distinctly urban theme. Say goodbye to Lightning; we now have Smoke, Neon, Video and Concrete.
The action is slick and the special moves are exciting. Doing the Comet Drop off the top of a skyscraper never gets old. There are a few niggles with the basic movements, particularly climbing, but once you can blast up the side of a building in a Neon blaze then it hardly seems to matter. The game takes advantage of the PS4’s touch pad for various actions, such as scanning fingerprints and opening doors, and the built-in speaker emits mobile ringtones and the rattling of spray cans. Using the controller for graffiti art is a bit of a novelty, but don’t ask where you found the time to make all those stencils.
Second Son introduces a new protagonist, Delsin Rowe (voiced by Troy Baker.) Rather than showing us another brooding, reluctant hero with the weight of the world on his shoulders, Delsin embraces his powers and frequently loses himself in the sheer thrill of it all. And who wouldn’t? His enthusiasm is kept in check by his older brother Reggie (Travis Willingham), and it must be said that their brotherly banter raises the bar in terms of video game voice acting. Likewise the animation and motion capture work brilliantly in the cutscenes, often in subtle ways like a character’s wrinkles moving when they speak. Everything feels more natural and I’m hoping this is the way forward for dialogue in games.
The choice of becoming “Infamous” or a “True Hero” gives an incentive for a second playthrough but ultimately feels a little shallow for a morality system. Certain story elements, such as the “drugs are bad, mmmkay” subplot, also feel a tad simplistic. Basically there is no middle ground between “good guy” and “utter bastard” and, as your Karma Meter is tied to your abilities, it makes zero sense to change course midgame. The choice to corrupt or redeem other characters is an interesting idea but ultimately changes very little apart from the ending.
Overall, inFAMOUS: Second Son does not disappoint. It’s fast, fun and an excellent showcase for the Playstation 4’s capabilities. It might not be anything groundbreaking gameplay-wise but it looks and feels impressive and no doubt you’ll have a blast.