Ah, the good old “I am all-powerful so cower before me” open-world game. Some love it, some hate it. Actually, do people hate it? I’m usually hooked on these types of games, like Prototype and the Batman Arkham series. So, when I saw Infamous: Second Son on a pretty deep discount after reading review after shining review, I decided I should give it a try.
The end result? A rough-around-the-edges game that I give two smoldering, vengeance-dealing thumbs up.
- TL;DR: A fun, rough-around-the-edges way to wreak havoc on a city
- Platform: PS4
- Score: 8.2/10
- Hours Played: 14
- What I Played: Main story with evil karma, 100% collectibles
- Recommended?: If you enjoying roughing up a city, absolutely.
I was trying to write a flowery intro for Infamous: Second Son, but it just didn’t sound right, so I’ll just give it straight. Delsin Rowe is a typical, troublemaker teen learns that he is a Conduit, a person with elemental powers. Good for him, right? Wrong. Conduits are rounded up and thrown in a prison by the D.U.P., a government-run agency, in Seattle. When the head of the D.U.P. attacks the people of Delsin’s community after he refuses to go silently, Delsin and his police office brother, Reggie, take the fight to Seattle to not only right that wrong, but to break the stigma that Conduits are “bio-terrorists.”
Now, I’ve never played either of the previous Infamous games, so I’m not sure about where this one lies as far as continuity is concerned. I do know that the previous protagonist, Cole, had the power of electricity. Delsin has the power of smoke, which sounds lame but plays more like a hybrid of both smoke and fire. You can turn into smoke and dash through vents, transporting yourself from ground level to a rooftop in no time. Wall in your way? Appear on the other side in seconds. Shooting projectiles like smoke balls and larger fire/smoke missiles help deal damage when the D.U.P. get on your case. For a more up close approach, a chain infused with fire can beat your enemies into submission.
Alright, so describing these powers doesn’t make them sound that fun, but trust me, they are. As you progress, you’ll be able to upgrade these powers, but the upgrades are basically limited to “increase ammo capacity by X” or “execute this action X% faster.” I’m not doing the interest level of using these powers justice, but the upgrade system was disappointing for sure.
Smoke isn’t the only power that Delsin acquires, though. I don’t want to spoil too much, but there are three other skill trees to head down. Each of them is different enough from the rest to feel unique, but the upgrades are once again for ammo and efficiency. Sucker Punch did a good job at doling out a new power set just as the current one started feeling old and making the action skills different enough to make experimenting with combinations pretty fun.
I mentioned movement briefly with smoke dashing. You are free to move just about anywhere you please in Infamous: Second Son, and pretty quickly, at that. Between running, smoke dashing, gliding, and hovering, Seattle is truly your playground. Delsin can scale buildings in a sort-of parkour way, although it’s not nearly as precise as in games like Assassin’s Creed. Grabbing ledges while climbing can be a pain. There were quite a few times where I should have been able to grab the ledge above me, but I fell back to where I was only to jump another two or three times before grabbing it correctly. Again, something that could have been more finely tuned but just wasn’t.
You’ll be using this free movement to finish up all sorts of mini-games and collectibles scattered around Seattle. Some of these, like destroying drones and security cameras, are fun to hunt for. Others, like spray painting, can be a real pain in the ass. Turning the controller sideways to use like an actual can of spray paint is a good idea, but the sensor doesn’t quite work right all the time. It becomes more of a nuisance trying to finish each stencil piece to get 100% in a district.
Karma plays a pretty big factor in Infamous: Second Son. Each of the bigger missions poses a good and bad option for Delsin to choose from (I played with evil karma because I always do). Some of the (limited) upgrades require either good or bad karma, so a second playthrough is required to get everything out of the game. Certain missions are locked too, so the karma system isn’t so much a role-playing element as a which half of the game do you want to play. I only played through the game once, but I think I can safely assume that the choice of karma plays a big part in the game’s ending. When Delsin racks up a big enough body count, he can unleash a “karmic attack”, which is a super attack / limit break to deal massive, massive damage. Each power set has it’s own karmic attack, but each one boils down to “kill everything on the screen.”
Visually, Infamous is very pretty. Bits and pieces of cars, road, buildings, and enemies litter the screen with plenty of flashing colors to make you say, “ooooo.” The touch pad is used surprisingly well, with simple swipes to throw open doors and raise control panels. As is too common in third person action games, the camera can get a little out of whack, leading to crappy angles.
I may not be beaming about it, but Infamous: Second Son is fun to play. Upgrading your powers isn’t so much a branching, which-skill-do-I-want system as it is just making your current skills more effective, but new power sets are earned at a good interval. Free running is fun, but can be wonky. Side missions are everywhere with great variety, but some are a real pain. All in all, it’s definitely worth your time, but it’s not in the same class as other open-world action games.