For those of you unfamiliar with the inFAMOUS series, allow me to give you a quick history lesson. A rare genetic mutation has allowed some people to absorb certain superhero powers. These people are known as “Conduits.” In both inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2, players were introduced to Cole McGrath, a Conduit who could harness lightning. Although the events of Cole’s story were mostly scripted, the game included a morality system in which a player’s choices directly affected the world.
As such, Cole could eventually turn into a hero or a villain, depending on how he utilized his powers. I won’t give away the ending of that story (although I will say that the canon of the story followed the hero ending), but inFAMOUS 2: Second Son takes place seven years later. Following the choices Cole McGrath made, the United States Government formed the Defense of Unified Protection (DUP) to capture all Conduits, who are now considered bio-terrorists.
Second Son follows the story of Delsin Rowe and his journey as a Conduit. Back from the original is the same open world, morality driven story that takes place in military controlled Seattle, Washington. Here, the DUP has tracked down a series of Conduits. Delsin unfortunately stumbles into the middle of this, and thus the stage is set for Second Son.
No requirement of the previous games is required, although some reoccurring characters and plot themes may not be as consequential or revolutionary to new players. The plot is on the shorter side, and although somewhat predicable, encapsulates a great journey that I really did enjoy. Delsin’s dialogue, whether playing as a hero or villain, fits each scene in a believable way. Whether you choose good or bad actions, Delsin’s dialogue fits the scenario perfectly. You wouldn’t know that the game allows you to choose based on how quickly Delsin responds to actions you perform during open world gameplay.
My only complaint with this morality system was, at times, motivations were a bit unclear. Again, avoiding spoilers, the objective of the game is pretty straightforward after the first fifteen minutes or so. It’s hard to believe that some of the evil things Delsin does actually helps him achieve his initial goal. It’s been a complaint of mine since the first inFAMOUS title, and unfortunately, carries through to this installment.
Story elements aside, the gameplay is fast, fluid and fresh. Delsin starts with smoke powers. Among the pretty impressive arsenal at your disposal, the ability to teleport short distances is one of the greater elements of the game. If smoke could pass through an object (a chain link fence, for example), Delsin can teleport through it. This makes combat a blast as you weave through obstacles lying waste to the numerous DUP agents you will encounter. Other smoke powers are also fun to play with, including the ability to shoot projectiles, temporarily hover above the ground, and engage in pretty devastating smoke-imbued melee combat. Delsin will also learn Neon abilities, but again, I’d like to leave some of the greater surprises to you to discover.
Abilities are leveled up via a simple skill tree system. Each point in the tree comes at the cost of a blast shard, which is scattered across the world map. Using this method of currency allows players to level up quickly. This is a welcome addition to the game as I never once felt limited in the powers I had access to. Within the first half hour of the game, I had already unlocked three different abilities. Some abilities are locked solely by in-game progress, so for those completionists that like to explore and uncover the entire map before advancing the story, don’t worry, gameplay will remain fresh for you too.
The city itself is amazing to explore. It is broken up into various districts that are controlled by DUP outposts. Each outpost is heavily guarded, and upon destruction, will uncover all the blast shards, and activities, in that zone. It’s a somewhat methodical structure to the game, but each district is unique and contains its own set of challenges, including vandalism (Delsin is quite the graffiti artist), hidden camera locations, side quests, and undercover DUP agent hide-and-seeks. These modes are fun and offer some different gameplay from the traditional combat, but do stale quickly if done in rapid succession.
Controlling Delsin through the amazing city is a breeze, and the DualShock 4 really shines in this aspect. The touch pad is now utilized for more than accessing a map, and instead is used for various in-game activities, such as opening doors and lifting panels. It felt intuitive and worked well with the flow of combat. In certain situations, the touchpad was utilized in tandem with the trigger or shoulder buttons. I have big hands so this wasn’t an issue, but I could see where some people may have to slightly shift the controller around to match the on-screen button prompts.
I saved the real treat of this game for last: the amazing graphics. Seattle’s rain covered streets were great eye candy. The smoke and neon powers really shine, with particle effects really popping off of the screen. Shadows from light sources were mapped beautifully, so gone are the days of the pixelated shadows that didn’t quite match gameplay. The vivid yellow colors of the DUP were also a particular highlight for me. The combination of the destructible environments that go up in a plume of smoke (quite literally!) after Delsin unleashes some powerful moves are a real treat to witness. Frame rate never dips and I didn’t notice any pop-ups. Draw distance was high, too.
For any of you who have had dreams of being a superhero, or are just looking for a great PlayStation 4 title to fill out your library, inFAMOUS: Second Son has you covered. Delsin’s personality carries the game throughout his adventure in Seattle, and the various powers and stunning visual effects will keep you entertained. You won’t be disappointed with this title, and although on the shorter side (I beat the game in about 20 hours), the game does offer different dialogue based on good or evil choices, so a second replay may be warranted.
+ Amazing graphics
+ Diverse power-set that leaves you feeling powerful
+ Delsin is a likeable character, whether he is good or evil
- A bit on the short side
- Morality system, at times, feels slightly out of place
- Mini games become redundant
Overall score: 4 out of 5. If the gameplay had slightly more diversity to it, I would have ranked it higher. While the graphics are stunning, they can only carry the game so far.