The PS4 launched with great titles, but a lot of them had something that kept them from truly being considered next generation titles. Assassin’s Creed for example was released on the PS3 as well as the PS4. The titles that we’ve seen thus far are impressive, but we were all waiting for the moment when a PS4 exclusive title would be released. Something that would truly unleash the power of this system. Something that would make the PS4 sweat. We all saw the gameplay for Infamous: Second Son, and we all knew that this would be the first game to come out solely on the PS4 and no other system.
Infamous: Second Son is here my friends, and the wait has been long. It’s time to see if this so called “Second Son” can rise above the already impressive status of its predecessors. Bring your powers ladies and gentlemen because we’re about to start a war.
A Well Performed, yet Familiar Story
Infamous has always been a series that brings a comic book like story, with some real world elements that make it feel relevant without being cheesy or trite. Infamous one and Infamous two both starred Cole Mcgrath who had lightning powers. Without spoiling anything for people that may have not played the previous two, we’re now playing as a new character named Delsin Rowe. In this future, people with powers, also known as “Conduits” are showing up all around the world.
These people are instantly labeled a threat and an organization called the “Department of Unified Protection” (yeah right) show up and begin capturing these Conduits, In fact, they go so far as to call them “Bio-terrorists” and spread all kinds of propaganda. Delsin himself doesn’t know he’s a Conduit right away, but when several of them escape from the D.U.P custody, his native american tribe is threatened. the Akomish. Now, mind you, these are modern day Native Americans who live outside Seattle. This isn’t Assassin’s Creed III, luckily.
After his tribe is assaulted, Delsin discovers he’s a Conduit when he accidently absorbs the powers of one of the escaped Conduits. From here, Delsin seeks revenge for the attack on his tribe, and goes with his brother, Reggie, into Seattle to find answers. I don’t want to say anything more about the story so I’ll stop with the details here. The set up is very interesting and the pacing is great from the get go. Delsin is a good character, his dialogue is sharp and he’s more funny than he is annoying. Troy Baker does a great job of bringing out the already well written dialogue.
The story manages to handle the themes of suppression and discovery well, but ultimately it falls short of really being something truly moving. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it feels like it could have been more heavy handed with it’s themes. It kind of glosses over things that could have been brought forward more to create emotional impact. Needless to say, it’s not Bioshock or anything, but the story is still good enough to keep you engaged throughout. The performances truly carry it here, which is why I must once again commend Troy Baker for his performance.
A Massive Toy Box of Destruction
Infamous has always been a very fun and capable open world action game. The developer, Sucker Punch, managed to take Cole’s powers in a lot of interesting directions throughout his journey. Delsin instantly feels new and fresh because of the powers he absorbs throughout the game. Instead of keeping with the smoke powers that Delsin starts with, you instead get completely different types of powers as you progress through the game. I liked this approach, but I wasn’t a fan of how the powers are essentially weak when you first get them.
Instead of switching powers through a button, you can only switch back and forth between powers by absorbing the corresponding element. I like this, but what makes it frustrating is when I got the second power, I felt it was weak and needed upgrades, but I couldn’t switch back to my superior power right away. Of course, this means that you have the strategic ability to change your abilities before entering missions and the need to absorb the proper element gives it a more feasible approach, but it still becomes frustrating when you need to change powers, but you can’t.
Navigating the environment is similar to the original Infamous games with parkour elements. The powers you get give you better ways to get around, but the game still has you traveling more often than not. Utilizing the powers is great, with tight aiming and varied effects from each power. On top of this, the ultimate attacks you unlock are incredibly impressive and very destructive, You need to build up karma of the proper type to use them. but they are indeed worth the wait. The touch pad is used in very cool ways as well. They’re simple, with swipes to open doors, and holding the pad down to absorb elements in the environment. Even placing your finger on the pad to use scanners is a nice touch.
As far as the upgrades go, I loved how they did it this time around. Blast shards, which used to be collectibles, are now used for upgrades. On top of this, each power has a unique skill tree. This was a far better method of doing the upgrades, and I liked the freedom to explore various builds here. It also encourages players to find more of the blast shards to further expand their character.
The side missions this time around are simple and easy, which is both a pro and a con. For example, the graffiti missions have you holding the controller like a can of spray paint and using motion to pay through stencils. I really liked these, especially because you could choose the art based on both good and evil variations. Which brings me to my final point here. Infamous has always been about choosing between good and evil. In the original Infamous games, the choices you made and the good or evil level had gave you different powers. This time around, the differences aren’t as easy to spot.
Powers do change slightly, but the differences are not as large as Infamous one or two. I wish they had come through more with different powers for each side of karma. Even so, the powers are satisfying and the gameplay is tight. I really can’t complain about the fundamentals, there is just a few tweaks that make the gameplay more frustrating that it needs to be.
The PS4 Advantage
Infamous: Second Son is a gorgeous game. The amount of computations happening underneath the hood are staggering. The textures are all sharp, and the cutscenes showcase incredible detail to the animations in both the character’s faces and their movements. This is truly a next generation game here. On top of the beautiful graphics, the effects are incredible. Fire, smoke, light, explosions, everything comes across as incredibly detailed and the frame rate never really suffers from the graphical load.
There really isn’t much more to say about the graphics, they are incredible. It is also worth saying that the controller’s light bar is used to show your current level of karma. The colors will move toward red if you’re evil and toward blue is your good. Again, not a deal breaker, but it is a nice touch.
Infamous: Second Son is a worthy PS4 exclusive. It has next generation graphics and polished gameplay. The story is interesting and the pacing is good. The performances are great, and the powers make you feel like a true force for be reckoned with. The good and evil choices don’t quite make as much impact as they did in the older games, but they are appreciated. The game is polished and incredibly fun to play, which is what matters the most.
If you own a PS4, this game needs to be in your library. It’s engaging, fun, and while flawed in some ways, it is still an incredible experience worthy of the next generation.
Final Score: 9/10
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 03/30/2014
Sony has revealed that the first piece of InFamous DLC, titled First Light, will be hitting the PS4 in August! The DLC is standalone and won't require the Second Son disc.
The release date for the DLC is August 26th, 2014 in the United States and will cost $15.
April 17, 2014 Update
Infamous: Second Son received a free patch as of April 17, 2014 that fixed several bugs and added a number of addition features which are listed below:
- Frame rate cap (not a lock, but a cap) setting the max frame rate to 30 FPS.
- Several daytime and weather conditions to change to in the options upon game completion.
- An in-depth photo mode for capturing custom screenshots.
- The option to disable the in-game HUD for total immersion.
The review score has not changed as a result of these added features.
Updated by - Bradley Ramsey