It’s been several months, but finally, PlayStation 4 owners have access to what has been hailed as a true next-gen game. “inFamous: Second Son” delivers a compelling narrative experience and is visually an impressive title, though some aspects of gameplay are unfortunately still following habits of the previous generation.
In “inFamous: Second Son”, players are placed in the shoes of the rebellious Delsin Rowe, a much more likeable character than the previous titles’ protagonist Cole MacGrath and, rather uniquely for a video game, a member of a modern-day Native American tribe. The game is set in America seven years after the end of “inFamous 2”, and in that interim, the government has created the Department of Unified Protection (DUP) to deal with the apparent threat of so-called “bio-terrorists” like Cole and others with powers like his. This organization has an almost dictatorial modus operandi, being given the power to apprehend any bio-terrorist they find.
The game opens with Delsin and his brother Reggie, a police officer, encountering one such bio-terrorist attempting to escape a prison bus that crashed just outside Delsin’s tribe’s longhouse. After a scuffle, Delsin discovers that he can absorb the bio-terrorist’s powers, giving him the power of smoke. After the DUP raid his longhouse looking for the bio-terrorist, Delsin and Reggie travel to Seattle, Washington to face the DUP.
The characterization in “Second Son” is flawless. Delsin’s rebellious personality and newfound powers combined with Reggie’s desire for by-the-book justice and dislike of bio-terrorists makes for a compelling and believable chemistry between the two brothers, brought to life by the spectacular performances of their respective voice actors. Even the moral choice aspect is improved, with Delsin becoming a selfless redeemer or a vengeful hero gone wrong.
The combat in “Second Son” is simplistic but enjoyable, allowing Delsin to utilize melee and ranged attacks, as well as special moves like ground smashes and heavy ranged attacks. Delsin eventually gains control of three distinct powers: smoke, neon and video, which can be switched at will by “sucking up” the appropriate source in the open world, such as flaming cars, neon signs and video monitors, respectively. The powers are all impressively displayed, with spectacular visual effects accompanying each power set.
It’s in the open-world Seattle setting, however, that some of the gameplay flaws in “Second Son” surface. Players wanting to wrest control of Seattle will have to repeat the same tasks with each district, including destroying DUP strongholds, breaking security cameras and tagging walls with graffiti. While fun at first, particularly using the controller’s motion controls when tagging a wall with graffiti, repeating these tasks can be a bit of a drag, much like the city liberation side quests in the “Assassin’s Creed” series were.
Overall, though, the characters, impressive visuals and exciting combat carry this game past its flaws. “inFamous: Second Son” for the PS4 earns an eight out of 10.