Monday, April 7, 2014

Enjoy Your Power with inFamous Second Son

Quick Note: Second Son is SO good. For any one who enjoys exploring open worlds with lots of stuff to do and play around with all sorts of abilities given to you, this is the game for you. Though the story falls off towards the end of the game, it still hits home pretty well and playing with all the powers is so much fun. If you own a PS4 you need to buy this game. 

inFamous has always been a big franchise for me. The idea of an every man gaining crazy super powers and tearing around giant cities appeals to the little boy in me, but the choices of being good or bad brings out the hero (or villain) in me. So when Second Son was announced for PS4, I was ecstatic. Sucker Punch should be proud of this game because it is a fine accomplishment and a perfect representation of what inFamous and inFamous 2 have been building up to.

Second Son takes place 7 years after the end of inFamous 2. Going off of player trophy information, the developers decided to go with the most popular ending to the game, which turned out to be the good ending. (This is your only spoiler alert for inFamous 2. You have been warned.) Cole's death has scared the world into tracking down conduits, in fear of another Empire City or New Marais event. The Department of Unified Protection (DUP for short) has been founded and has walled up Seattle, Washington in the hopes of finding conduits hiding in plain site. After a small series of events, Delsin Rowe, the new protagonist, unlocks his powers and embarks on his adventure to take down the DUP.

As a character, Delsin is very different than Cole. Younger and more rebellious than Cole, Delsin is a good pick to restart the universe on the newest platform. He is constantly mouthing off to the DUP and every side mission reflects his desire to bring down this organization. With this new character we get new powers, specifically, the power to absorb other conduits powers. This is by far the strongest point of Second Son. Though you start out with Smoke, Delsin slowly acquires three more powers, each with enough variety to feel different and create different play styles, but enough similarity that it doesn't change the control schemes behind the game.

Smoke is a great starting point. It is the most similar to Cole's electrical powers and is a great way to break players into the game's play style. With smoke comes more versatility and movement as well. Where as Cole was constantly scaling buildings to gain height, very rarely will you have Delsin climb from bottom to top of any building. And that is the goal with all the powers. As you gain each new power a new layer of movement is added to the game. Neon provides a speed dash (similar to the Flash) that makes travel even faster than Smoke, and so on. Each power iterates on the last to make travel around Seattle amazingly efficient. Plus, add in the fact that each power has it's own specialties, and you'll be dying to get to the next power and level it up as fast as possible.

To gain these powers, Delsin works with his brother Reggie to track down runaway conduits. Most of the story revolves around Delsin finding these conduits, fighting them, gaining the new power, and then mentoring said conduit. Though seemingly shallow on the surface, the interactions are pretty interesting, with Reggie and Delsin constantly clashing on what to do with each conduit they come across. It especially gets interesting when you play the Evil missions, because Reggie, being a cop, does not agree with the Evil choices what so ever.

All of these powers are displayed beautifully in the game. The graphics are drop dead gorgeous, portraying Seattle in all of it's eccentric glory. There were plenty of times where I would just stop and look at how beautiful the rain falling from the sky looked or how amazing the neon lights reflected in the puddles on the ground. There is no way this game could have been made with last generation technology, and just looking at it proves this. Aside from the amazing environments, the facial animations and voice acting of the actors are also spot on.  Watching cut scenes where Delsin's skin actually wrinkles around his mouth when he talks is amazing, though the teeth and eyes looked oddly out of place from time to time. Over all, this is the most gorgeous game on PS4 right now, hands down. 

The karma missions, coupled with the overarching story missions, are very interesting and less comic book like than the previous games, which is what makes it so good and also brings it down to earth. However, the last third of the story is really slow and by the time you beat the final boss, the resolution is over so quickly you kind of wish there were more. It felt like all of this build to have this really good boss fight and then...nothing.

That being said, the main antagonist is amazing and much better developed than the main villains of the last two games. 15 minutes into starting the game I knew I wanted to take her down in the most violent way possible, and that's a much stronger emotional response than my reaction to Kessler or the Beast.

The karma system is back with little deviation. Powers are unlocked through a skill tree, but certain paths are only unlocked depending on how good or evil you are. These unique skills change each power set to feel different, so playing through twice (one for good, one for bad) feels rather different from each other, which is great. Many people have complained about this black and white system in the past, and it hasn't changed much from that. Personally, I like it. In an open world game like this I don't particularly want all the shades of grey when it comes to character decisions, especially when the karma effects powers you gain. That being said, if you weren't a fan of the system before hand, don't expect anything different here. There are also less of these missions than previous, making the impact less intense as it should feel. Where as inFamous 1 and 2 had roughly 10 or more Evil/Good missions you had to choose from, Second Son only has 5, and one of those is the final mission. So a majority of your heroic or villainous decisions are made outside of the story, making the impact feel smaller than it had in the past games and making you wish there was more.

Aside from the story missions and the Heroic and Evil tasks, there are plenty of side quests to hamper the DUP. My favorite thing thing about these missions is how organically they are interwoven to Delsin's mission and how they don't feel tagged on. Even collecting blast shards has a more logical progression and meaning to why there are blast shards in the city, rather than a giant explosion expelling them across the area. This continuity makes the game come together better as a whole, making each mission feel like a step closer to your ultimate goal rather than being an extra thing on the side.

Sucker Punch has also announced and released free DLC for the game. Since launch, the team has released a set of missions each week (and will do so for 3 more weeks) titled the Paper Trail missions. Each mission requires Delsin to follow a conduit with paper powers to crime scenes and investigate the killer by sending evidence to an anonymous helper: you. By logging into this website, you can link your PS4 and create an account to solve the puzzles to open up more missions on your PS4. These missions not only add to the story and universe that Delsin is apart of, but are also so much fun to solve. Sucker Punch could have easily just done a quick cash in, but the detail put into these missions is amazing and totally worth playing through I highly recommend that everyone who plays the game play through these missions to get more out of the game. 

Aside from a few story hiccups, Second Son is amazing. The feeling of the new powers, the ability to move across Seattle like never before possible in the past games, and the succinctness of the world just brings everything together in such a nice package that is hard to put down once you pick it up. Hopefully Sucker Punch takes this amazing engine and brings Delsin around one more time for a conclusion to his story so they can patch up the narrative stuff, but don't touch the gameplay, because it is perfect. I highly recommend this game to any PS4 owner, especially if you never played the other inFamous games because this game is that good. 

9.5 out of 10

Here are a Few Links:
IGN Review
Game Site
Papertrails Site
Metacritic Page

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