Superpowers and building leaping is afoot in Seattle thanks to inFAMOUS Second Son, the first PlayStation 4 title from Sucker Punch Productions. The game features, for the first time, a real city instead of a fictional one inspired by real locations. With a real location and a brand new protagonist on a brand new system, inFAMOUS Second Son has a lot to prove with its transitions. While there are some little problems with the core gameplay, it’s hard not to be completely drawn in by the visuals and surprisingly strong performances on offer.
So inFAMOUS Second Son does in fact feature a brand new protagonist, Delsin Rowe, a brash, rebellious 24 year-old who isn’t afraid to be sharp with his tongue to any authority. He is a Native American from the Akomish Tribe that is set up rather early on for some exciting storylines later down the road but it never truly lives up in that regard. That doesn’t mean the story is lacking but rather is goes in different directions than is initially set up. However, the opening to the game is incredibly strong with a great set-up story-wise – including an introduction to the villain that cements right away that you will be squaring off against that person come the end. It’s fortunately more than that, the delivery and acting of the cut-scenes are really impressive as it goes far beyond what you may be expecting from an open-world game that’s centred around super-powers. It gives you great motivation to defeating the end boss but as the gameplay takes precedence, the story fizzles out in your mind.
Open-world games are usually about two things only: the world you inhabit and the gameplay opportunities within them. To give the game justice, Seattle is an enjoyable place to be, but not because of its uniqueness. Seattle seems to be recreated to the best of Sucker Punch’s abilities but it just simply doesn’t match the style of gameplay with the world. You’ve got people in the world that are running up buildings with neon, throwing smoke grenades, leaping across buildings using rock and yet it’s all done in a realistic depiction of Seattle.
Don’t get me wrong though as the realistic depiction of Seattle is possibly its strongest suit simply because the visuals of inFAMOUS Second Son are so stunning. As The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was on the generation prior, inFAMOUS Second Son is the first game to make you realise that a new generation of gaming is upon us. Visually, it’s so hard to put the game down because everything looks so damn good.
Unfortunately though, visuals don’t make great games. inFAMOUS Second Son is the first game in the series to allow you to wield more than one power freely in the world. That doesn’t mean though that you have them all at any one time. Throughout the game, dues to story progression, Delsin will come in contact with other conduits. His special power is the fact that he can absorb that person’s conduit powers on contact meaning each conduit he finds, he can essentially leech their power off them.
As with multiple powers, some are better for combat, some are better for traversal, and others blend the two to be adequate at all. Unfortunately, these powers aren’t all as fun as they should be. The second power you unlock is neon and although that wasn’t it in terms of acquiring powers but it was good enough to use throughout the rest of the game. Some moments require you to switch between powers but as soon as I was sent back to the open world, I found the first neon sign I could find and returned to that power. You can switch between powers by finding the element in the open world. This means, if you see a burnt out car with smoke billowing out of it you can absorb it to regain or resupply your smoke powers, same for neon signs and the rest.
inFAMOUS Second Son is a decent length but maybe a tad on the short side for those that are expecting the same length as you get from other open world games. You’re looking at about 14 hours with some of the side-mission content finished so it’s decent but won’t last for a really long time.
Unfortunately, the side missions are very much a rinse and repeat scenario with just a few different types throughout the world. They’re mostly fun at first, sometimes allowing you to flex your super-powered muscle but it strain after a while. The gameplay simply cannot keep the game wholly interesting for its duration. Its visuals though may keep you in the city, only though if visuals are meaningful to you for the game’s experience.
It’s a game that looks astounding, something that is only possible of people who understand the architecture of PlayStation 4 but the gameplay feels very much like its grounded in last generation mechanics. It doesn’t look like the other inFAMOUS games but it certainly plays like it. This could be a good thing for those that enjoyed previous games in the series and just want more but it seemed like the gameplay was always lacking in some regard. Still, there’s no denying just how amazing the game looks and is still a really fun game all-round.