So then, “inFAMOUS Second Son”- the third in a series of superhero/villain (depending on your preference) sandbox games with an emphasis on moral choices. I enjoyed the first two games a lot- said moral choices were rather bold and dramatic as befits the tone, and the gameplay conveyed being a superhero/villain rather well. Somewhat irritatingly the good ending to the excellent second game was made cannon (I played both games as a complete scumbag), and so we have Second Son- a new story with a new protagonist. Is it any good? Does it live up to the level set by the series so far?
You are Delsin Rowe (apparently Delsin is a name made up for the game, as I suspected) a Native American graffiti artist who wears far too many clothes and lives with his tribe, the Akomish, near Seattle. When a conduit (people with superpowers) escapes from a D.U.P (the people hunting down conduits) transport truck on the tribe’s land, Delsin discovers he has the ability to drain the powers of conduits, an ability that results in the head of the D.U.P (named Augustine) using her concrete-based power to cripple the entire tribe because she’s a dick that way. Realising his ability will allow him to steal Augustine’s powers and reverse the Akomish people’s condition, Delsin and his straight-man cop brother Reggie set off for Seattle, where the D.U.P is based. The story is pretty straightforward- Delsin and Reggie mooch around Seattle, Delsin makes two allies and shares their powers, Reggie tries to do things by the book and gets irritated with Delsin because he’s a loose cannon that needs to hand in his gun and badge because he’s off the case- there aren’t really any surprises. The characters themselves are a mixed bag. The best among them is definitely Reggie; he’s well-written, well-acted and has genuine conflict between his duties as a police officer and his love for Delsin. He’s the straight man but he fills the role nicely, turning it into more of a character than just a cliche or archetype. Worse among them is, unfortunately, Delsin himself- he’s a free spirited rogue who ain’t got time for yo’ rules, maaaaaaaan and he needs to SHUT THE HELL UP BEFORE I WRAP HIS BLOODY RUMBLE CHAIN AROUND HIS THROAT. The vast majority of his dialogue just really irritated me (though its even worse in the subtitles, which in some cases are completely different to the actual dialogue), which is obviously a problem when he’s the player character and I’m supposed to be rooting for him. He’s well acted by Troy Baker, it’s just what he has to work with, which is really not up to much. His two mates are a young woman who used to be a drug addict and has sex with Delsin after knowing him for like an hour and a half, and a dude who’s a (Homer Simpson voice) NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD! who likes fantasy. That’s pretty much it for them, character wise. The tribe themselves are barely in the game- they’re supposed to be the reason Delsin’s doing all this but they’re quickly swept by the wayside. Granted I took the evil path, but even so Delsin still went back to them at the end. Speaking of which, the infamous ending is really rather abrupt- genuinely surprisingly so. Oh, and one of the biggest failings of the story is its moral choices. In previous games they really affected the story. Admittedly it was because you were really good or really evil to an overblown, almost cartoonish degree, but they still worked. Here the choices are sparse and don’t have much visible effect apart from in a few key areas, and some missions are locked depending on your karma alignment. So essentially it’s taking the whole “You pretty much have to pick good or evil from the start” to its logical conclusion. It’s a shame really, as the other two games did have pretty good stories, for the most part.
Gameplay wise, it’s familiar territory. If you’ve played the other games, you know what to expect; free-running, shooting projectiles with a crosshair, melee attacks, that same annoyingly floaty jump that semi-sticks to climbable objects. It’s inFAMOUS through-and-through, with one major difference. Rather than stick with one power for the duration of the game (electricity in the other games) here you have one power at a time and can switch them at will if you’re near the appropriate power source. They are smoke (which sort of makes sense, but it’s pushing it a bit), Neon (Hmm…) and Video (Nope, too much. That’s nonsense). They all follow a definite formula but have strengths and weaknesses, making them stand-out to a degree. Draining points can seem arbitrary though, and none of them are as cool as the electricity seen in the other games. For those unaware of how the game works- it’s a free-roaming game with climbing mechanics, super-powered quick travel and a mixture of melee combat and projectiles that is mixed competently, but can get annoying- some attacks clearly work better than others, armoured enemies are a huge pain in the arse and you can get juggled quite easily. Also there is literally no reason why you can’t swim. Cole MacGrath couldn’t swim because his body was full of electricity. When Delsin falls in water he just freezes and you have to press the touchpad to teleport him back to land. Speaking of the touchpad, it’s just used as a big button, and occasionally you swipe it. Not much, but pretty simple and effective.
I rarely mention this in reviews, but the game does look fantastic- Character models are sharp, environments look detailed and the lighting is gorgeous.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag. The new power system is interesting but not nothing special, the characters are largely annoying or one-not and the gameplay is standard inFAMOUS fare. However, if you’re looking for a beautiful-looking inFAMOUS game, this should satisfy, and if you want a decent action game for PS4 then do consider checking it out. Otherwise there’s not much here. It’s not a failure, but inFAMOUS 2 beats it by a country mile.
Oh, also- it’s nice to see Native Americans in a game that aren’t mystical shamans living in the desert and fighting off demons. The Akomish are just people with a strong sense of identity and community living their lives. So props for that, Sucker Punch.
By James Lambert