InFamous: Second Son Review
My console experience exists before the PS4 consisted of 95% Nintendo and 5% to the 360. So as someone who never owned a Playstation before the newest console release, my only experience with the InFamous series was a demo for InFamous 2 at Wal-Mart. I was left feeling the game was probably pretty good if only they got rid of the awkward climbing Cole McGrath had to get vertical. But since the InFamous series was one of the reasons I got a PS4 in the first place, I had high hopes for InFamous: Second Son.
Thankfully my hopes were in good stock and any doubts I had been having were blasted into the sky, shot back down to earth and body-slammed with superpower goodness.
Since the canon ending of InFamous 2 where Cole McGrath sacrificed himself and all conduits to save the rest of humanity, we’re immediately informed that his actions were pointless as conduits still exist anyway. They’re called bio-terrorists now, however, and kept locked away by a government force called the DUP, ironically led by a conduit.
The protagonist, Delsin Rowe, is an Akomish whose primary job involves defacing enough things to keep his older brother employed as sheriff. But thanks to poor route planning, a military convoy carrying three conduits to somewhere drives by right as the conduits decide they don’t like being locked up. The convoy crashes and two of them escape into the night while a third is found by Delsin and his brother Reggie. In the chaos Delsin touches the conduit’s skin and behold! Delsin is actually a conduit, too, and his special ability is to steal the powers of other conduits.
As the story progresses players have the option to choose to be good or evil by making storyline choices and their actions in the game. I’m aware several reviews out there paint the duality system as old and outdated, but I’d like to argue for the duality. InFamous: Second Son is a superhero game after all, and even with all the greyish things some superheroes (and villains) do, any five year old could clearly point out which is which.
That’s not even mentioning the superb way in which the duality system unfolds in Second Son. Most of the time in video games good and evil are presented as bleeding heart and douchebag, and while that ‘s also true in Second Son, Delsin doesn’t act like a douchebag or bleeding heart right away. His actions and dialogue either way start small, cleverly building up to the point where he is running around healing the masses or painting with their blood. The progression from regular guy to either end of the karma spectrum is well done through the story to create a hero or villain with believable reasons to do so.
But enough of the story, let’s hear of the action! This is a superhero game, right?
Hell yes it is, readers. Cole McGrath might have been tough but Delsin’s powers put him to shame. While you can’t use different powers at the same time (I was a little distressed) you can switch them out at will once you pick them up. The powers themselves have some basic similarities—basic attack, heavy attack, hovering, and a movement power—but they handle differently from each other and also have special abilities unique to those powers.
The leveling system for your powers and abilities ties into your karma level and small shards around the map that work as exp points. You get these shards—usually by blasting something—that you can sink into abilities as you choose, provided you’re karma level is high enough to have it unlocked. Some of your abilities also require you to be a bleeding heart or douchebag, but don’t bother trying to play both sides, because you can only use those abilities if you stay a bleeding heart or douchebag. Thankfully the game does give out enough shards to max out one end of the spectrum so you don’t have worry about that one power you ran out of shards for.
Getting around is easy as cake regardless of what power you have. Each power has its own way of going vertical as well as vertical, so awkward hopping up building ledges is not required at all.
The combat with whatever power you like best handles tight with clear objectives of murdering or stunning your enemies and your enemies kindly respond with murder. While nothing ground-breaking, the game does throw a few special enemies at you that require a bit more thought than the regular grunts. After all it’s hard to go toe-to-toe with an enemy that insists on leaving before you can introduce him to your fist.
All of your enemies can be beaten with enough raw power thrown their way so I suppose that counts against ingenuity but it does require the player to be able to throw things their way without running out of juice or putting themselves in a pinch. Some of the enemies require a lot more force than others, leaving you to actually think about what power you want to use or how you’re going to leap into things.
After beating the main storyline and every person you can find in a mile radius you can also do the various side activities throughout the game provided you hadn’t done so yet. Most of these are quick activities that take five minutes at most to complete if you stop to use the restroom. But there is a certain satisfaction to hunting down hidden cameras and the graffiti never disappoints. I found myself playing a bleeding heart and douchebag most to see the different graffitis they have.
There isn’t much repeatability after completing both sides and doing all the side activities besides occasionally lighting up main street, but the ride is definitely enjoyable if it’s your first time. InFamous: Second Son could have maybe presented a bit more power diversity and more post-game activities, but moving through the cities and slaughtering guys with your powers is what InFamous is about, and in that matter it succeeds brilliantly.
BONUS DLC REVIEW!!
Review for InFamous: Second Son DLC Paper Trail
I can’t say I’m fond of the idea of Day 1 DLC probably because I started playing video games before DLC existed. To me putting DLC on day one tells me that you were too lazy to put it in the game while making your deadline. And probably because I’m also a Nintendo fan I’m one of the minority that doesn’t mind seeing a game delayed so they can do so.
But that aside it feels unfair to call Paper Trail a DLC because I don’t remember downloading a DLC for Infamous. Paper Trail updated itself as part of the main game’s updates which instead turned into a side-quest I never saw coming.
I had no clue what Paper Trail was when I first started the six-week journey down the rabbit hole but I have come out the other side and now I can safely tell you: definitely a fucking rabbit hole. Paper Trail was released in six parts over six weeks and rather than focus on causing mayhem or saving the masses instead focuses on some back story, murder investigations, and conspiracy like I’d never seen.
Some of you might call me several foul things for this next statement, but the majority of Paper Trail is done on your computer through their online site and it’s the coolest part of it. While Delsin occasionally scurries to crime scenes and areas of interest to take pictures and collect evidence, the player logs into a site for Paper Trail and begins putting the clues together to figure out what to do next.
Fair Warning: genuine sleuthing is involved here, through the use of websites constructed for Paper Trail, codes to decipher, and a lot of backtracking. I’m pretty sure real cops call it paperwork but I called it fun and sometimes hard as hell. Sucker Punch must be full of smart people who do nothing but read crime novels because I had to go to the real internet and flat out ask what I was supposed to be doing.
The conspiracy itself, revolving around a conduit who uses paper and makes it look cool, is fairly deep and made me pause to think about it when I had finally uncovered the truth. Sadly, like paper the DLC falls flat at the end with a lack of a confrontation with the conspirators. I wasn’t exactly expecting bonus powers though they would have been nice, but the ending left me hanging like a pair of shoes on a electrical line. I hope Sucker Punch intends to follow through with the paper conduit and storyline at some point, but considering that Paper Trail was free I probably shouldn’t complain except WHY’D THEY LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THAT?
If you like conspiracies and murder investigations then you’ll love Paper Trail’s gameplay and sleuthing. If you hate having to figure things out, though, you’re definitely going to need a walkthrough. Paper Trail does good except at the end, and I would suggest it with that warning about the end. I did mention the end, right?