You know, it occurred to me the other day that we don’t actually have a review for inFamous: Second Son. The reason being that Pure PlayStation didn’t exist back when cocky twat Delsin Rowe was mooching around a fictional Seattle back in 2014. But here we are in 2017 with inFamous: Second Son being a PS Plus title. Makes sense to go in for a review now, doesn’t it?
I actually played through inFamous: Second Son quite close to its original release, so when I thought about reviewing the game, I realised I was a little rusty on the details. It’s been three years, man. As I’ve recently flogged my copy of the game on eBay (the week before the PS Plus release – winner!) I downloaded the digital version. Why am I mentioning all of this? So you know that I’m playing the most up to date version of the game. And that I actually know what I’m talking about rather than relying on vague memories of being pissed off with dying a bunch of times.
If you’ve played the previous installments in the inFamous series, you’ll know what to expect: super powers, bad guys, and an open world. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a pure video game, but perfect this game is not.
It all starts out rather innocently with Delsin running around with his graffiti spray. He’s a true twat of my generation and he likes nothing more than to vandalise other people’s property. Without spoiling too much or dragging this review into a 5000-word essay, our young hero is bestowed with super powers after a confrontation with an escaped Conduit, or as the game’s Nazi-like bad guys called them, Bio Terrorists. Conduits are people with special abilities. Like X-Men, but without the suspicious old dude keeping kids locked in his mansion.
Things quickly snowball from here and Delsin is forced to confront his destiny… By being an even bigger dick in a bigger setting. Once you’ve left the Akomish reservation for the big city, this is when the game opens up. You’ll be given a standard open-world to explore with the standard side-missions scattered throughout. The main story path can be done away with in under 10 hours if you’re ignoring the side-content, and much of it is very easy to skip over. Why? Because they’re boring, that’s why. Despite being a great showcase for the PS4 when it released, inFamous: Second Son was still clinging to the past with its approach to side-missions. Instead of being exciting little pit-stops along the way, they were repetitive, dull, and at times, frustrating deviations from the moment-to-moment gameplay. Speaking of…
inFamous: Second Son is all about the gameplay. While the story manages to make the fiction seem at least plausible (or as far as it can in video-game land) it’s not a thrilling tale, though it beats out the previous games easily. Plus, Delsin Rowe is an alright character, even if I personally think he’s a bit of a knobhead. At least he’s not a sulking sod like Cole…
The gameplay is, in a word, sublime. Traversal and combat have been completely torn apart and rebuilt for the PS4 generation. Forget the dodgy parkour that Cole what’s-his-face used to get around, Second Son gives you proper powers. See a building? Just run up it, or hit a vent and smoke your way to the top. Want to get to an adjacent building in the distance? Dash through the air and glide down gracefully. Easy. Moving around the city is truly a joy when the controls just work. You can still engage in some parkour-style acrobatics, but it’s just so much easier to use your powers. I mean, wouldn’t you do that in real life?
It helps, too, that the city looks amazing. Even now in 2017, three years post release, I’m still impressed with what’s on the screen. It’s not the biggest open world and it’s by no means the densest, but it still looks remarkable to this day. And to think people were dismissing HDTVs in the early 2000s… It’s not completely without fault, mind, but if you can look past a few dodgy character models and a wobbly framerate (and it does get wobbly when you’re tearing shit up) you’ll be in for a game that is not only fun, but also looks bloody marvellous.
Combat is where the game really comes into its own. With a slew of abilities that change depending on how you play the game, you’re never short of ways to kill and maim. Well, that is if you decide to play as an evil dickwad. If you choose the path of righteousness you’ll be aiming to take out D.U.P agents without actually killing them. So a few blows to the legs to get them crying on the ground will keep you on the straight and narrow. Play the game with death on the brain and you’ll be able to obliterate any fool that comes your way, even innocent folks. While it’s a cool feature to have, the moral pendulum only swings two ways and there’s no middle ground. You’re either good or you’re bad, and as we all know, life isn’t like that. We’re all good and we’re all bad, but some of us take it too far in either direction and become insufferable twats or evil bastards. It would have made the story a little more interesting if there was a more wiggle room in this area, but I guess that’ll have to wait until next time.
Depending on how you play, the abilities you can unlock as you progress will change. Aside from the story taking a couple of turns in the road, changing your powers is the most significant thing affected by your moral compass. It really is a crying shame that the developers weren’t able to give the good vs. evil thing a bit more depth. I know, I’ve already said that about three paragraphs ago, but I’m saying it again. I want proper repercussions to my dickish behaviour, please!
Some three years later, you're probably wondering who this review is for. If you're a PS Plus member trying to decide whether it's worth downloading, I'd say go for it. It's a decent effort. It falls short in terms of story, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. Plus, it's free. Duh.
inFamous: Second Son still carries a lot of the weight of a last-gen release, but with the pretty coat it's wearing it's easy to overlook the few issues it has. Even those crappy graffiti mini-games...
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella.