ENJOY YOUR POWERS
Sucker Punch studios brought its popular Infamous series to the next generation with Playstation 4’s Infamous: Second Son. The developer successfully crafted what is my personal choice for game of the year in 2014 so far. Not only that, but they managed to create a game that I played through twice, something I had not done since 2012’s Mass Effect 3.
Second Son deviates from the story of the original two games but is set in the same universe 7 years later. Conduits – humans with special super powers – are all but gone thanks to the US Government’s “D.U.P.” The D.U.P. is charged with bringing bioterrorism to an end (conduits are negatively referred to as “bioterrorists”). The game’s protagonist is Delsin Rowe, a punk 20-something year old delinquent whose brother is the local Sheriff.
A military armed-vehicle transporting three conduits ends up crashing nearby, and Delsin and his brother Reggie run to the wreckage. Two conduits escape, but they manage to catch the third named “Hank.” Upon wrestling Hank, Delsin inadvertently becomes a conduit. This is the beginning of the arch as Delsin eventually will meet the others.
The game takes place in a beautifully created Seattle, Washington. I often caught myself stopping on top of a skyscraper just to pan the camera and stare at the city. I’ve never been to Seattle, but the in-game version certainly had a specific feel to it. There are times when you will be adventuring in daylight and at nighttime – both are breathtaking. The current trend in recreating real-life cities (be it Assassin’s Creed or Watch Dogs) is a welcome one, as next-gen systems bring them to life like never before. I am not one to usually rifle through secondary missions and objectives, but I was yearning to achieve them in Second Son. Trophy incentive aside, they were genuinely fun tasks. Each task completed would bring the percentage that the D.U.P controls the city down. These include destroying cameras, busting drug dealers, and spray painting (my favorite, in which you turn the Dualshock sideways and shake it like a can.) My favorite visual was climbing the Space Needle, which often gave my stomach that feeling before you go over a hill on a roller coaster. Lastly, Sucker Punch allowed real-life local businesses in Seattle to purchase spots in the game. This really helped to keep the city feel genuine (despite a low amount of NPC activity).
The Infamous series is known for its gameplay, and Second Son is no exception. While I loved the story and truly felt connected to Delsin and the cast, gameplay is king. You will possess 4 different powers throughout the game – smoke, neon, video, and concrete. Neon was my clear-cut favorite, as I often returned to it when given the choice of powers. Neon made me feel like I not only had the force, but could wield a lightsaber. Overall, combat felt sensitive on the Dualshock 4 but I got used to it quickly through a bit of compensation.
Voice acting was superb, brought to life by Troy Baker (Delsin). If you aren’t aware of Troy Baker, odds are he plays the lead in your favorite video game (seriously, Google him). Troy kept the feeling light, if not silly at times, but it seemed to fit in nicely with Delsin’s immature behavior. Travis Willingham plays Reggie and is the perfect moral compass (or wet blanket). Laura Bailey (ironically, Willingham’s wife), voiced “Fetch,” my favorite of Delsin’s conduit friends. Fetch is a lovable punk regardless if you play as a hero or a villain. Which leads me to the game’s morality meter.
The Infamous series is based on choice – save a person, earn good karma. Ruin a rally in the streets, earn bad karma. I typically play games how I think I’d choose in real life. My first playthrough, I committed to good karma. Just before the game’s climax, an intense event occurs that left me jaw-dropped and motivated me to move on to the end. I felt immersed in Delsin’s mind and thought process – a true victory for story telling early in the Playstation 4’s legacy. The ending was certainly satisfying. I love the comic-style cut-scenes, but could have enjoyed animated scenes even more. Upon seeing hero’s ending, I pressed on to run through a second time. I heard in many circles that the infamous ending was dark and had to see for myself. While it was dark, I expected more (Delsin goes all Anakin Skywalker in Episode 2). The story took roughly 7-8 hours (each playthrough) mixed in with a few side missions.
+ Nicely paced, perfect length
+ Top notch gameplay, highlighted by great super powers
+ Gorgeous visuals and immersing characters
+ Worth playing twice in a crowded year for games
Josiah LeRoy is Geekiverse’s Senior Editor, follow him on Twitter.