The AAA dry spell of the current generation of consoles is starting to clear up – Infamous Second Son is leading the charge on the Playstation 4. For fans of the series, you’ll find plenty of familiar open world content, but most importantly a distilled, clean third person action title that looks and plays great.
Seattle is the home of Delsin Rowe, who is unceremoniously thrown into the world of bio-terrorism, fighting against the military DUP forces. You’ll get your hands on a stack of awesome powers, allowing you to decimate whatever challenges are placed before Delsin. Seattle is sectioned off into districts that are under control by the DUP, and by eliminating their presence out of these sectors, you’ll gain fast travel locations and more blast shards, which allow you power up your skills. Activities like destroying DUP compounds, finding double agents, hidden cameras, destroying roaming drones, or spray-painting propaganda will lessen the DUP presence. While clearing sectors is beneficial, there insufficient variation in the activities; after you’ve blown up one hidden camera, they’re all pretty much the same. Going for a full clear of all the activities is worth it but by the time you get to the back half of the game, it can be a chore.
Ultimately, the refreshing story missions tend to be a good mixer to allow some break from the district clearing. You’ll meet a myriad of characters on your way to battle the head of the DUP forces. Primarily, Delsin’s brother is your point of contact, offering missions and advice by phone. Missions vary in length, but tend to take you through the districts in a chain that will give you opportunity to do some DUP clearing at the same time. Delsin will fight through some enemy arenas, some chases, some detective work similar to Batman games, and if you have the content, there is an online component that ties into a side mission giving more background on the going-ons in Seattle.
The hero/villain meter returns, and Delsin will have a few different ways to build his status in either column. There are story beats where you’ll have to make a choice, or some actions like healing civilians (or killing them) will add to your meter. Different skill bonuses open up as you progress through the ranks, and depending on your choice, the ultimate meter will fill in different methods (ie heroic actions vs chaotic rampages). I found it interesting to play as a hero in my initial playthrough, as I switched to villain in my second playthrough, I found myself freely destroying everything in my path, something I hadn’t done as a hero. It was a different type of experience but I’m not sure the evil Delsin really fits the storyline that is happening through the main story thread.
Visually, the game is impressive. Lots of contrasting color, and the particle effects are amazing for the destruction of objects and also Delsin’s powers. Neon, smoke and other enemy types look great and through the course of the title you’ll experience all sorts of jaw dropping events. The voice work is amazing, with the ever-present Troy Baker (Delsin), veteran Travis Willingham (Reggie) and Christine Dunford (Augustine). My complaint from past Infamous titles rings true again here. The city of Seattle is more awake then New Orleans (Infamous 2) was in terms of ambience, but there are still times where I felt the world was simply too quiet.
Overall, Second Son sets next-gen expectations in terms of visuals and delivers a solid story that doesn’t necessarily break any boundaries. Even if you’ve never played another Infamous game, this is the time to hop on board as we wait for more titles this spring.