Infamous is a series that I've had mixed feelings for over the years. I played the first game a while after its release in hopes of catching onto the hype that surrounded it, but it just didn't stick with me. There were a combination of things that kept me from really enjoying it, but at the same time there were things that I knew had the potential to take me in and I quite liked the story. The second game did a far better job at reeling me in. The new powers, more interesting setting, and a host of other things placed Infamous 2 firmly into my pile of really good games. I wasn't sure what to expect from Infamous: Second Son and that's probably for the best, because having no real expectations meant that I was all the more blown away by how much fun I've had.
Second Son comes off as part sequel, part reboot. It's tied to the previous two entries in that Second Son takes place 7 years after the events of Infamous 2's good ending. At the same time however, it makes no effort to mention those events in more than passing and if you want any sort of real ties to the previous games you'll have to play the Cole's Legacy dlc that comes with the preorders. I didn't mind this, and in fact I think this was probably the best course of action because it serves to be an excellent entry for those who have never played an Infamous game before while still being familiar to those who have.
Second Son is the story of a delinquent by the name of Delsin Rowe, a young man of Native American descent whose place in life becomes infinitely more significant when a military vehicle carrying “Bio-Terrorists” (the government's brand for the powerful Conduits of previous games) crashes and he comes into contact with one of them. Delsin soon learns that he himself is a conduit, and one with quite a unique gift. While up to this point we've mainly seen powers of lightning or ice, Delsin has the power to absorb the powers of other Conduits through skin on skin contact. Your protagonist's new powers unfortunately attract the worst kind of attention as the DUP, the government agency who has been keeping tabs on all Conduits, comes looking for the escapees and stumbles upon you and your Akomish tribe. From there the story escalates into one of corruption, empowerment, and taking down the oppressors.
This entry sees the return of the Karma morality system as you remember it, and this is certainly one of the elements of the game that could have stood to be improved. It's really cool to have the option to take different choices and obtain powers depending on the way that you've built your character and the decisions you've made, but the evil choices don't seem to fit the character. While Delsin is a bit of a rebel and always seems to be up to no good, you never get the impression that he's a bad person. He's such an excellent and believable character, whether he's being a brat or helping people out, that I wouldn't want to see them remove that for the sake of you having a blank slate to project your morality choices onto, but maybe one day someone will discover a way to combine having a fantastic character with a good/evil morality system.
Your first power is that of smoke and embers and by the end of the game you'll have four powers to swap between. Sucker Punch clearly sought to give each power a unique feel while keeping them similar enough so as not to get overly confused by any sort of potential control change. Each power uses the same control scheme but varies the outcome, for example using your Smoke L1 will lob a nonlethal smoke grenade which throws enemies into coughing fits, while your second power, Neon, causes an equally nonlethal explosion that sends enemies into the air while slowing down time for them. Each power is fun to use, especially once you learn the best scenarios to use it in, and they allow you to vary up the already enjoyable combat at your leisure.
There's only one thing with the power system that I didn't particularly enjoy and that is the fact that if you wish to swap between powers you have to go over to the desired power source in the world and absorb it. It would have been nice if it kept track of how much of a given power source you still had absorbed while using a different power, but I suppose that would have also made Delsin a bit TOO powerful.
Each of your powers has a skill tree assigned to it and you can gain new skills, or power up existing ones, by obtaining and spending blast shards. There are a few skills that are tied to your karma and some of them enhance your powers in very interesting ways, for instance with good karma you can give your basic smoke projectile the power to instantly throw an enemy into a coughing fit when you get a headshot. The previously mentioned blast shards can be found all over Seattle, and are made easier to locate by taking out the DUP in each of the districts. By taking out the mobile command center in a given district, the locations of all blast shards and side objectives will appear on your map, making 100%-ing the game both accessible and enjoyable.
Speaking of Seattle, you've probably noticed this from the various screenshots and gameplay videos that have been released but the setting for this game is absolutely gorgeous. It does a wonderful job of showcasing the power of the PS4 and can lead to you simply wanting to wander the city and take in the amazing visuals on display. The models, voice work, and facial capture are all excellent. The framerate is solid as well, with noticeable drops only ever occurring if there is just an absolute mess of things going on onscreen, and even then it's rare. Delsin himself controls well, but there are occasional issues with some of the parkour elements when it comes to trying to grab onto specific ledges, as well as a few clipping issues when speeding up the side of a ledge-ridden building with one of the more transportation oriented powers.
Overall Infamous: Second Son is excellent and just what the PS4 needed to pull in some more early adopters. It's fast paced, dramatic, and most of all: fun. Regardless of your feelings on previous entries in the Infamous series, Second Son is a fantastic way to spend 10-20 hours, depending on how much of the city you want to take back. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Sucker Punch and their Infamous series.