Review: inFamous: Second Son



Chris Carter

Reviews Director

9:00 AM on 03.20.2014

Delsin rules, Cole drools

I never liked the first inFamous.

I can't quite put my finger on what I disliked most -- perhaps it was the droll art style, the cookie-cutter city sandbox, or the sentient wooden plank that Sucker Punch named "Cole Macgrath." Thankfully, the New Orleans-like setting of the sequel spiced things up a bit, and the decision to go with an even sillier vampiric setup made Festival of Blood more enjoyable.

inFamous: Second Son takes everything that the series has done right, puts it in a blender, and delivers what is easily the strongest entry yet.

inFamous: Second Son (PS4)
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release: March 21, 2014
Price: $59.99

inFamous kicks off with a completely self-contained story involving a world full of Conduits -- beings with super-powers dubbed "Bio-Terrorists" by the Department of Unified Protection, an agency that has the full legal authority to detain or destroy said beings. You don't need to know anything about the prior entries in the series to enjoy Second Son, nor do you really have to reach far to grasp the initial concept of superheroes walking the Earth, which is easily a good thing.

The story this time around follows Delsin, a young and defiant individual who finds himself smack dab in the middle of an incident of super proportions, when a van carrying various Conduits crashes into his hometown. After coming in contact with a fire-based being, he inherits the power of "Smoke," allowing him to teleport short distances, hover, and shoot fireballs from his hands.

The superhero origin story is a familiar one, but Delsin (and by proxy, his voice actor Troy Baker), brings a fresh perspective on the whole ordeal, as he's wholly likable from the start of the game. Although he's thrown into the thick of things almost immediately, it feels like we already know him, and with a familial connection to his tribe, it's really easy to feel for him right off the bat.

Simply put, Delsin (a name which according to him, his Mom got from an old western) is much more interesting than the wooden Cole, and it's easier to become invested in his story as a result. We see everything from Delsin's enthusiastic perspective, which helps make things more interesting for us, the viewer, as a result. It helps that the power of the PS4 makes each character model look more convincing, and the voice acting and writing are easily the best Sucker Punch has ever produced.

But it's not just Delsin's story, as he shares the spotlight with his brother Reggie (a police officer that presents an interesting dichotomy of justice), a number of other interesting and equally gifted Conduits, and a villain fit to hate. I don't want to spoil anything, but there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the narrative, and while they aren't necessarily earth-shattering or mold-breaking, they work as intended and evoked an emotional reaction on more than one occasion. Everyone is perfectly casted, and gives it their all. If this is how Sucker Punch is going to create character-driven narratives from now on, I'm excited.

Second Son is also oozing with style beyond the interesting characters, as nearly every power or ability has some sort of elaborate on-screen effect when used. Every time Delsin levitates, flies through the air, or shoots a projectile, it looks just as cool as the impact, and it helps add to the allure of really playing as a superhero. He can also move through vents with the power of smoke, and eventually fly, which makes traversing the city more fun than ever before.

Combat is simplistic but it works like a charm, allowing Delsin to take command of both melee and ranged attacks, as well as modifications of both styles like stun grenades, rocket launcher-type ammo, super area-of-effect attacks, ground smashes, and more. His main weapon is a literally a chain caked in fire (haha, Kratos), which gets the job done. It helps that you get the majority of Delsin's flame powers within the first hour of the game, which really ups the pacing considerably. You'll eventually gain control of three distinct powers in all though, which can be switched at will by "sucking up" the appropriate source in the open world.

Delsin controls wonderfully for the most part, and Sucker Punch has even incorporated the Touch Pad on the DualShock 4 into some actions, including both regular old press motions and some swipes. Other than a set of jarring motion-controlled spray-can minigames (which are mostly optional), I have no real complaints with Second Son's near-flawless execution.

The "good or bad" karma system from past titles is still as shallow as ever, but it's not as ham-fisted as it was in the past. In Second Son there's less of an emphasis on moral choices outside of a few key moments (which actually impact the character's relationships), and more of a focus on having fun with a second set of powers. And that's what really matters to me -- more emphasis has been put on enjoying yourself.

Once everything is said and done you can redo the story again on the other side of the morality coin, or explore everything -- which will take quite some time beyond the roughly 10 to 15 hour story. Seattle is massive, and there are a ton of different "districts" to free from DUP jurisdiction, as well as new missions to find, enemies to fight, and blast shards to locate.

Said shards are actually a whole lot more fun to find now, as freeing up districts will help you locate them all on your map (thus serving a point to freeing everything), and the shards don't all just sit there -- you'll have to hunt down flying drones to get them all. It helps that the map is a sight to behold, and climbing up to the top of the Space Needle is definitely a "wow" moment.

Other than going for a full completion run and checking out the opposing powers, there are a few extras on the way in the form of a story called "Cole's Legacy" and the "Paper Trail" DLC series -- the latter of which will follow an online and in-game story arc. These don't factor into the review, but they are something to be aware of, and expect coverage on Paper Trail in the future.

Second Son is by far the best inFamous yet. If you're a fan of the series, then checking this one out is a no-brainer, and if you're not, consider jumping in with Delsin. You don't need any prior knowledge of the franchise to do so, and if you have any appreciation of open-world superhero games, you'll enjoy it.


9.5
inFamous: Second Son - Reviewed by Chris Carter

Entrancing - I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.


Get comment replies by email.     settings



Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our comment moderators

Can't see comments? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this. Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your security software's whitelist.


More inFamous: Second Son  updates:

review ( ! ) news ( 39 ) galleries ( 38 ) videos ( 38 )

It's been a year since inFamous: Second Son's release on the PlayStation 4, and to this day, it's one of my favorite games on the platform. Sony is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a few little tidbits, like ringtone...
It's five months later, and inFamous: Second Son is still one of my favorite games of the year. As a massive improvement in just about every facet of the franchise, I enjoyed seeing how Delsin's story played out, and as I slo...
With development on the standalone Infamous: First Light wrapping up, developer Sucker Punch has seen a round of layoffs. Sony confirmed in a statement to Eurogamer, "SCEE can confirm a reduction in workforce h...
Jack of all trades, master of none. Sure Delson from Infamous: Second Son has the ability to suck up other people's powers for his own, which is pretty cool in its own right. But those that just have one specific power to man...
Infamous: Second Son is ending its Paper Trail DLC run this week, and before people finish the final chapter and get disappointed, developer Sucker Punch has confirmed that there is no new "Paper Power" that's ...
Tomorrow's update for inFamous: Second Son will give players the option to turn off the game's heads-up display, cap the frame rate at 30 frames per second, and, after clearing the story, change the in-game time of day. But ...
I guess all that spray paint is appropriate for the game's "damn teens!" aesthetic, isn't that right smarmy main character with a jean vest, a beanie, tattoos, hoodie, and flannel? This is the "millennial" that Fox anchors check under the bed for every night.
InFamous: Second Son is good. Really good, in fact. And it seems as if a number of other people agree, as Sony has just sent word that the global sales of inFamous: Second Son have reached one million within nine da...
As detailed on the PlayStation Blog, Sucker Punch Productions has spoken about a few new features it will be adding to inFamous: Second Soon in the coming weeks based on fan feedback. It seems many of you requested the abilit...
As Chris mentioned in his review of inFamous: Second Son, Sucker Punch is expanding the core game with the Cole's Legacy and Paper Trail story arcs. The first of this content will be playable tomorrow as part of a day-one pat...