A week has passed since the hugely successful and much anticipated launch of Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son on the Playstation 4, and in that week its been revealed that this game has helped increase the number of PS4 consoles being sold by over 100%. An impressive feat for a game that wasn’t exactly a massive seller on the PS3, but this is the first Playstation exclusive to be released since the underwhelming Killzone: Shadow Fall on the consoles release.
Second Son follows on from the story of the ‘good’ ending of Infamous 2; Cole McGrath is no more and as such a new protagonist is introduced into the series. This hero, or villain, depending on how you play is Delsin Rowe. Unlike Cole, Delsin revels in his new found powers and boy does he have some new powers to play with. He is not just confined to one set in this game; I wont give away any spoilers but there are more than the smoke and neon revealed in the pre-release trailers. The antagonist in this game goes by the name of Brooke Augustine, the head of the DUP soldiers you will find and fight around the city.
Sucker Punch have stuck to the basic mechanics of the previous two instalments in this series, as such this is once again set in an open world environment. This time though it is the real life location of Seattle that has been painstakingly brought to life, although sadly I have not yet been to Seattle so I can’t fully comment on how authentic this representation is. One thing for certain though is that this game looks incredible, graphically it is the best so far in showcasing the power available on the PS4. During my time playing through this game I have noticed no pop ups, no loading times and no screen tears while traversing every nook and cranny of this North West City.
The City has been amazingly brought to life in both day and night settings with the infamous (pardon the pun) damp climate of Seattle also included, showcasing some superb lighting effects as the sunlight bounces off of puddles on the ground. Again this is some amazing work and shows the studio’s attention to detail in creating an immersive, life like and most importantly fun world for Delsin to run or fly around in. I do have one drawback on the environment though, it does feel quite small and one thing that the game does lack is diversity, somewhat expected when basing it on a real life location but it has to be noted that this doesn’t have the size and diversity of Grand Theft Auto 5’s take on L.A. It’s not a huge problem but I was expecting a little more from a next-gen game.
The gameplay mechanics of Second Son are very similar to what we have experienced in the first two titles in the series. Your core moves are all there in the form of a melee attack, a ranged over the shoulder ‘shooting’ attack, a glide or flying power, a dash move as well as power specific special moves. Like before you have a power bar that decreases the more you use it and again, just like before, you have to replenish it by draining it from environment around you. All of these powers can be upgrading by collecting shards through out the map. Whilst this gameplay is proven and comfortable to use it does feel like another opportunity missed to make use of the new hardware available. There are a few uses for the PS4’s touch pad and hearing the controller as you use it like a spray can is a nice touch but there is nothing ground breaking.
Switching between the various different powers is for me well handled, you don’t use the directional pad to flick between them – instead you can only have one active at once. Want to use Neon instead of Smoke? Then you had best find a neon sign and lose your smoke. I personally thought this was a great method of making the player think before entering into a battle. This limitation also made me spread out my upgrades across all of the powers instead of maxing out one in particular as certain parts of the city have more plentiful sources of specific powers than others. The action in the game is well handled with you feeling like a superhero and all of the powers are well balanced no one in particular feels too weak or too strong.
The method of upgrading in the game is handled as mentioned before by collecting shards. Some of these shards are collected whilst progressing through the story but if you are wanting to fully upgrade your powers then you have to go out and find them, and this for me felt a bit like a grind. Each section of the city can be cleared of DUP mobile vehicles and guard posts, and by doing this you can then collect shards from the broken equipment. Each area plays the same though: you have to find cameras to destroy, checkpoints to destroy and soldiers to bring down. Once you have done this a couple of times you realise that there is no variety, the camps and enemies just seem to get stronger and take more hits. The parkour that Delsin uses to traverse the environment too seems a little off, he feels incredibly light and twitchy when climbing a building, a few times I grew frustrated as he would just keep jumping instead of grabbing a clearly visible ledge. Also while the weather changes in the world these don’t seem to impact on Delsin, he looks the same in the rain as he does in the sun looking as though at times he is on top of the world not a part of it. A real shame as everything else in this game is visually stunning.
The story in Second Son is a fun one, I felt it was on a par with the quality of the previous titles in the series. In a similar way to those earlier titles you do have partner, this time Delsins brother Reggie who is the local sheriff of the town they originally come from. On your quest for more power and abilities you meet other ‘conduits’ who have distinct personalities linked to their specific powers. Karma is again a big part of this game, and like the previous titles you will get select areas of the game where you are faced with either a good or evil option that can help unlock karma specific powers. I was hoping for more development of the karma but it does play through in the same manner as it has previously. There are no branching levels to go down or grey areas where the direction of your choice may not be straight forward. It really does play out in Red or Blue options and once again I feel like this is an opportunity missed to introduce something complex and diverse to a key mechanic of the series.
Sucker Punch have created a game that is really fun and entertaining to play through, the good and evil routes do not change the story too much but they do change the powers you can unlock so it is nice to compare them on a second play through. It felt slightly shorter than Infamous 2 but that may have been due to the lack of interesting side missions and my avoidance of grinding through repetitive sections to collect more shards.
Second Son is very much Infamous refined; it is not a revolution. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but it does feel like an opportunity missed for Sucker Punch to really show off what can be done with the power of the PS4. Graphically it is incredible and if you want to show off what the PS4 can do visually then this is the game you need to own. All of the cut scenes, character and facial animations are superb and enhance the developers eye for detail on this front. I would highly recommend you play though this game simply because it’s enjoyable and fun, sadly though whilst it looks very much next-gen the gameplay is still stuck in the last.
Reviewed on PS4