By Tyler Lubben / March 28th, 2014
|Title||inFAMOUS: Second Son
|Developer||Sucker Punch Productions|
|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release Date||March 21, 2014|
|Age Rating||ESRB- Teen|
It’s no secret that I have been looking forward to inFAMOUS: Second Son pretty much since it was announced at E3 last year. It’s one of my favorite Sony franchises, and, as I’ve said in the past, I was surprised, but pleased just to see another installment in the franchise after how the previous game ended. With some amazing pre-release screenshots and a strong-looking voice cast, Second Son looks to have a lot of promise. However, looking pretty is one thing, but how does the game deliver as a complete package? Plus, with a completely new story, Sucker Punch is basically starting from square one again. So, let’s dive in and see if lightning (oops, I guess it’s smoke now) can strike yet again.
Considering that Second Son follows the canon of the good ending for inFAMOUS 2, the series’ previous star, Cole MacGrath is, shall we say… indisposed. As such, this new entry sees the introduction of a brand new leading man, Delsin Rowe – a small-town delinquent who spends his time tagging public property. Delsin’s older brother, Reggie, is the local sheriff, and is greatly ashamed of the direction in which Delsin’s life is going. In the seven years since the events of inFAMOUS 2, many people have come to fear the super powered beings known as “Conduits.” It is the job of a government organization known as the Department of Unified Protection (DUP) to round up any and all suspected Conduits, now labeled as “Bio-terrorists,” and separate them from society. It is against this backdrop that a bus transporting three Bio-terrorists suddenly crashes near Delsin’s home, which he and his brother go to investigate.
By the time Delsin and Reggie arrive on the scene, two of the Conduits are already long-gone, but the third is trapped under some debris. After freeing him, Delsin is taken hostage as Reggie pulls his gun on the strange man. Early previews of the game imply that Delsin’s Conduit power is the ability to control smoke. However, this is not exactly right. His true power is the ability to absorb the powers of any Conduit with whom he comes in direct physical contact, sort of like X-Men’s Rogue, though with the original Conduit’s power still intact. It is in this way that, while trying to free himself from his captor, Delsin receives the man’s Smoke power. After the escapee gets away, DUP forces, led by a Conduit named Brooke Augustine, arrive to contain the situation. Augustine interrogates Delsin on what happened, but, unsatisfied with his response, decides to turn her Concrete power on his people. After the incident, Delsin awakens to find many people have been left deformed by Augustine’s concrete. When told that it is impossible to remove the concrete through conventional means, and that his people will die if nothing is done, Delsin decides to travel to Seattle, with Reggie in tow, to confront Augustine and acquire her Concrete power to save his loved ones back home.
In terms of gameplay, there aren’t that many differences between Delsin’s Smoke power and Cole’s Lightning. Delsin can shoot small balls smoke to deal nominal damage, as well as a charged shotgun-like Cinder Blast for close-quarters combat, both of which eat up his Smoke meter. More powerful Cinder Missiles can also be fired, though these should be used sparingly as they use up one of Delsin’s missile count. Delsin also wears a chain on his arm that he uses as a melee weapon for a strong three-hit combo. If players receive too much damage during combat, they can either hide for a short time to regenerate health, or they can drain any source of smoke – damaged vehicles, smoke stacks, enemy smoke grenades – to instantly heal up, as well as refill their Smoke meter and missile count. One of the coolest new features is Delsin’s Smoke Dash ability. Throughout Seattle, many buildings have air vents that, when dashed into, shoot Delsin’s smoke form straight out of the top building’s chimney, allowing him to avoid climbing up the old-fashioned way.
Despite the urgent tones of Delsin’s mission, don’t let that detract from what the game is really about: treating the city as your own personal playground. Seattle has no shortage of tall buildings, and, since you suffer no damage from long falls, you can climb all over with reckless abandon. Given Delsin’s unique power, it won’t be too long before you start taking on new skills from other Conduits you meet. I won’t give too much away, but you’ll acquire three other (rather outside-the-box) powers on top of Smoke throughout the course of the game (you can probably guess them all by the end of the tutorial). I’ll stick with pre-release information and only mention Neon, which you acquire fairly early on from a young woman named Fetch. I found this power incredibly useful, if not just because it made me more mobile than ever before. Neon gives Delsin a Light Speed running ability that lets him zip around the city and up the sides of buildings in ways that Cole could only dream of. It’s even better once you’ve bought an upgrade to do this indefinitely, making traversing the city a breeze. Plus, with a shooting ability not unlike sniping, taking down enemies is much easier by aiming at certain weak points on their bodies.
So, besides playing the main story and being a parkour genius, what is there to do in Seattle? DUP forces have pretty well locked down the city, with patrols, vehicle checkpoints and command centers being found all over the Seattle’s 13 districts. You’ll want to disrupt the DUP’s activities wherever possible, as doing so usually yields Blast Shards. These are needed to buy upgrade for your various powers. You can access the upgrade screen at any time from the pause screen. Blast Shards are usually hidden from view on the map, but destroying the command center in any given district will reveal all shards in that section of the map. Also, certain upgrades are only open to you if you’re playing as a good or evil character, so it’s important to watch your actions as you play. Sadly, the game is a little light on side content. Yes, you have your run of Seattle to kick the DUP out of the city, but, unlike previous games, sidequests are nearly non-existent. The only quests that don’t involve directly fighting the DUP have you looking for hidden cameras, files or DUP agents trying to blend in with the public. Sadly, this means that the game is a bit on the short side. In the end, it took me around 10 hours to complete the main story. I have yet to completely rout the DUP from Seattle, but I don’t see that taking more than a few more hours. At least the game’s combat makes up for its lack of side content.
So, if all you have to do for fun in the game to have fun is fight, how do the enemies you’ll be taking on stack up? Initially, Delsin will do battle with standard gun-toting DUP troopers, but will quickly take on stronger enemies whom have received some of Augustine’s Concrete abilities. Many of them use this as armor, though the more powerful ones can spray Delsin with rocks, or shield themselves and others from his attacks for a short time. The strongest of these are incredibly dangerous, with the power, speed and defensive capabilities to really lay the hurt on players who aren’t careful. While the variety of standard enemies is all right, the amount of boss battles is a bit lacking, with the total number being counted on one hand. However, this is not new to the inFAMOUS series, and makes the battles – often against huge enemies – great set pieces between the small skirmishes that make up the rest of the game.
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