By Tyler Lubben / March 28th, 2014
Aside from the big moral choices you’ll be making as the story plays out, the map is also littered with opportunities to be more heroic or evil. For example, good actions would entail breaking up groups of drug dealers or protecting suspected Conduits being held by the DUP. Alternatively, you can wipe out anti-Conduit protests or terrorize street musicians and other annoying people to become more evil. Even the way you fight will have an effect on your moral standing. Using attacks that will outright kill targets in violent or cruel ways will increase Delsin’s evil rating, while using attacks that subdue targets without killing them will increase his goodness. This is especially interesting because it’s just slightly easier to be evil than good. Not that you’re encouraged to do so, but taking the easy route, like consistently taking headshots to instantly disintegrate DUP troopers with Neon shots, or going all out regardless of innocent bystanders, will go a long way to sending you down the evil path.
One of the most entertaining new features in Second Son is the ability to tag various pieces of public property with imagery that either inspires fear or harmony in the public. The game has players hold the controller sideways like a spray can, shake it, then paint on various stencils to make some amusing and inspired artwork. All this does is give you some free good or evil points – based on which art you chose to put up – but it’s still nice to brighten the environment that much more with some cool-looking art.
Much like my Metal Gear Solid V review, I feel I must make special mention of Second Son’s graphics. Yes, visuals aren’t the end-all, be-all of a game, but this is still the beginning of the PS4’s life cycle, and hot damn do the games coming out lately look good. I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but, until then, I’ll be over here drooling. Second Son’s graphics are obscenely beautiful, and I was incredibly impressed with just about everything the game has to offer the eyes. From the particle effects of your various powers to the realistic lighting and shadow effects to hi-res textures of the environments, everything in the game is a treat to look at. A friend of mine who watched me play was particularly struck with how realistic the puddles from the rain looked. Plus, there was a crazy amount of detail put into the character models, especially their facial features. Character faces run a full range of emotions, and subtle changes like raised eyebrows and smirks make them look more believable and real than we’re usually used to. I thought it was almost as good as the facial capture technology seen in LA Noire, though my friend said it was even better than that. So, I guess I’ll leave that one up for debate.
Honestly, Delsin’s mission in Seattle is decidedly… shallow. His sole purpose for being there is simply to gain Augustine’s Concrete power so he can save his people. As such, with such a simple plot, the only way to keep things from getting dull is to make the story more character-driven. So, was Second Son able to deliver in this respect? The answer is a loud and resounding YES! The entire cast was incredibly strong, with some tight writing that was equal parts exciting, funny and heartfelt. Troy Baker, who lends his immense voicing talents for Delsin’s character, gives one of his strongest performances ever as the snarky, but resolved hero. Fetch, Augustine and the game’s other main characters give memorable performances, as well, but the real meat is the interactions between Delsin and Reggie. For as defiant as Delsin was to Reggie in the game’s opening scenes, the instant he started wrestling with the terror of his Smoke powers, he called out to Reggie for help. In a world that has stigmatized Conduits for years, Reggie is torn between his fear and hatred of Bio-terrorists, and his love towards his brother. There’s a deep affection between the brothers beneath all the grief they give each other. Additionally, some of the game’s funniest moments come from the repartee between the two.
While, for me, Delsin and Reggie’s interactions were certainly the main draw of the story, I would have liked it if the supporting cast was just a bit more present. Conduits, like Fetch, are only really around for the small portions of the story where Delsin is learning to use their powers. You might get the odd phone call from them, but, other than that, you generally won’t be seeing them for most of the story. While they seem to have a good rapport with Delsin himself, the Conduits he meets hardly ever acknowledge each other’s existence, despite the fact that they were being transported together during the game’s opening, and are now working together to help Delsin reach his goal. This is especially bothersome when something like Eugene telling Delsin about being interested in Fetch never comes to any kind of fruition. It just seems like a missed opportunity to add another layer to the already great story.
Now, I’m just an old man in his late 20s, so I don’t really listen to this “rock and roll” music that the young ‘uns like these days. That said, the soundtrack worked extremely well for Second Son. As Delsin is a bit of a punk, having a punk rock soundtrack to accompany fights against DUP forces is quite appropriate. Not only that, but there’s a good variety of tracks that play during combat, so you won’t get tired of hearing the same one track over and over as you might in other action titles.
inFAMOUS: Second Son may have a new hero with new powers, but it did a fantastic job of living up to its predecessors. The game might have been a bit shorter than I would have liked, and it’s a little light on the side content, but the core gameplay and cast more than make up for it. Plus, I still need to play through again to get the evil ending for the full experience. Sure, there are longer games out there, but with such a well-crafted and memorable experience, it’s more than worth the $60 price tag. Delsin is a great new hero for the series, and, though they didn’t really leave an opening for a sequel in the game’s final moments, I’ve already been surprised once before. I sincerely hope that we’ll be seeing more of him, and this series, in the future.
Game purchased by the reviewer.
inFAMOUS: Second Son is available on Amazon:
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