Delsin is a dick…..well, that’s what I thought anyway. Before I had even played InFamous: Second Son, I had decided that Delsin Rowe was an ass clown and that he’d go a long way towards ruining what was one of my favourite series of the last generation.
Turns out I was wrong. Sure, his brand of boyish charm can be a little annoying sometimes, but for the most part, not only did I not actively dislike Delsin, but right from the off, I actually found him rather charismatic. More importantly though, I found him fun.
One of the biggest criticisms aimed towards the previous releases in Sucker Punch’s, InFamous saga was just how bleedin’ miserable protagonist, Cole MacGrath was. Yeah, killing loads of people is kind of depressing and stuff, but come on dude; shooting electricity from your hands ala Emperor Palpatine is pretty damn sweet. Personally, I never really had a problem with him, but equally, I was never what you might call a huge fan either. He was fine – he kept the action ticking along, but honestly, in the case of InFamous, I was always in it more for the gameplay than the story.
In fairness, Second Son’s story isn’t exactly ground breaking either, but thanks to some solid characterisation and a handful of very impressive performances, I found myself dragged far deeper into Sucker Punch’s world than I had been for the previous two releases. Delsin’s contagiously positive attitude made the core gameplay and new abilities much more enjoyable while the criminally underused big bad of the piece, Brooke Augustine delivers a disturbingly effective, Nurse Ratched like performance as the head of the D.U.P. She isn’t in the game as much as I would have liked, but her appearances (ones that largely bookend the story) are both dramatic and memorable.
Of course, said performances are helped no end by the truly remarkable facial animations on display and some of the finest graphics yet seen on current-gen consoles. While the visuals during gameplay never quite match those of the brilliantly shot and fantastically acted cut-scenes, Second Son nonetheless stands as one of the best looking games currently available on PS4.
It’s a shame then that the city of Seattle, while certainly not lacking in appeal, is still lacking in the kind of memorable locations that can make a game as technically impressive as this really stand out from the crowd. It’s a pleasant enough place and cleansing each district of those dastardly D.U.P. forces is a cathartic experience, but there are few locations or districts that truly stick in the mind. In a post GTA V world, everything here just feels a little samey.
Speaking of ‘samey’, the same could be said of the gameplay. While the new abilities do breathe fresh life into the experience, Second Son still feels a little too similar to its predecessors. Get past the pretty visuals, and this is essentially the same game you have played twice before, only with better characters and a handful of new abilities.
The combat, the movement, it all feels almost exactly the same as it always has. That might sound like a criticism, but I’ve always enjoyed the balance of power and freedom of movement in the InFamous games and the same is true here. Scaling buildings, taking down bad guys, it’s all enjoyable stuff with both movement and attacks fixed at a level that make you feel powerful and vulnerable in equal measures.
The new abilities, while fundamentally quite similar to each other all look fantastic (showing off those particle effects everyone is banging on about), and while they do little to mix up the combat, they do offer unique ways in which to traverse the city – which is, as always, extremely enjoyable. The only thing I would say is that each new power is so clearly superior to the last (in terms of movement at least), that once you upgrade it, there is little reason to return to the previously unlocked abilities.
Despite the karma system failing to evolve in any meaningful way since the last release and the array of collectibles and side missions as unimaginative as they have always been, that didn’t stop me from relentlessly completing every side mission and collecting every shard on my way to becoming a ‘True Hero’ (I just can’t bring myself to be evil). The structure has seen little change, but there is still something about the karma and upgrade system of the InFamous series that I find oddly absorbing.
I’m not usually a completionist, but I felt utterly compelled to collect everything the game had to offer and to clear every single district of D.U.P. forces. It may sound odd, but the simple fact that it was doable, made it a surprisingly appealing prospect – it’s certainly something Ubisoft could learn from. As much as I enjoyed the world of say, Assassin’s Creed IV, it simply had far too many collectibles. It would have taken me absolutely ages to collect everything in its world whereas here, while still a challenge, was something I could potentially achieve without having to quit my job or divorce my wife.
InFamous: Second Son has one foot in the future but the other stuck firmly in the past. Visually, it’s utterly gorgeous and, while never less than fun to play, is far too similar to previous releases in the series. The new powers are certainly entertaining and the memorable cast go a long way towards making this the most enjoyable game in the series to date, but the fact remains; for better and for worse, Second Son is just another InFamous game. As a fan, that’s absolutely fine with me, but be warned, pretty visuals aside, there is very little here that differentiates Second Son from its predecessors.
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