Aren’t superpowers the best? Being able to travel at insane speeds, jump higher than even the tallest buildings and take down your foes with a flurry of different abilities is something that will never get old. The inFamous series is one of the best examples of imbuing you with powers and letting you run wild with them, providing a thrill ride that few games can rival. The newest title in the series, inFamous: Second Son, presents you with a new setting, protagonist and plenty of new powers to play with, yet it all feels oddly familiar.
Second Son follows Delsin Rowe, a delinquent with a love of graffiti and sticking it to the man, who suddenly finds himself with some strange new abilities after a run in with an escaped Conduit, a person gifted with powers. The problem? The world hates Conduits, referring to them as “bio-terrorists” and condemning them to be imprisoned for life by the D.U.P., a shady organization. Eventually, Delsin finds himself in Seattle, one of the home bases of this organization, to discover the truth behind their schemes while also gaining some new abilities. Second Son’s plot isn’t too complex, but it presents us with a likable cast and some amazing moments along the way.
Like in previous inFamous games, the story isn’t completely pre-determined; you can shape events through major moral decisions throughout the game’s story missions. This will both determine how characters react to you and also the ending as a whole. It’s unfortunate that, despite how far we’ve come with moral choices in games, Second Son still sticks with the same “angelic good” or “chaotic evil” approach. Sure, it’s heavily-inspired by comic books, in which good and evil are distinct and never in alignment, but that doesn’t excuse just how corny and out-of-place these decisions feel in the grand scheme of things.
Once you actually get into the game, you’ll immediately notice how incredible it all looks. Seattle, the game’s main hub, is visually stunning, as are the various powers you unlock. Even the character models themselves, including some amazing little details with eyes and fingers, stand out compared to other titles. It doesn’t demonstrate a gigantic leap forward from the previous games, but it does improve on enough, both big and small, to leave an impact.
What’s a game about a super-powered human without the actual powers? Unlike the first two games which focused specifically on one or two elemental powers, Second Son gives you four different sets to experiment with. While the last one doesn’t unlock until you finish the story, the first three offer you some alternatives to the abilities from the previous titles. Best of all, the sense of speed and verticality created with some of these powers is outstanding, and rivals the best superhero games around. When a game can make the simple act of traveling around an open world so enjoyable you never want to stop doing it, it’s done something right.
The game’s combat, which focuses heavily on long-range attacks (almost like a third-person shooter), will feel familiar to those who have played the first two. It all still plays brilliantly, and being able to mix it up with different sets of abilities changes things up enough from the last two games. The gameplay isn’t dramatically different, but it’s all still as excellent as ever.
The one major problem, however, is the lack of variety in the powers. That might not make sense considering I said there are four distinct elements, but despite some small differences, there isn’t enough differentiating them. Sure, one group of powers allows you to run faster while another is better for long-range attacks, but you can just use one of the three main power sets and never have to switch (outside of required story moments). These abilities also don’t feel too dissimilar from previous games, which is the biggest disappointment of them all.
Seattle is a big place and, as you would expect from an open-world game, there are a number of side activities to complete. You can destroy enemy bases to unlock fast travel points, take down secret D.U.P. agents, find audio logs and even create some graffiti. There are also a large number of blast shards, the series’ trademark collectible, to find scattered throughout the city. Believe it or not, tracking them down is actually fun this time around. Not only do they show up on the map, they are even used to upgrade your powers and unlock new ones, giving you no excuse to avoid collecting them.
The side activities are a nice distraction and the main story missions are mostly fantastic, but, like with the powers themselves, there is a huge lack of variety in Second Son. Seattle itself feels full of potential and simply exploring the city never gets old, but I was able to complete every side activity without much trouble and many of them get repetitive after a while.
There is a lot to love about inFamous: Second Son. It features the best storyline in the series so far, it has an interesting and diverse cast of characters and the powers are genuinely amazing to use in almost any situation. The lack of variety in both the side activities and the powers themselves is a disappointment, sure, but even with that in mind you are still left with another great game in an excellent series.
Pros: Compelling story, great new abilities, fantastic visuals
Cons: Laughably bad moral decisions, huge lack of variety