I’m going to go on record right from the beginning here and admit that this won’t be the most prolific of game reviews covering PlayStation 4’s newly released inFAMOUS: Second Son, but it’s better than having no coverage at all like some sites that profess to having gaming reviews, right? Such grandeur efforts of game reviews are far better off left for our resident experts like Aaron Neuwirth or Gregg Senko, whom I hope to see back here representing one day soon. But for now, you’re just going to have to accept this quick review as the authority around here. And if not for the encouragement of Aaron Neuwirth on how good he believed this game was going to be, I honestly would not be sitting here writing this as I initially had no plans to play this one. Thankfully, I’m glad Aaron’s plug and affinity over this franchise persuaded me to give it a try. As I’m sitting here typing this, my girlfriend has been playing it for better part of more than 4 hours this morning alone and let me tell you from firsthand experience…the neon powers change everything in this game…once you make it to that point that is.
While I have not played this game’s predecessors, truth be told, this is actually the third entry in the franchise if you’re keeping score and thankfully a Sony PlayStation 4 exclusive. To be completely honest with you, I don’t think you’re missing out on anything by not having played the previous two PlayStation 3 installments. And from what I have read thus far on the subject, this one has addressed, conquered and laid to waste all the weaknesses the first two in the series had. I guess like the fourth Transformers film is being billed, you could call inFAMOUS: Second Son more of a reboot of the inFAMOUS franchise rather than a complete remake as it keeps the same congruent story lines intact from the first two ones involving the D.U.P. (Department of Unified Protection), but this time out you are playing as a different main character, Delsin instead of Cole MacGrath (the Limited Edition of this game gives you a special download code where you can play extra missions set in-between inFAMOUS 2 and this one to collect Cole’s legacy in-game jacket he wore).
The first thing you will notice upon insertion of this Blu-ray disc into your PS4, besides the 22GB install it puts on your hard drive, are the beautiful graphics and scenery of Seattle, birthplace of my favorite musical genre, grunge (as evident from a personal screenshot I took while playing found here). Now even though the grunge musical scene is my favorite, for some reason or another I have never made it up to Seattle. Maybe it’s the rain, maybe it’s the heroin problems they have up there or maybe it’s even the Seattle Seahawks who embarrassed my Denver Broncos, nevertheless, after playing this game I felt like I have been there. Sucker Punch Productions does an outstanding job of recreating and rendering downtown Seattle and once you make it to the top of the Space Needle and check out the sites for yourself I think you will agree (you might even experience some vertigo too). Yes siree bob, this game and its sites are the very reason Sony put the Share button on the DualShock 4 controllers. One little tip I would like to share with you all is if you are playing with your PS4 hooked up to a home theater system, make sure you take a few seconds and press the Options button on your controller and then triangle to bring up the audio preferences. It will be defaulted to TV Speakers. Change that to Home Theater to strip away the compression of the 5.1 audio track. Your HTS will thank you as things sound riveting here. Other than that there’s only a small Day 1 update file that will download in the background that supposedly adds hours to the game play here. And if you want to talk runtime, I heard the rumor on the street puts it anywhere from 12-16 hours of continuos gameplay, but I have a feeling that’s pretty much gauged for hardcore video gaming veterans, not amateurs like myself. There are also additional missions available via infamouspapertrail.com.
The gameplay is typical of many third-person point-of-view action adventures. Think the functional feel and play of last year’s Tomb Raider (my favorite next-gen title so far on PS4 despite it basically just being an advanced port), and you have inFAMOUS: Second Son. Now that’s not to say it’s the same. I’m just giving you a basic feel so you know what the controls are like going in. However, unlike Lara Croft’s exciting bow moments, I have some difficulty with my aim in this game. I’m sure as I spend more time with it I’ll pick it up better, but rest assured it’s nothing like the clumsiness of a first-person point-of-view shooter like my beloved Call of Duty: Ghosts, which I cherish so much, but suck equally the same. LOL. As I mentioned prior, the basic game play gets amped up to the next level once you inherit neon powers and the ability to run up walls as opposed to mad dashes, smoky sprints and jumps early on in the game. And that’s just it. This is a game about physics as much as it is showing off what you can expect from future next-gen titles on the PS4 console. It’s all about the power baby and the question of can you harness it. Like the Tomb Raider adventure series there’s plenty of puzzles and strategic moments to keep you challenged here as well as some difficult foes to face against, at least for a newbie gamer like myself, but perhaps one of the most striking features of the game are the camera controls. Think about what if you could look with your eyes and decide to run to the right or climb to the top of the Space Needle and look down. One day in the near future technology will allow you to do so, but for now the right analog stick on the controller is your best friend. I watched a slew of making of videos over the past week and the fine amount of detail that went into rendering a true-to-life realistic looking Seattle and believe you me, Sucker Punch delivers unlike the film of the same name. And what can I say about the cut scenes? They are probably some of the best CG motion capture ever in a video game. Heck! You may even forget you’re playing a game they look so real as does the fluidity in the onscreen action as you roam the streets of downtown Seattle in a GTA-like fashion. You may not even notice the difference between the two sometimes.
So now that I gave you all a brief taste of what to expect from the game itself, last but not least, let’s talk about the all important story line for without it how could we ever have a game to play, right? Right! It all goes a little something like this. In the previous games, Cole MacGrath’s actions in New Marias set in motion a chain of events leading to the now forceful occupation of Seattle by the oppressive D.U.P. here in inFAMOUS: Second Son. Delsin Rowe, our hero we control here, has recently discovered his superhuman power and along with the help of his law enforcement brother and fellow conduits along the way (as he sucks the powers out of them) he is now capable of fighting back against the D.U.P., but most importantly he just wants to save his friends back home. The unique thing about it, and it can be a hit or miss depending upon how you feel about it, is that fact that Sucker Punch allows you to enjoy your power as you choose how you will push your awesome abilities to the limit and witness the consequences of your actions as they affect the city and people around you. In other words you have choices in this game referred to as good “blue” karma and negative “red” karma. Don’t worry. It will all make sense in the first fifteen minutes or so of gameplay. So basically we have a new origin story in an open world that allows you to experience what it must feel like to be a real-life superhuman. And if everything above does not persuade you, there’s no way you can say no to the trailer below set to Dead Sara’s most excellent cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.”