REVIEW: inFAMOUS: Second Son (PS4)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
  • Sony PlayStation 4 / Rated T / $59.99 / released March 2014
  • FINAL: You WANT this game. 4 out of 5 stars

inFAMOUS: Second Son” does a soft reboot on the “inFAMOUS” franchise, making it a perfect gateway title for the new PlayStation 4. The super-hero adventure lets players choose between using powers for good or evil, with the story changing in subtle ways depending on the selected path. “Second Son” does a fabulous job at showing off the PS4’s own power in rendering a virtual Seattle, but the game suffers from an oddly compressed script.

While getting into minor league trouble with his Native American community just outside of Seattle (He spray paints graffiti! He breaks-and-enters!), Delsin Rowe unexpectedly inherits smoke-based super-powers from an escaped convict. In the world of “inFAMOUS,” the U.S. Government has clamped down on super-powered “conduits,” locking them away and fomenting public distrust by labeling them all “bio-terrorists.” When Lt. Col. Brooke Augustine, herself a conduit, threatens Delsin’s friends over his interaction with the criminal, Delsin vows to bring her down.

Assisted by his police officer brother, Delsin chases Augustine to Seattle only to find the entire city is on lockdown. While average citizens still roam the streets, the city is dotted with anti-conduit checkpoints and roving patrols of armed guards. Between storyline missions, you are free to bust up government forces, spray paint revolutionary sentiments on walls and hunt down flying drones that contain power-up energy sources. The Seattle of “Second Son” is gorgeously presented, including many accurate local landmarks like the famous Space Needle.

The game also displays great chops in facial animation and voice acting, combined here to present some of the most believable virtual acting gaming has yet seen. The dialogue in the story scenes is fun – Delsin being a post-teen slacker gives him a smart-alecky Spider-Man vibe – but there is often very little development outside of those scenes to properly connect the dots. Characters will meet for the first time and become fast friends five minutes later, for example. A single playthrough of “Second Son” is not terribly long, so there’s a rushed feeling behind the entire plot.

Now, it’s no bad thing that “Second Son” does not overstay its welcome with unecessary padding. The length just unfortunately underlines the choppy story.

Delsin’s smoke powers grant him abilities like traveling through air vents and shooting embers at enemies, but the game does not stop with just smoke. As the story progresses, you’ll add several other power sets to Delsin’s arsenal. They are not all based on elements, which is an unexpected twist. However, the flip side of that is that the other powers are all mostly identical in function, aside from the eye-popping visuals and slight differences in how they allow Delsin to fly across the city.

Second Son” also has a set of free downloadable bonus missions that extend the game into your real world. These “Paper Trail” missions begin with murder scene investigations that ask you to solve crime clues on the “inFAMOUS” website. Completing these tasks on your PC or tablet will unlock a mission back in the game, and so on. “Paper Trail” is a clever way to further immerse yourself in the “inFAMOUS” world.

inFAMOUS: Second Son” does a marvelous job of giving you a varied slate of super-powers and a convincing Seattle toy box to protect (or wreck!) The game is a showstopper for PlayStation 4 owners and is absolutely worth playing twice to see both versions of Delsin’s story.

This review is based on product supplied by the publisher. Image courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America.