“Infamous: Second Son” Review: Next-Gen Graphics, Old-Gen Gameplay

On March 21st, Sony CE and Sucker Punch Productions released Infamous: Second Son, the first PlayStation 4 exclusive. Having only AC: Black Flag and free downloadable indie games like Don’t Starve to keep my attention, I have to admit, I was eager to finally play something specifically made for the PS4. I was hoping to, at least, get a hint at what new and interesting game play doors could be opened by a next-gen system. This, however, was not the case.

Was it an insanely smooth play? Yes.

Was the face capturing tech used for the voice actors impressive? Allowing for some pretty realistic cut scenes? Yes.

Was it clear the developers were forced to integrate the unique PS4 controller into the game, resulting in some clunky side activities, like the one where you’re forced to pretend your controller is a spray can? Yes.

But most importantly: Was it that much different from the first two installments in the franchise or any of its Prototype counterparts? Nope.

I suppose you could argue that with this kind of third-person sandbox game, you are always going to get the same thing. But I was looking forward to the next evolutionary step. I was hoping the first PS4 exclusive would blow my mind. The way Max Payne did for the Playstation 2. Sure, it wasn’t a PS2 exclusive, but it was, however, the first game I bought for the system, and it most definitely blew my mind (at the time). What that game did was take advantage of the capabilities of the next gen systems. The “bullet time” live action sequences and the immersive story line (interrupting bad guy dialog with a flurry of bullets) was something that could only have been capable on a next-gen system. What I was looking forward to was just that. Not a bloody third-person shooter of course, but something that could only be possible on the PS4. Instead I played something that is honestly no different from any of the third-person hack-and-slash sandbox games. Don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty unique powers which make it fun to play at first, but isn’t long before it gets repetitive. And for me once it gets boring, it doesn’t matter how amazing the graphics are. But if you’re a completionist and you loved the first two Infamous games, and the Prototypes, then you will undoubtedly love Second Son.

You play as Delson, a punk kid with a heart of gold. A member of the Akomish tribe in Washington. Delson is also a graffiti artist, and like the protagonist of the past games, he’s a Conduit (a person with the ability to produce an elemental power) Delson, however, has the ability to absorb the power of other Conduits. Something he discovers when he absorbs the power of smoke (fire really) from a Conduit Convict he pulls out of a prison van wreck. Delson goes through the game absorbing several other powers. Neon, Video, and eventually Concrete. In order to use each power he must first drain them from their individual sources. Neon from a Neon sign, and smoke from basically anything you’ve destroyed, and so on. Each power has it’s own unique form of interactive travel, allowing you to scale buildings and traverse the city. And what an intricate city it is. Filled with color and detail, the city is alive. Sucker Punch productions has been hailed for making an environment pretty accurate to Seattle. All in all it would be pretty hard to find a flaw in the game design.

But what about the game play? Yes it was a sight to behold, but graphics alone can’t keep a game interesting through 11 hours of game play.

The main story line only accounts for about 5-6 hours of play time. But thanks to the day-one patch there’s about 5 additional hours of game play including the first mission in the Paper Trail DLC which is supposed to be released in episodic pieces. So there’s plenty of objects and Conduits to hack-n-slash right up to the very end. Oh and don’t forget, if you feel like being a huge D-Bag, you can always replay the game from an opposing karmic stand point.

However, to delve into any of these aspects the game has to keep your attention. For this gamer, Infamous: Second Son, just didn’t do it.If I had to rate it I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10. It’s an average game with absolutely fantastic graphics.

So bring on the future release of Destiny! Maybe we’ll finally get a demonstration of some next-gen power through an MMO. But until then, we’ll just have to settle with the awesomeness that is, Don’t Starve.


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