Gone are the days of Cole McGrath. He wasn't a bad character and looking around the in-game world of Seattle, there are certainly plenty of nods to him. But it's time for a new era, time for the youth of the world to take over, you know the stereotypical skater-boy who likes to wear a beanie hat and spray paint over things? Yes that's the one. His name is Delsin Rowe and he's always getting into trouble with the police, which in this case just happens to be his law enforcing brother.
We first meet Delsin in his home town, which is based just outside of Seattle. As usual he's up to trouble, trying to avoid his brother Reggie, just after we've help him graffiti over a billboard. Given that he has no special powers at this point, this is actually where one of the first interesting mechanics comes into the game, as you turn the controller on its side and shake the on-screen spray can. It's at this point you are met with some highly realistic sound effects through the DS4 speaker and proceed to spray onto the billboard. It's an interesting start to the game and while its only a little feature, the sheer realism of the sound effects really hit home.
Anyway, after causing trouble and a brief chat with his brother about breaking the law, it's soon obvious that this is not going to be a normal day. Basically, to cut a long story short, a bus crashes, Delsin helps an injured Conduit and upon touching him gains his smoke power, allowing him to dash through flames and eventually perform more powerful attacks. Given that most people are against these Bio-terrorists 'Conduits', Reggie is desperate to help his brother find a cure, while Delsin, who finds himself in a fight with the anti-Conduit organisation known as the D.U.P in events which follow, is desperate for revenge. So they make a plan and head to Seattle, where a whole new adventure awaits.
Soon upon arriving in Seattle you realise that it's going to be a straight on fight between you and the D.U.P, who have disrupted ordinary people's lives by taking control of the city. The foot soldiers of this organisation are everywhere and it's not long after arriving that Delsin finds himself in a fight, utilising his new powers to take down both the enemy and their mobile command units, which in turn helps wrestle back some control of the city to the people. Soon after taking out the first group of enemies Deslin realises that he is able to expand his current powers further, giving him a larger arsenal to take down the enemy.
As previously mentioned, Delsin can already dash through flames, however you'll soon discover so much more, such as his ability to fire a ranged smoke shot from his hand without having to aim, which gives combat a much more natural feel than in previous games in the series. There are other parts to the smoke power too, such as the explosive cinder missile, sulphur bomb and more. You can even make these abilities more powerful by collecting Blast Shards which are found throughout the city, either from freshly blown up mobile command units or from flying drones, which you are required to shoot down before absorbing.
What's so special about our hero is that he'll gain the powers of any Conduit he touches, so much of the main mission is spent chasing them down in order for him to grow powerful enough to gain his revenge on the D.U.P. Each time he gains a new power, off he'll go on a mission in order to improve his power further. Second Son is a little rinse and repeat in this respect, although it's the gaining of these new powers that really makes it feel like a completely different game.
Take the second power for instance, 'Neon.' Whereas before Delsin was using his smoke powers to dash up vents to rooftops or blast at the enemy, now the whole screen lights up with a neon powered glow as he fires his Stasis Bubble to trap enemies or shoots his neon beam, which flies across the screen with an impressive and devastating glow. It's hard to put into words how impressive the game looks as Delsin uses his light speed to traverse the city. It's almost like watching a time-lapse taking place before your very eyes. While the smoke power certainly has it uses in taking down the enemy, it's the neon power which lights up the game's graphical prowess and turns it from special into very special. I've never seen anything quite as spectacular as when our hero drains the life out of a neon sign in order to top up his powers - well I've seen one thing, but that happens later in the game when he gains his third power and I'm not going to spoil that surprise in this review.
Each mission in Second Son is glued together with some fantastic cutscenes which are well acted and presented. The story is hardly groundbreaking, however it's the way in which it's told, along with the visual presentation that will keep you hooked. It was always going to be difficult to tell a story, keep it flowing and provide players with an open world to explore, however I feel that Sucker Punch has got the balance right. During my play time I concentrated on completing the story, however there is a lot more to keep you occupied, such as side missions which have you hunt for D.U.P agents who are hidden in the crowd, or the fact that you have to try and wrestle control of the city back in order to initiate an 'Area Showdown,' which if completed will reward you with special, unlockable items.
Then there are the choices. Having powers isn't as cut out as if should be. You have got to decide. "Will I be selfish and use these powers for me," or "Will I be good and help everyone on my way." This is a choice that Delsin has to make throughout the game. You can take enemies down without mercy, you can put injured civilians out of their misery. Will you hinder the Conduits you have just defeated or will you help them and hope that they return the favour? You'll have to make your choices wisely as it will affect the course of the game. In this respect InFamous Second Son is certainly worth playing through twice. Once as good and the other as evil.
There is so much more I could tell you about Second Son, such as the fact that you can switch between all of your powers by absorbing the appropriate energy needed or I could tell you about the hidden powers and upgrades that you'll find along the way, but I would rather that you experience this for yourself. Nothing will prepare you for the graphics splendour that this game has on offer. It's full of eye bleeding secrets that will literally have you coming back for more.
InFamous Second Son is certainly the most impressive game I have played on PS4 so far. It shows plenty of qualities that would not have been possible on Sony's previous console and that's what I want for my money. Sucker Punch may often live in the shadows of Sony's other high profile studios, but with inFamous Second Son it is about to light up the world of gaming and in my opinion that's well deserved.
Words by Joe Anderson.
_@wotta | PSN/XBLA : wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Amazing graphical moments
+ Brilliant acting / cutscenes
+ Large open world to explore
+ Plenty of secret powers to unlock
+ Play through twice, once as good, once as evil
- Story is a little rinse and repeat
- AI a little dumb on rare occasions