The Infamous series is a franchise that’s usually been on the fence with most gamers; some people really love it’s interesting approach to the superhero genre while others think it’s a bland, uninspired attempt. Sucker Punch, however, has set out with Infamous: Second Son to cement the franchise as a remarkable gameplay experience. They’ve bumped it up to the next-gen Playstation 4 platform and showcase the potential of the series. Infamous Second Son is an ambitious title, one that brings the series to new heights and new possibilities, and in this reviewer’s opinion, they’ve exceeded expectation.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
Infamous: Second Son’s story is pretty straightforward and a bit cliché, playing off the old “superhero learns responsibility” trope, but it’s the characters that really shine. The relationship between Delsin and Reggie, the Rowe brothers who are at the center of the story, is superbly done. I found myself invested in their interactions and motivations, laughing at their humorous back-and-forths and being immersed during the dire moments. The dialogue and voice acting here is the key element to note; Troy Baker, Travis Willingham and Lauren Bailey and a majority of the cast play off each other well and really sell the already organic dialogue that flows naturally from line to line.
The graphics of Infamous: Second Son are extraordinary and act as an excellent example of the Playstation 4’s capabilities and potential. Lighting, textures, character models, environment models, particle effects, all of these are spectacular in-game as they combine to form a sharp and vibrant Seattle, whether you’re exploring through the warm autumn dawn or the neon-filled nightlife. It must also be said that the attention to graphical details is particularly impressive. The most remarkable example I found of this was the way the rain hits certain objects like puddles or cars; it’s very realistic and, from a graphical standpoint, is a great thing to watch and awe over. This is definitely the game’s greatest asset as it continues to thrill with each new segment of the story you encounter.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
With Infamous: Second Son taking some new and improved approaches aesthetically, one would expect Sucker Punch to take it another step and revamp the gameplay — but that’s not the case. Second Son’s gameplay has changed minimally compared to the previous Infamous titles, which is a bit of a shame in some areas of gameplay. It’s still a great, enjoyable open world experience that gives the player a sense of power while still being relatively challenging during certain segments, such as boss battles and minion swarms. The addition of multiple powers keeps the game fresh as you track down collectibles and upgrades and is by far the greatest new element to the series. Although, there are a few mechanics that need some improvement that have held the game series back in the past. A few of these include tightening the controls, especially in regards to character movement, and giving the R1 and R2 projectile attacks a more satisfying character and player feedback. The Infamous formula is good, but there’s always room for improvement.
A component of the game, however minor it is, that must be mentioned is the spray painting mechanic introduced in Infamous: Second Son. At certain segments of the adventure, the game will tell you to hold your controller sideways and press R2 to spray paint using motion controls. To be frank, it’s a gimmick through and through, but it’s oddly ingenious. The natural motion and fit of the controller makes the mini-game way more enjoyable than it should be; it’s strangely addictive and enjoyable even though it’s an obvious stunt.
A lot of open world games like Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls and Grand Theft Auto, are, excuse the pun, infamous for being riddled with technical bugs and glitches. However, I’ve found very few of these in Infamous: Second Son. The game runs smoothly, doesn’t clip me through environments except on very rare occasions so collision isn’t a problem, doesn’t glitch when moving between platforms with slight elevation differences, menus are fast and responsive in loading and cycling. Sure, there are some technical hiccups here and there, but they are nowhere near game breaking. It’s a very solid title technically, something you don’t see too often with many free roam games.
Infamous: Second Son is a beautiful game that successfully delivers both a comprehensive, visually stunning world and a highly enjoyable gameplay experience. Sucker Punch spent an immense amount of time to enhancing and refining in-game details, from the character interactions to the little graphical and gameplay touches. There are a few little setbacks that keep this game from being a straight up knockout, such as iffy controls and a lack of explosive and projectile feedback, but these are minor. While I wouldn’t call Infamous: Second Son a system seller, it is a must have for anyone who already owns a Playstation 4, even if you’re not a fan of free roam games. If you’re a fan of the Infamous series, then I would definitely recommend getting a PS4 for this one as it is by far the best in the series.
Final Score: 9 / 10
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review