Graphics - 9.5
Gameplay - 9
Story - 8.5
Controls - 8
Summary : Manages to avoid stereotypes and become a memorable, enjoyable game. There's definitely more here than meets the eye.
I’ve been a fan of this series since the great PSN outage of 2011. In other words, I only really played the first game when it was given to me for free. That being said, I really enjoyed the solid gameplay and the interesting story. For the first time ever, I felt like I had played a game that really captured the essence of being a super hero. Around the same time that I started playing the first game, I purchased a meal at Subway and ended up winning Infamous 2 from one of their promotions. That’s right, I got both the first and second game in the series for free. Needless to say, this was a pretty sweet deal, because both titles were quite excellent. When I heard that they were producing a third game in the series for the PS4, I knew it would be one of my first purchases for the system – and it was. There you go, Sucker Punch, you finally got my hard earned dollar.
To be honest, this is one of the first titles for the Playstation 4 that really stands out as a product of the next generation. Most of the other games currently released on the system are ports from the PS3, and although they do a good job of showing what the new hardware is capable of, they don’t truly feel any different. In the case of Infamous: Second Son, we finally get a top tier title that really shows off what the PS4 is capable of. Maybe it’s not the most engrossing game and it definitely doesn’t make the most of the capabilities of the system, but it’s a positive step in the right direction. Second Son is the first Playstation game to really give us a glimpse of what the next generation of gaming has in store for us.
Okay, so the integration of features such as the touch pad is still somewhat gimmicky, but at least they have elected to make full use of the controller and incorporate as many controls as possible. When integrated poorly, performing actions in a game with a new control scheme can sometimes be more of a burden than it needs to be, but they definitely achieved the right balance for Infamous: Second Son. You’ll be using the touch pad to get new powers, free prisoners and destroy enemy equipment, just to name a few functions of this new device. In addition, the controller itself will double as a can of spray paint when you go about creating some Banksy-esque artwork in the city.
The game looks and plays great. Although I have a feeling that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the PS4 can do when it comes to graphical capability, it’s worth mentioning that facial movements are much more true to life than anything we saw in the last generation. Physical movements are also improved, and if you actually slow down and pay attention, you’ll notice that your character’s face grimaces and makes other movements while he is in action. You’ll notice little things, such as a droplet of rain hitting a small puddle in the streets of Seattle and creating a realistic dimple in the water. Never before has flying around a city, climbing up its buildings and taking out bad guys felt more realistic. Well, unless you’re familiar with Seattle, and then all of the obvious alterations will stick out like a sore thumb. Oh well, I guess there’s only so much they can do.
When it comes to the story, this might be the best Infamous game yet. Okay, so it’s not exactly a work of art, but it is fairly groundbreaking. While some might just gloss over the story elements, the truth is that there is a lot about Infamous: Second Son that we simply haven’t seen anywhere else. The most surprising element I noticed was the fact that our main character (and his family) is apparently Native American. Tell me, when was the last time you saw a video game with a main character that was Native American and wasn’t necessarily negatively portrayed? Never? Exactly. Perhaps the most forgotten and neglected group of people in the United States just made the big time.
Some might say that their portrayal in the game is insensitive, but I think you’d have to look pretty hard to find anything even remotely racist here. True, the main character is a Native American with mystical powers, but there are a few other people in the game who also have powers and they are all white. To be honest, I kind of have a problem with that (I mean come on, why can’t we have another black character with powers? What about Asian? Or Indian?), but it’s important to remember the dichotomy that exists between these two races in this country; there has almost always been an “us versus them” mentality and that isn’t just perpetuated by Euro-American peoples. If you’ve got a problem with our hero’s mystical powers, just take a look at all of the other people who have powers and remind yourself that nobody is trying to say that only a Native American with a connection to mother earth can save us.
Delsin, our hero, isn’t really in this to save the world at first – he just wants to save his tribe. They’ve been attacked by a conduit with a lot of power and he has the ability to take that power. He sets out with the goal to take her capabilities and use them to reverse the damage she has done, only discovering that he has more work to do when he finally gets to Seattle. His brother, Reggie, is a law man with several ties to the police force in the city who help him along the way. Reggie doesn’t necessarily believe that conduits are bad people, but he follows the letter of the law and does not necessarily appreciate Delsin’s rogue attitude. The differences between them really serve to add a layer of depth to an otherwise shallow story, ultimately leading the player to make a decision after an emotionally trying moment which may change everything they have worked for.
In the end, the story feels closer to an X-men comic series than an Infamous title, but it works well for the game in spite of any similarities. Oh yes, there is a Magneto-esque character and there is an “us vs. them” mentality at play, but that mentality has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the powerful being pitted against the powerless. Of course, what this says about racial tensions in our country is deeply profound, and it’s incredibly important that they elected to incorporate a Native American into the story line at this point in the franchise, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper than the “on-the-surface” representation immediately present in Second Son to see what I’m getting at.
With excellent gameplay that is intuitive and fun, a story that can really make you think and incredible next gen graphics, Infamous: Second Son is a no brainer. If you haven’t already picked it up, you owe it to yourself to check this game out. There is definitely more to this title than a first glance will reveal, so take your time and really dig into the game. Trust me, you won’t regret it.