inFamous: Second Son sets an incredibly high bar for next-generation open world games.
I'm not entirely certain at which point in Sucker Punch's inFamous: Second Son's incredible opening I realized I was not actually experiencing a sleep-deprived hallucination at around 4:30 AM, and yes, this was actually a game that I was playing. Drop-dead gorgeous, astonishingly fun, and surprisingly touching, Second Son is an experience that shouldn't be missed.
For starters, Second Son is easily one of the best looking games I have ever played, bar none. If this is a game released near the beginning of the generation, I can't wait to see where developers will go from here. In addition, the game's fantastic soundtrack does nothing but add atmosphere and perfectly captures the environment of Seattle. There really is not that much more to be said.
The changes made to Second Son's core gameplay from past inFamous games make it a simpler experience, but definitely retain the fluidity and depth that made inFamous one of the most fast and fun third-person shooters on the PS3. Powers come out on the press of a single button, without requiring an aim first. This, albeit sort of simple change, makes combat feel even faster than the past games, and makes it just straight up fun to hold combat while careening through the air at incredible speeds.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the powers Delsin picks up through the story are each incredibly unique, fantastic to look at, and just fun to use. Each set of powers fills its own role, complementing however you want to approach encounters, in addition to having varying strengths while traversing the city. The powers also feel truly unique in concept of the realm of superhero fiction, incredibly imaginative, without feeling derivative or shoehorned in to fit a certain gameplay system requirement.
While Second Son's gameplay is top notch, the interactions between the characters are what push it to greater heights. Reggie and Delsin bicker and butt heads just as brothers who deep down really care about each other but don't want anyone else to know are wont to do, and each additional supporting character settles in and just connects with the Rowe brothers with a kind of natural ease that just isn't seen in video games very often. The result is that these characters truly come alive and seem more like real people, rather than plot-created story advancers, which, to me, is just about the highest praise I can give.
Sure, there are nitpicks to be leveled at certain aspects of the game, such as fairly repetitive side missions that seem more like tacked on diversions. The secret agent missions in particular feel egregious about this, where you are tasked to find a D.U.P. secret agent in a certain area given a photo showing their appearance. What followed tended to be me hovering my aiming reticule on literally everyone in the given area until one of them showcased concrete powers and ran off, rather than what the developers probably intended, of carefully looking for the agent.
In addition, I know this is an inFamous staple, but it is incredibly disappointing that someone who plays good all the way through can't decide to snap and take the evil ending or vice versa. I know Sucker Punch has a tendency to stress “Well, we're looking at comic books for inspiration, and no one wants to be a gray superhero, they want to be all the way one way or all the way the other.” which is all fine up to a certain point, but it all goes back to a similar point I made earlier about how seeming like real people. Real people have lines, real people have bad days, and real people snap and do things that are rash. Given how binary the decisions are in the game, I think it would be really interesting to see a story direction about a hero who was pushed to far, or a villain who has a limit.
Still, don't get me wrong. These nitpicks are more what I feel would make a fantastic experience even better, they aren't preventing a great experience from becoming fantastic. inFamous: Second Son is still an absolute blast from start to finish, with fast, frantic, and fun gameplay, interesting, deep, and well-written characters, and is definitely among the first PS4 games that truly feels new and exciting.