by Josh Vollmer
Infamous Second Son is an open world adventure game released exclusively for the Playstation 4. Developed by the long time Sony exclusive studio Sucker Punch Productions, Second Son is the third game in the Infamous series. The first two games focused on Cole MacGrath, a super powered human called a Conduit that had the ability to wield electricity as a weapon. If you played Cole as a hero (which Second Son assumes that you did), the climax of Infamous 2 culminated in MacGrath sacrificing himself, laying down his life for the greater good. Set seven years after those fateful events, Infamous: Second Son introduces new protagonist Delsin Rowe, along with all new power sets, and a Seattle that’s under siege by a government agency called the Department of Unified Protection, or the DUP, an agency tasked with controlling Conduits in an effort to protect the rest of humanity.
Having essentially established martial law in the city of Seattle, the DUP’s influence can be seen everywhere from the unmanned drones and numerous cameras watching over the population, to the constant APC patrols and frequent biometric checkpoints ferreting out Conduits (or bio-terrorists, as the DUP’s propaganda labels them) that are trying to blend in with the general population. The Department is run by Brooke Augustine, herself a Conduit with the ability to control concrete, a power she uses to ruthlessly and efficiently hunt down her fellow Conduits and incarcerate them. Delsin Rowe, the resident black sheep of a nearby Akomish Native American reservation, discovers that he too is a Conduit when he comes into physical contact with a DUP prison escapee that has the power to control smoke. Now on the run himself, Delsin is propelled into a struggle to free his city and heal his tribe, most of whom have been mortally wounded by Augustine in her effort to locate and bring down Rowe.
Thinking the best defense is a good offense, Rowe decides to stand up to the DUP and the megalomaniac Augustine. Using his newfound powers, and his knack for inflammatory anti-DUP graffiti, Delsin chips away at the Department’s hold on the city’s districts by any means possible. As he liberates Seattle’s neighborhoods one by one, Delsin’s path leads him inexorably on towards an ultimate confrontation with the DUP and Augustine herself. Luckily he is not alone, and with the help of his long-suffering brother Reggie, and perhaps a couple new Conduit powers borrowed from other ‘bio-terrorists’ rumored to be hiding out within the Seattle city limits, Delsin Rowe just might stand a chance against the overwhelming odds stacked against him.
Infamous Second Son is a truly gorgeous game, and while I haven’t had extensive experience with the Playstation 4 or Xbox One consoles, I can say Second Son is one of the first games on the new hardware that truly shouts ‘next-gen’ to me. It truly looks and feels like something the PS3 or Xbox 360 would not be able to duplicate. While this is in part due to the game’s graphics, leaving it at that would not tell the whole story. Sure, the cutscenes are beautifully rendered, but the voice acting is also spot on. The controls are tight and responsive, making use of the Dualshock 4 controller’s touch pad frequently, but without making it feel overly awkward or forced. The game’s script itself is also strong, with only a few predictable moments and bits of hokey dialog peppered throughout. The city itself is likely not as detailed as what we’ll be seeing on the PS4 in a year or two, but it is beautifully lit with some outstanding lighting effects that take full advantage of Seattle’s generally damp conditions and the numerous neon signs scattered throughout Sucker Punch Productions’ iteration of the city.
All in all Infamous Second Son is a great game, and feels like a thoroughly play tested, high quality experience. Likely it will be looked back upon as one of the first titles to push the envelope of this most recent hardware cycle. If you’re a fan of third person adventure games with open world’s to explore a la Assassin’s Creed III, and Saint’s Row IV, you owe it to yourself to check out Infamous Second Son today. It is a solid gaming experience overall, and one of the first truly outstanding games to reveal itself here in the infancy of the Playstation 4. Look for it at your local Slackers today!