The open world superpower game genre is indeed still alive, heck, its passed into another generation (and that’s a multi-tiered play on words there folks). Impressive looking to the enth degree, InFamous: Second Son is definitely making the most of the graphical hardware improvements in ways that would ‘shock’ good ole Cole Macgrath. Passing the torch to a fresh face, InFamous is back, and with all the power you could hope for.
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Genre Rating: Open-world action / T
The first blockbuster exclusive of the generation for the Playstation 4, InFamous: Second Son is an open world superpower simulator with a whole lot of flash. With some truly impressive graphical power, particularly facial capture animation (quickly becoming a graphical standard) that put the joke to the idea of ‘uncanny valley’, with this third installment of the Infamous franchise, find out if that old comic book idiom about great power is true. Or maybe that other darker one, about ‘absolute’ power is more your style?
In case you weren’t tuning in to previous episodes, the world of Infamous revolves around folks who can channel superpowers, or ‘Conduits’. The world was altered when a secret society (yes, a secret society) set off a blue technology orb thing that zapped abilities into those with the potential to become super beings. Awesome if you’ve got the latent genetics when you’re hit with the ‘superhero energy’ releasing, explosion beams, not so much otherwise. What followed was two games worth of plagues and power mad types, and a whole lot of choosing either good or evil decisions to become the ultimate boyscout, or super-jerk. Ultimately, ( in a move that isn’t duplicated often enough by storytellers with marketable leads), the old guy Cole exploded a different blue technology orb thing designed to save plague ridden humans, but at the price of killing off all the Conduits… himself included.
Seven years later and, Conduits are back! This time in Seattle. Play as spray can wielding, denim clad, 99 percent-er, slacker protester, and (presumably) hacky-sack all star, Delsin. Angry at the ‘government’ our boy Delsin finds himself with the ability to do something about it with some truly flashy and fun looking powers. Of course, what use are powers without something or someone to use them against? Enter DUP, pseudo military organization with a nut against, you guessed it, Conduits. Boasting a fairly impressive move set, with the obvious branching paths for ‘Good Deslin’ versus ‘Bad Delsin’ if you’ve seen any footage at all and have even an iota of super hero fanboy in you, you’ve probably a hair or two standing on end. Delsin’s abilities are triggered by contact with other Conduits, which in Infamous: Second Son, will act as a sort of level up, unlocking new abilities. As a super hero nut myself, I have to hand it to the folks at Sucker Punch for keeping things interesting. As an example, Delsin’s early abilities involves smoke and neon light, and the traversal , particularly the teleports, look incredible. Charging up the ability involves absorbing smoke and light wherever you find it, and even this small act has me all aflutter with involuntary glee. Unbecoming of a grown man you say? I can’t disagree.
As you might have gathered, the good/bad binary moral decision thing is back, which, if we’re being honest here, seems a bit outdated. To be fair, it’s probably incredibly complicated to balance out a game that can run a full spectrum of decisions ranging from black to white and all points in between. That said, I can think of at least one open world franchise that has managed it (ahem-Fallout-ahem), to say nothing of Mass Effect, but I digress. Most criticism aimed at the game so far is about how antiquated this system feels, but if what you’re looking for is a spectacular looking fracas of super powers and destruction, well then, who cares? Whether it’s the good guy thing or the bad, at the very least, two different decision paths / power sets gives Infamous: Second Son a second helping of replayability.