inFAMOUS Second Son sees Delsin Rowe, a street artist facing the shame of a brother serving in the police force, discovering his ability to absorb powers from other Conduits. Too bad the D.U.P. is after every bioterrorist on the loose and looks like Delsin is the ultimate price; together with other three fugitives. The main location is Seattle, with the Department of Unified Protection taking control over every district in an attempt to seize the conduits in the city. From the beginning the stunning visuals reminds you that you’re really in the next generation. The astonishing facial animations help bring the characters to life and the special effects of the various powers in the game are unique, well differentiated and recognizable.
The gameplay is based on the assimilation of power sources to fuel your powers. At the beginning you can absorb only smoke, until you meet with other conduits, unlocking neon and video. Every power has specific abilities that allow you to travel in the city and others that are used to stun or kill enemies. You can use a melee attack or a range attack and depending on the “karma” path you follow your powers will develop in order to subdue or kill your enemies, earning good or evil karma.
During the story you’ll have to choose what kind of man you want to be. A despicable human being or an hero. The karma system is hard-coded in the inFamous series but it makes no sense. The hero path is the only possible way you can play, given the presentation of the characters and the situations you’ll face in the game. Your primary mission is to help your tribe and restore peace in your hometown and when you’ve killed hundreds of innocent people and your cop brother tells you how proud he is of your actions in a cutscene it’s a little difficult not to feel the dissonance. Plus the evil karma choices are just cruelty without any justification. The good karma options allow you to relate to the main character, while the evil karma path makes you play like a sociopath, heading straight into an inevitable disaster. The only reason to play as “inFamous” opposed to “Hero” in my opinion is only to unlock the related trophies. The cool thing of the division is the different powers you can unlock depending on your behavior, making little changes to the way you face combat.
Between missions you can freely explore the city and complete side missions; the city is wonderfully designed, with actual establishments of the real Seattle. The problem is that these side missions are generic and absolutely not integrated in the story. Actually the free pack of missions “Paper Trail” is the real jewel in this department. It serves as a description of various events that brought to the facts depicted at the beginning of the game. Divided in six chapters it involves solving puzzles outside the game, in your browser, navigating various pages built specifically around various situations and different characters. When you find the solution you will be brought back in the game on your PS4 system.
The progression system is stellar and utterly satisfying. Collecting Shards will allow you to upgrade your powers, helping in various combat scenarios and when traversing the city. You can change the source of your powers whenever you want, even during combat, choosing to use heavy ammunition or invisibility depending on the type of enemies you are facing at the moment. The D.U.P.’s troops consist of the basic soldier, reinforcements with mini-guns, snipers, heavy armored “berserkers” who will charge you, and support units who will regenerate and protect the squad. Later on in the game they will start using choppers; just to make sure to cover the air, too. It’s in these scenarios that you will need to use every possible power source in the area at your advantage.
As said before the game looks amazing and plays even better. The problem is the generic side activities and the fact that, apart from Delsin, his brother Reggie, and the main villain Augustine, the three other conduits you encounter during the game are just stereotypical figures with very little character development.
What saves this game is the fact that with his pacing and progression it results enjoyable and engaging. But otherwise the lack of innovation is disturbingly evident. Especially in the side missions department. The real experiment is the free Paper Trail add-on. But if you want to see what your PS4 can do this is the game for you. Maybe inFAMOUS Second Son is not a system-seller, but it’s a damn solid third-person action game.