InFAMOUS: Second Son is the first high profile, next-generation game since the launch of the PS4 in 2013. Naturally, fans are bound to be more critical of the game than usual. Millions of early adopters want Sucker Punch’s open-world superhero adventure to justify the $399 price of admission. Despite some questionable design decisions, Second Son is a fantastic introduction for the next generation of video games.
The game stars Delsin Rowe, a Native American twenty-something in Seattle. Delsin is a rebel compared to his cop brother Reggie, always getting in trouble for protesting the state government or for decorating the town with artistic graffiti.
For newcomers, the InFamous world is full of superhero-like characters called “Conduits.” These people have superpowers that essentially turn them into combinations of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man. While using these powers, players can scale skyscrapers, create massive explosions, and fly through the Seattle skyline with ease.
Delsin accidentally becomes a “Conduit,” and his Native American community is afflicted with a terrible disease by the game’s main villain at the beginning of the adventure. Throughout the 15-hour story mode, Delsin can use superpowers related to smoke, neon, TV and concrete.
Playing as Delsin is an absolute joy. One can’t help but feel like a complete badass while maneuvering between rooftops without even touching the city streets below. When it comes to combat, Delsin can unleash destructive attacks on enemies that put even Marvel’s most powerful superheroes to shame.
A player’s powers are nearly limitless, but thankfully Sucker Punch didn’t make the game too easy or unbalanced. Delsin is still a mortal man and he is very fragile. The game does use regenerating health, but every encounter with enemy forces is a struggle as Delsin can’t take much damage. This was a wise move by Sucker Punch as it makes the player strategize before each battle, stopping the adventure from becoming a total cake walk.
InFamous is best known for its trademark good versus evil plots where players can choose to either be a hero or a villain. Avoid executing enemies and killing civilians to promote tolerance and equality. Murder innocent civilians, ignore their cries for help and execute every enemy to make the city of Seattle fear you.
The game’s plot changes based on the player’s decisions, with other non-player characters aligning themselves with Delsin, depending on what path is chosen. Important moments pop up throughout the campaign where Delsin has to choose between committing a very heroic act or a heinous, villainous deed.
One of the more climatic examples is when Delsin must choose between letting the murderer of someone he loved go free or get revenge by killing him in front of his wife and child. Most players will likely play through Second Son twice, choosing all the “good” options once and choosing all the “evil” options on a second playthrough.
A major problem with the game’s “evil” narrative is that Delsin never comes across as a believable evil-doer. His personality doesn’t change even when doing terrible things. It is hard to not like him because he fits the heroic role much better. Sucker Punch should have changed his personality for players who choose to go down the path of a villain, or at least make him a formidable bad guy and not someone who apologizes after cutting down a person in front of a large crowd.
Second Son’s plot is well-done and keeps the player interested at all times. It’s a little more sophisticated than the typical superhero drama and emphasizes the consequences of an individual’s actions.
The other characters in the game are unique and charming, like Delsin’s brother Reggie. There are several interesting side characters, but these individuals only appear for one or two missions. They don’t get nearly enough screen time as they should, making them stand out as one of the game’s few under-developed areas.
Sucker Punch must be applauded for the portrayal of Native Americans in InFamous: Second Son. Delsin and his brother Reggie are strong, non-stereotypical characters which isn’t something you see often with minorities in video games. Delsin doesn’t have long hair and isn’t overly emotional, which are common tropes for Native American characters in the media.
InFamous: Second Son is a great title to introduce players to a new generation of game design. It features unique and exciting missions, charming characters, a highly detailed city and best-in-class motion capture. The game has a solid narrative and is packed with content. It is flat-out fun with a compelling plot even if it is rough around the edges.