Infamous: Second Son
Slowly but surely I’m becoming a fan of the folks at Sucker Punch Productions. “Learn from your mistakes and you’ll never go wrong!” That’s what old Granny Bagg used to say. When I reviewed the first inFamous, I have to admit, I let it rip. The pseudo-Detective Comics art style, the boring Tim Burton-y Gotham Cityscape, bullies-with-a-heart-of-gold character… it all fell pretty flat, although the latent talent of its creators was clear. The aw-shucks Big Easy sequel was more relaxed and funny, a goofy vampire trope of the Festival of Blood made for fun.
By now, the infamous folks have their tongues firmly planted in their cheek for the rousing inFamous: Second Son, which kicks off with a completely self-contained story involving a world full of Conduits. These Conduit dudes, alien beings with super-powers, are labeled ‘Bio-Terrorists’ by the Department of Unified Protection, a menacing Big Brother-type agency that owns full legal authority to detain or obliterate. You don’t need to know anything about prior Infamous shenanigans to fully participate in Second Son.
Delsin, our hero, despite his name sounding like a brand name in a pharmacy, is a young, feisty fellow who gets caught in the aftermath of an accident after a Conduit van crashes into his hometown. An innocent bystander, Delsin is caught in the atmosphere caused by the death of a fire-being, thereby inheriting the power of ‘Smoke.”’ Having inherited the fire-being’s will-of-the-wisp-ness, Delsin can now hover in midair, teleport himself from one ‘area’ to another, and shoot fireballs from his hands. Sounds pretty generic, right? Wrong! Delsin (winningly voiced by actor Troy Baker) proves to have a winning everyman personality. Hopefully you do indeed like him because the whole story is told from his POV.
Delsin also has a winning partner in his brother Reggie, a power-happy police officer as they go up against a number of sometimes empathetic but always interesting Conduits, especially their wicked leader. No spoilers here. I don’t want to mess with anything. Suffice to say that there are beaucoup twists and turns and zigzags throughout the lively tale. Nothing spectacular and no reliance on special effects still make for my idea of fun.
What’s coolest is that the game is full of dry wit and style. Interesting, believable characters, and, no matter what their power or ability is, they each come accompanied by a superbly animated on-screen effect. When Delsin actually uses his powers to fly, levitate or use a weapon, there’s a feral, deep-seated convincing thrill as you get to own the power! Lookit: Flying is fun!
Combat modes are fun and, although it takes a bit of time, easy once you’ve learned how to control them. You can lead both ‘melee’ and ‘deranged’ attacks using weapons like stun grenades, rocket launchers, tank war, armored carrier tracker war, carpet artillery and fighter bombing, etc. Delsin’s main weapon is literally a chain caked in fire. And, eventually you’ll take control of three distinct switchable powers. Sucker Punch has even incorporated the Touch Pad on the DualShock 4 into some actions, including both regular old press motions and some swipes. Besides a set of jarring motion-controlled spray-can alternate, optional mini-games, all I can do is applaud Second Son‘s near-flawless set of first-rate production values.
Equally interesting is that once you’ve done it all, you can redo the story again on the other side of the morality coin, or explore everything – which will take quite some time beyond the roughly 10-to-15 hour story. All of Seattle is here, and game-wise, it’s massive, and there are a ton of different ‘districts’ to liberate or kill off from DUP jurisdiction.
Second Son is by far the best inFamous production yet. Jaded as I am, and very easily bored at that, Delsin and Co. get it done. They have reconstituted my long hibernation away from boring superheroes. You don’t need any prior knowledge of the franchise to play for sure. I think it’s awesome!