Hoo boy. No matter what I say here, my buddy Nick is gonna be pissed at me.
This is my first time playing an inFAMOUS game (why the fuck is the title like that?), so I didn’t quite know what to expect going in. I knew the basics; it’s a superhero game where your choices decided whether you were the hero or the villain. And I’d certainly been pressured to play it more than a few times; it’s the favorite game of the aforementioned friend of mind. So, what did I think playing this for the first time?
Yeah, it’s good. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it’s pretty good.
You play as Delsin, a trouble-making graffiti artist. When his tribe’s home is caught in the middle of a super-human prison escape, Delsin comes face-to-face with one of these convicts and discovers that he is a superhuman himself: a Conduit. Soon after this, the head of the Conduit-hunting military force, Augustine, uses her concrete powers to torture and mutilate the others of his tribe. Now Delsin, along with his brother Reggie, must pursue Augustine and the other Conduits in order to steal their powers. But you must choose: will Delsin become the next great superhero? Or will he become the deadliest villain of the age?
The story here is pretty good. All of the characters are very well written, with strong backstories, motivations, and personalities. The dialogue they share is very strong, featuring some great witty banter and heavier moments of emotional bonding. The plot itself doesn’t feature any incredible twists or turns; it’s very much ‘go save/kill this guy, get stronger, move on until you beat/kill final boss’. You’ll love the people in this story, but the narrative itself isn’t especially memorable.
Part of that boils down to the morality system. Around many turns, you’ve got to make a choice. Do something good for something good to happen, do something bad for something bad to happen. The difference between these two routes is very different on a narrative front. All that really changes is whether the other characters will say nice or mean things about you.
The worst part is the ending. After you defeat Augustine, you’re treated to a simple comic book style montage that goes over what happened afterwards, then an epilogue cutscene. These change depending on whether you chose good or evil. But neither one is all that satisfying! It’s all conclusion with no falling action! Don’t tell me about the consequences of my actions, let me experience them!
I do like this story well enough. It’s got good characters, great dialogue, and some powerful emotional moments. It isn’t all that surprising and the endings are far from satisfying. But I have experienced far worse plots in video games.
Visually speaking, this game still holds up really well! The character models all look great, they’re animated extremely well, the effects on your powers look incredible, and all the environments look great! On top of that, it runs at a buttery smooth FPS from start to end. By today’s standards, this game is still perfectly fine!
I love its semi-comic book aesthetic. It doesn’t go for full-on photo-realism, like so many other Playstation games. It has a light animated look to it, like an animated version of what you’d find in a comic page. It helps it stand out and hold up even now.
Still, I wish it got a little weirder with it. Give me some of that comic book goofiness!
Music wise… wait, was there music in this game? I legitimately never noticed. It’s either so quiet that you won’t be able to hear it under all the sounds of battle or it just won’t play at all. Question is: is no music better than bad music? I dunno. I just wish there was something to remember.
Now, we come to the crux of it all: the game itself. Which is very good! A bit repetitive and incredibly unbalanced. But it’s still fun!
This is a simple super-human simulator. You run around using various powers to hop around the city and take out bad guys. As the game progresses, you steadily unlock new powers. By the end of it all, you’ll be running around shooting smoke, neon light, video static, and running around with concrete!
Your actions dictate whether you become a super hero or a super villain. Each path doesn’t just take you down a different narrative route, they also take you down a different gameplay route! Each morality has its own upgrade tree, making each of your two playthroughs different on a gameplay front.
My first problem is balance. Of the three powers you’ll be using through the majority of the game, Neon is just objectively better than the other two. It has better mobility and it just plows through enemies like a hot shovel through snow! Why would you ever bother using Smoke or TV when Neon is simply stronger?
The second is the side activities. You’ve got more than a few. Bust drones to get upgrade points, tear down enemy bases to reveal the map, take down undercover agents, find audio logs, or do some graffiti art to further your good/evil karma, along with a few other things. All of these are fine the first few times. Unfortunately, like most other open-world games, they get very repetitive very quickly.
I’m especially not fond of the spray painting minigame. While the artwork you get afterwards is nice (gruesome and violent for evil, or cute and funny for good), actually creating it is a pain in the ass. Because you have to use the PS4’s motion controls! Yay! So you’ve got to hold the controller awkwardly in one hand and work with some truly bad motion controls! It is not fun, nor is it especially rewarding.
Combat does get repetitive, but it’s also pretty satisfying. It can quickly become a chaotic mess as the superpowers fly. You’ve got some things that are simply better than others (like everything in the Neon toolkit) so you’ll find yourself spamming the most effective moves. But the chaos of it all is enjoyable enough to not get annoying.
Overall, I found inFAMOUS: Second Son to be a strongly enjoyable game. It’s good for one or two playthroughs before all the repetition gets annoying. If you’re looking for a comic book simulator that isn’t Batman or Spider-Man, there are few better. It’s short, it’s fun, and it’s well worth your time.
And now I wait for my friend to murder me.