inFAMOUS: Second Son Review: PS4's first masterpiece

  • Posted March 20th, 2014 at 10:00 EDT by Glenn Gordon

Review Score

inFamous: Second Son

PSU Review Score
10.0
Avg. user review score:
8.5

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Summary

Visual splendor and gameplay brilliance frame a memorable story with expressive characters. inFAMOUS: Second Son is a PS4 masterpiece.

We like

  • Characters full of personality and expression
  • Memorable, satisfying story
  • Visually stunning

We dislike

  • It isn't longer.

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Gameplay

Expanding your powers is, of course, a blast, but especially in the thrill of learning something new. Experiencing Delsin’s shakiness with new powers and helping him turn it into something amazing never gets old. Neither does combat, which is consistently challenging and satisfying without ever feeling overwhelming. From drug dealers to the DUP itself, fighting is fun, and your powers are a big part of it. As you gain new powers, you find that there are places everywhere to recharge them, and switching between them is as easy as draining a corresponding power source, even in combat.

Choice also comes into play. With only a few big turning-point Karma moments to speak of, the Karma system mainly feeds off your mid-gameplay choices. Lethal and nonlethal takedowns, frustrating protesters begging for a beatdown, a surrendering enemy at your mercy—the permutations are plentiful, and giving the player something to think about keeps combat extremely engaging throughout.

Blast shards return from the previous two games, but they are easier to find and very desirable, serving as currency to upgrade your powers. They are also everywhere, so finding them doesn't usually feel like a chore. This is especially true when the full breadth and destruction level of new abilities becomes apparent; there are pages and pages of available upgrades, and the progression escalates power.

At times, scaling buildings can feel a little slower than in the first games, but then vents are introduced. In seconds, you can use a vent to go from the bottom of a skyscraper to the very top, and vents are plentiful. Then I got neon power and my immediate sentiment was, 'Well, forget vents. Now I can just run up the wall.' inFAMOUS has always done traversal well, but never better than here. Traversing Seattle with your powers is amazing fun, especially since travel abilities are different for each power type and don't drain your resources.

With Second Son's rendition of Seattle, a totally open world with painstaking detail and a healthy amount of artistic liberty is on offer. Perfectionists and trophy hunters will have plenty to do, but if you would rather just follow the story, you can. By the same token, you could be in the middle of a mission and decide on a whim to chase after a drone carrying a blast shard. Only very key tasks impose a limit on when you can do what you want to.

All told, Second Son carries the sense of exploration, duty, and adventure of an inFAMOUS game. It's a logical evolution of the series' mechanics and sensibilities.

Graphics

One part of that evolution is Second Son’s visuals, which are simply gorgeous. Warm sunlight glows and reflects in all the appropriate places. The same holds true for other light sources, such as city lights and the neon powers of Fetch, a fellow Conduit. Reflections ground this lighting in realistic application: the sun glints off cars, the sky and skyline are visible in puddles on the street, and mirror images are perfectly rendered in panes of glass. It's almost redundant to mention that environmental textures are crisp and well-detailed.

If that weren't enough, particle effects (so many particle effects) are beautifully rendered and move very smoothly. I noticed no strange glitches or graphical quirks, and Delsin's limbs never awkwardly clipped through a wall or window.

DualShock 4

Sucker Punch has used the DualShock 4’s features quite intelligently. Most notable is the use of the speaker, which serves up phone rings and conversations on Delsin's cell. Sound also rushes through the speaker as you drain power. This is strangely pleasant. There’s something about holding the source of the sound in your hands that adds to the experience of the game. That feeling of, 'I’m sucking up smoke power and I can hear and feel it in my hand,' is hard to describe, and may sound gimmicky to some, but if Sucker Punch were to patch this game tomorrow and get rid of it entirely, I can honestly say I would miss it.

The Verdict

A couple concerns arose while playing inFAMOUS: Second Son. I even wrote them down, but as I kept playing, I crossed each one out as the game kept addressing them. Scaling buildings feels too slow? Pfft. Now you can run up walls. Retaking city districts from the DUP is getting repetitive? Here are new powers, an awesome story, and more impeccably detailed Seattle to explore.

No game is perfect, but I have spent a lot of time trying to think of a reasonable, significant complaint to hold with Second Son.

I can't think of a single one.

inFAMOUS: Second Son looks brilliant, sounds brilliant, and plays like a dream. I just finished it, and I already want to play it again. Few games have made me put down my controller at the end and say, “Now THAT was awesome.” inFAMOUS: Second Son has proven itself a rare gem by being one of those games.

I'm going to go back to playing it now.

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  • Related game: inFamous: Second Son

    Release date (US):
    March 21st, 2014
    Developer:
    Sucker Punch Productions
    Genre:
    Action - Third Person
    Rank:
    0 of 2,669 Games
    Up 0 places (in last 7 days)

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