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Good vs. Evil
on 10 February 2016
S T O R Y
Picking up years after the events of Infamous 2; you play as Delsin Rowe, a rebellious young man whose life is forever changed from a chance encounter with a powerful Conduit (superhuman beings). Your newfound powers attract the attention of an anti-conduit force known as the D.U.P. Many conduits are being hunted, leaving it up to Delsin, with the help of his brother, Reggie, to seek out new abilities and eliminate the D.U.P. But the question remains - will Delsin use his powers for evil or for good?
Delsin is a far more fleshed out character than Cole MacGrath (protagonist of the previous games). It's highly admirable that Delsin grows throughout the game, and that the player is very much part of the journey. Subjects of inner conflict and morality work wonderfully well through genuine character interaction. The back stories surrounding support characters are excellent, providing plenty of depth and tone to performances.
G R A P H I C S & S O U N D
The power of the PS4 shines through Second Son's glistening Seattle setting. The lighting is truly the star of the show, bathing streets and city architecture in its glow. Seattle is diversely designed, split into a number of districts and bizarrely terraformed environments. It's the little things such as puddle reflections and microbial particle effects that add to the overall presentation. The animations and character models are excellent. The amount of detail that has gone into facial animations is staggering. The game engine is at its best when Delsin's powers are in full flow tearing up the city. Sucker Punch has put plenty of TLC into the destructive visual effects. The voice acting is right on the money, especially when the banter between Delsin and Raggie is in full swing.
As much as Seattle is wonderfully designed, the city doesn't reach the atmospherics heights of open-world behemoths such as GTA 5. The diversity of the districts show promise, but they are underpopulated and lack immersion. The soundtrack is largely forgettable, never truly matching up to the frenetic action.
G A M E P L A Y
If there's one thing that Second Son does immaculately well it is the fact that it makes you feel like an unstoppable badass. If you've played the previous games in the series then you'll feel right at home here. Delsin controls very smoothly, making it very easy for you to parkour around Seattle in a breeze. The game slowly introduces you to the heavy-handed D.U.P. forces, whizzing you around a number of districts to complete missions and bring peace to the citizens. There are a number of side missions which will allow you to graffiti tag buildings, eliminate D.U.P. agents, destroy D.U.P. strongholds, and hunt down blast shards to help upgrade your powers.
Delsin will come outfitted with a range of destructive abilities. The first power you'll pick up is smoke, which is chaotic and highly offensive. Smoke is fantastic to use when clearing large groups of enemies, or even use its swirling goodness to zoom up vents and scale buildings instantly. Neon power uses concentrated beams of light to fire supercharged projectiles, which also enable Delsin to streak up walls. Neon is a harder skill to master since its precision can leave you vulnerable to attack. Video power is quite similar to Neon, but it emphasises mobility and speed. It allows Delsin to temporarily sprout wings and use satellite dishes to boost around the city. Concrete is a powerful ability in our protagonist's arsenal, transforming him into a human juggernaut capable of bulldozing anything in sight. Each of these powers has an 'ultimate' attack, which will just obliterate anything around you. The pay off is quite spectacular! Your energy will always need recharging, so it's best to lookout for lights, smoking chimneys, video screens to recharge from. There is also a handy skill tree to upgrade each power so keep collecting those blast shards.
True to the series, a morality system is in place to guide your evil or good ways. If you wish to be a saviour upon Seattle then you better watch your destructive ways. It's very easy to cause collateral damage and injure citizens. You can perform good deeds such as help citizens or defeat enemies by non-lethal means. The choices you make will determine the ways in which your powers can develop and when you are able to unlock new abilities. The experience really comes into its own when you meet other Conduits; how you choose to adopt their powers will affect the relationships you have with them. The D.U.P. are a resilient force, never shying away in taking the battle to you. It's also impressive how the stronger enemy types will pursue you with brute force no matter how far you're prepared to run.
Unfortunately, Second Son's story mode does not last very long at all. The story starts and ends well, but the gameplay feels far too rushed in the 'middle'. The side missions are ridiculously repetitive, which will have you doing the exact same things at each district.
O V E R A L L
There's no denying that Second Son is a heavy hitting PS4 title. The graphical sparkle is stunning from beginning to end. Delsin is a likeable protagonist, surrounded by an exquisitely designed Seattle. The gameplay is fun, engaging and never afraid of throwing ultimate power your way. Some derivative and campaign length issues aside; there's no denying that Sucker Punch has poured every bit of their soul into producing this gorgeous game.