I just beat inFamous Second Son the other day and overall I enjoyed the experience even if there were some annoyances along the way. For those unfamiliar with the series, you play as a person with special powers in an open city environment. Along the way you make clear-cut moral decisions that give you either good or evil karma which determines how the story plays out and what kind of powers you can utilize.
The game looks very good but not quite as good as some of the early footage we’ve seen. I don’t know what the framerate is exactly but it definitely didn’t feel stable. It really only seems to hit the low side during really large battles with a lot going on, especially if you activate your “kill everything on the screen” ability. Other than that I mostly experienced fluctuations on the higher end because I kept noticing sudden bursts of disorienting smoothness. That sounds stupid when I read it back but I don’t know how else to describe it. Personally I find that kind of thing jarring and really prefer a stable framerate.
The story takes place some time after the events of the first two games but doesn’t follow any of those characters. You play as a beanie-wearing and vest enthusiast who also likes to graffiti on the side. Along with having one of the most punchable faces I’ve seen he also sports a curiously stupid name: Delsin. It sounds like a dandruff shampoo and cold-medicine mash-up. I pretty much maintained that sentiment for a while before the game even came out. I later found out it is apparently a Native American name, which the character is, so cue white guilt and all that. At least until the character basically admits in a side conversation that his name is stupid and his mom got it from an old western movie. Now I don’t feel so bad.
Gameplay & Powers
In previous inFamous titles the main character had electricity-based super powers and later on in the sequel I think there was also Ice and something else. In this game Delsin doesn’t really have his own specific power. Instead he can absorb and copy the power of somebody else. What really confuses me about this game is their choice of powers. Rather than traditional elemental powers, aside from maybe Smoke which seems to be pretty much smoke and fire, you get to control synthetic things. The other powers are Neon, Video, and Concrete. Some other powers mentioned, but not attainable, are Wire, Glass, and Paper. I can’t seem to wrap my head around this concept. I mean, sure, it’s not like controlling earth or fire makes sense either but at least they are kind of base-line elements that can branch off to other things. I’m just trying to understand how somebody has the special ability to control specific things like concrete and paper. Why can they control those but not the elements they are made up from? How do you even absorb paper? Stuff a ream in your jacket?
Arguable stupid concept aside, the powers are actually pretty cool. Smoke lets you dash through fences and grating along with letting you shoot stuff. Neon lets you speed around super fast and run up buildings in addition to also shooting out beams. Video lets you go invisible and take down bad guys while also summoning angels and demons (from a video game IN the video game) and you can also shoot a torrent of video energy. Each “element” also has a melee component but they seemed mostly bare-bones from the good karma perspective, which is what I went with.
Speaking of which, I kind of felt a little disappointed that some of the cooler stuff was locked into evil karma. Good does get some interesting things as well but it seems like being evil gets you the fun toys. There is also some odd abilities locked behind each side. For some reason you need evil karma to be able to get more air from a smoke jump or good karma to run infinitely. I can understand lethal and non-lethal moves but that kind of thing is just confusing.
Other than the main mission you can complete various side activities. Some will net you specific karma from doing things like healing the sick or killing people. The side missions themselves are pretty lackluster. You will get to do stuff like hunt down radio frequencies, graffiti walls, engage in 5-second-long chases, etc. They did try something interesting with their Paper Trail side mission which is a lot like some of the really neat investigation-style quests in The Secret World. Parts of it will require you to take action on the website and solve puzzles and figure things out. Unfortunately most of this falls flat because they can’t seem to get their site working properly. It’s either down or just doesn’t seem to want to function. Trying to upload or confirm segments in game almost always fail, leaving you pretty much locked out of finishing the rest of the content until the website isn’t borked.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I still enjoyed the game despite the many annoyances I found. The game is very fun to play and that is pretty much all that matters. I think I might still prefer inFamous 2 but this is a decent first outing for next gen.