inFAMOUS Second Son is an entertaining blast through city streets using a choice of superpowers. Part of the inFAMOUS series and prequel to First Light, the game is visually appealing for a 2014 release. Considering it’s seven years since release, visually and mechanically its held up well despite its age. It suffers slightly from repetitive gameplay, but still manages to hold enough interest to keep playing.
Its a classic tale: Secret lab doing dodgy stuff goes wrong. Tearaway youngster accidentally gets caught up in aforementioned dodgy lab explosion…. BAM! One ready rolled character, primed with superpowers awaits!
Except in this case, the superpowers are passed through you as the conduit. Which took a while to get my head round. I’m effectively a means to harness existing power, rather than actually possessing it. You’re not able to claim possession of a superpower. You’ve just got the right genes to have one pass through you when you want. I get that its a technicality, but I was dissappointed I had to earn each superpower. Come on, the Hulk didnt have to do this much leg-work!
I was further dissappointed to find there are other Conduits out there with the same superpowers. It kind of took the edge off being the special one. I would normally raise the point of spiderman, that theres just one, but seems thats no longer the case either.
Power to the People
There are 3 powers to choose from, Concrete, Smoke and Neon. These give you various abilities from zooming like a neon light to gliding like a smoke cloud. Concrete, is just plain old concrete and felt fairly uninspiring. Unless you want to give people concrete boots, or perhaps lay some foundations for a decent new build garage. Its not a power I used often, as the others were more fun and quicker to traverse the sprawling map.
What Goes Around…
Karma plays an important part within inFAMOUS Second Son and makes up for the fact you’re just a superpower conduit. With a myriad of tasks to undertake, from beating up buskers to taking out drug dealers. You can choose to be a true superhero (well, conduit with superpowers), or you can be a bad-ass conduit. I couldnt really distinguish whether the choice of good or evil made any real difference in gameplay. It did open up certain upgrade paths for your powers. Theoretically, over time it should have been possible to be good before flipping to become an uncontrollable maniac.
In terms of the storyline, you’re essentially a tearaway youth battling against the system. Your character has every opportunity to disrupt the authorities and clean up the streets of buskers and dealers. Cleaning up the streets does not include graffitti. This fun pastime is provided to highlight what would happen if Sony and Nintendo had a love-child controller.
Its incredibly fun using the DualSense controller as a can of spraypaint, complete with ball-bearing in a can sound effects. Its heavily scripted and the multi-layer stencils dont exactly match. But it’s highly enjoyable spraying your good or evil karma tag on various buildings throughout the city. I’d have liked to see the option to spray cars, people and random shop windows! I understand its not that kind of game, but would be a blast to have those abilities.
A firm favourite of mine is the Neon power trait. Its quick, versatile, does plenty of damage, allows you to wall-run and looks amazing on-screen. The Smoke trait is also powerful and has the added abilities of semi-flight. Sadly, it lost the race to be my go-to trait as its cumbersome getting to the roof of most buildings.
With a 2014 release, there are a number of HDR settings provided. Taking into account the age of the game, it impressively runs in 4k on the PS4 Pro. Some of the tones are on the dark side but with tweaked settings, the results are impressive.
inFAMOUS Second Son is visually appealing with a great combat system and simple skill-tree make this a decent game. The repetitive nature of the missions over time can feel laborious at times. The added sub-plots of ridding the city of buskers, drug-dealers or drones helps break the monotony and refreshes the gameplay. If you experiment with the other superpowers too, you’ll soon wonder where the time went.