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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Better late than never... inFAMOUS Second Son Review!

Can you all believe I have owned, played, and 100% the ever loving daylights out of this game (and thoroughly enjoyed every second of it) and never even ONCE mentioned it on this blog? Well today I'm giving arguably one of the best PS4 games ever made a review on this very blog! What game might that be?

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Why have I never reviewed or even MENTIONED inFAMOUS Second Son at all? Well, I meant to review it back in 2015, but then Undertale happened. Then I tried to review it a few months later, but then Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth happened. And then I tried reviewing last Christmas, but then the Nintendo Switch happened. But now that the big heavy hitters of 2017 are right around the corner like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn, both of which look so good it hurts, now is the best time to review this game before those aforementioned heavy hitters make me forget to review it a fourth time.

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But what exactly IS inFAMOUS Second Son? It's actually the third title in a trilogy of games known as the inFAMOUS franchise. But I know what you're thinking. "Ugh, this game is the third part of a trilogy? Better hold off until I play the first two games so I won't get confused by the story!". Don't do that. inFAMOUS Second Son is a bit of an oddball. It's effectively it's own stand-alone game, and as someone who played this game first, I can safely say that if you DIDN'T know there were multiple inFAMOUS games, this game doesn't provide any hints of being a part of a preexisting franchise safe for some really obscure hints. But the general gist of the inFAMOUS games is basically "use parkour and matter-themed superpowers, like Smoke for example, to either save or destroy a beautiful city".

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But that's where the similarities to the previous games end. inFAMOUS Second Son stars a young Native American man named Delsin Rowe and after three prisoners known as Conduits (basically they have matter-themed superpowers like Delsin) escape from a military force known as the D.U.P. (Department of United Protection), he goes on an adventure to save his friends from death by Earthbending, acquiring new abilities on the way. But here's the catch. Just like a certain indie game I shall not name, inFAMOUS Second Son has a morality system that will result in both more refined abilities as well as two different endings, and unlike that certain indie game, this game won't punish you for trying to get the Bad Ending (if anything it REWARDS you for getting that ending, since the Evil powers are, in my opinion, more useful for combat, which is the game's strong suite).

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Now I have only one problem with inFAMOUS Second Son's story. And this paragraph WILL contain spoilers (to be fair, this is a late arrival spoiler because the game has been out since 2013), but this issue drives me insane (to remain unspoiled, skip this paragraph). Shortly before the first battle against the villain of the game, Brooke Augustine, Delsin's brother Reggie (keep in mind, Reggie is a police officer) tells him he's always been proud of him before suffering death by Earthbending. While this makes perfect sense and makes for a decent tearjerker on a Hero run (where you defeat enemies using ONLY non-lethal attacks and protect civilians to the best of your ability), but on the titular Infamous run (where you murder just about everything that moves), it causes a MASSIVE plot-hole because I really doubt Reggie, who is a FLIPPING POLICE OFFICER, would be proud of his brother for becoming a serial killer. The ONLY way he could say this and have it make sense is if he DIDN'T know his younger brother has become public enemy No. 1, and that possibility is EXTREMELY unlikely since if you start an Infamous run, the local police force will be given orders to shoot you on sight.

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But ignoring this frustrating plot hole, the story itself is actually surprisingly good. Because quite frankly, the ONLY problem with the story was that spoilerific plot hole mentioned above. All the characters are memorable and some are relatable. And something I will applaud inFAMOUS Second Son for is how it uses dark themes in it's story-telling (this is probably the reason this game is rated T for Teen lol). For example, fan-favorite character Fetch Walker used to be a drug addict and accidently killed her own brother during a drug withdrawal. Now she's going around killing every drug dealer that dares to set foot in Seattle! That's a bit extreme, but hey! Less living criminals equals lower crime rates! Utilitarian philosophy for the win! :D

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Fetch is actually so popular there's a DLC you
can buy that not only adds a few extra hours of
content, but also lets you play as Fetch!

And before I spoil even more a four-year-old video game's plot, let's move onto gameplay, and boy oh boy, I LOVE the gameplay.

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The entire game takes place in Seattle, and as a open-world action-adventure game, the open world is beautiful. As long as it's within Seattle borders, you can go pretty much anywhere. And because of the trademark inFAMOUS parkour system, you can climb up basically any wall you want, save for few... Until you gain access to some of the later abilities, which let you effectively fly ("...in three languages!"- Reggie, 2013). Speaking of abilities, I really like what they picked to base Delsin's ever-expanding repertoire of powers off of. Like, they don't seem that useful on paper (especially the Video power), but in practice are not only really cool, but also surprisingly imaginative.

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Combat in inFAMOUS Second Son is also really great. While you do have a melee weapon in the form of Delsin's chain whip (wait a minute! Delsin's weapon of choice is a chain whip... The very fisrt power he gets is Smoke... OMG! Delsin is a literal Chain Smoker!), it doesn't deal a whole lot of damage. Heck, later on it becomes impossible to even USE the chain whip due to increasingly agile enemies staying out of range. So, what's the solution to that problem? It's the various powers you get throughout the game that make me love inFAMOUS Second Son's combat. Borrowing some aspects from shooter games, each "power" I've been mentioning are basically a set of abilities that change Delsin's fighting style on a dime. From the easy-to-use, mid-range Smoke to the sniper-tastic Neon (this one is my personal favorite, partly because it's pretty and partly because I like sniping in just about any game that isn't Splatoon), to the stealth/close-quarters hybrid Video and the hilariously overpowered jack-of-all-trades Concrete. In addition to this, each power gives you the player a choice. Either take down your opponents non-fatally, or kill'em all! And the way the non-lethal powers work is also really fun. Example, shooting a D.U.P. soldier in the leg with Neon will immobilise him, but keep him alive, while scoring a headshot is as lethal as you can expect. However! Smoke allows for non-lethal headshots (the smoke works like knockout gas!) and even has a AoE stun move. All the powers perform differently, and no two feel the same. My only complaint with the combat is how you switch powers. To switch powers, all you got to do is find an object in the environment to "recharge" the desired power (smoke-stacks, neon signs, TV screens, etc.). My problem here is out of sheer muscle memory gained from games that have multiple interchangeable abilities/weapons as well, I keep pressing the D-pad, expecting Delsin to switch powers, but have nothing happen instead. I'm probably the only person like this, but still

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As for graphics, inFAMOUS Second Son is a beautiful game. All the powers are excellently animated, and the character designs are nice. I appreciate how all the main characters look like normal, everyday people and don't have weird, impractical outfits that look utterly ridiculous (*Rina, I'm looking at you). I also like how Delsin is designed to strongly resemble his voice actor, Troy Baker. Speaking of voice acting, I really like the voice acting in this game. All the characters sound natural and believable.

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I know this is a small thing, but I really like the 
lighting in this game. It makes Neon even prettier
than before!

Something that doesn't sound as good as the voice acting is the music. The music isn't unbearable, but the only pieces of the soundtrack I remember are the main theme (which is dark and ominous-sounding) and the music that plays when you fight the third and final Escaped Conduit (which is the epitome of awesome!). Everything else is just okay... But not great.

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Another thing that I am not really the biggest fan of is how short the game is. It will take you about 5 hours to beat the main story, and another 3 hours to 100% the game. Even if you add doing an alternate run (i.e. doing an Infamous run after completing the Hero run) that still is only 16 hours total, so longevity is not one of inFAMOUS Second Son's strong points.

So overall, I give this game a 9/10. A great game perfect for anyone who likes action-adventures or just want a decent PS4 exclusive game. Oh, did I forget to mention that the entire inFAMOUS franchise is owned by Sony and as such is exclusive to Sony systems like the PS family? Because it is.

*Rina is a character from the Digimon video games and I cannot take her seriously due to how silly her outfit looks.

P.S. I had the funniest reason ever for buying this game. It came out EXACTLY on my birthday, and the entire reason I got it was because I watched a trailer where Delsin uses Smoke to burn an Emoji into the side of a building, saw the release date and found so funny it came out EXACTLY on my birthday that I went ahead and got the game simply because of it's amusing (in my eyes) release date. Good thing I did, because this game is actually really good.

P.P.S. Now that I'm thinking about, the amount of profanity in this game might be the reason it's rated T for Teen... Seriously, at least one character curses in every other cutscene. Like, there's no F-bombs or anything of that ilk, but if you have watched just about any PG-13 superhero movie (such as Avengers) then the profanity is akin to that.

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