Fruitful in this Land of my Grief
Infamous Second Son (2014): 6 out of 10: A PlayStation exclusive that was the first game to show off the power of the PS4 (yay) and all the things the DualShock 4 controller can do (Not as much yay.)A soft reboot of the original Infamous series you play as Delsin Rowe who lives on a Native American reservation north of Seattle. One day a prison transport carrying conduits (basically X-Men) crashes and you accidentally absorb the powers of one of them. Now you have to go to Seattle with your sheriff brother to get a special power to save the nice Native Americans and defeat the evil government forces who have the city under martial law.
The game has you take down districts in a standard open world fashion. Each takedown ends with a large battle, which is usually well done. There are also four distinct boss battles related to gaining powers that are a little less successful. They are not as bad as say Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but they have the annoying habit of ignoring your progress and skills for a cheap arena battle.
The Good: The game is downright beautiful. The action is often fun and chaotic. You eventually get three powers (smoke, neon, and video) with a fourth power (concrete) available post game. The powers are different enough to be enjoyable and you will find your favorite. They restrict you to only one power at a time, which unfortunately restricts the ability to mix and match on the fly.
The game’s main character voiced by Troy Baker is not nearly as irritating as the promo materials would lead you to believe. His relationship with his brother is actually kind of touching. He does have that annoying Niko Bellic habit of not being able to see a plot twist dressed in neon orange with a well lit blinking arrow pointed at it however.
You main action loops of fighting the super-powered mooks and destroying their bases are fun with a decent mix of strategy and action.
The Bad: Unfortunately to clear the districts there are side activities such as graffiti tagging (complete with annoying motion controls) and Where’s Waldo (find the undercover agent.) These start out meh and become draining by the third district. There is no variety.
While your actions on the city of Seattle are permanent (destroyed guard towers stay destroyed), there is never any reason to visit a district once you cleared it. It is a lot of work for no payoff outside of progression.
Sometimes the game will decide it is night and it will continue to be night until you do a mission to advance the game and change the time of day. Side missions, in particular, are often a bear at night (or even dusk another popular choice) so one advances the game through main missions trying to get decent lighting so they can mop up the side missions. This takes one out of the narrative a tad.
Second Son continues the Infamous tradition of two paths one good and one evil. You get different attacks and a different ending depending on which you choose. There is no nuance, and it seems to have no effect on any story beats outside of the conclusion. Compared to even BioWare or Fable’s attempts at the same, it is a crude underutilized tool that never really satisfies and sometimes makes little sense.
In Conclusion: Infamous Second Son is a beautiful game with solid mechanics. It is also like playing Saints Row IV with all the fun bits removed. Everyone will take the same path with the same character. There is little creativity outside of some at the moment strategy while taking out bases. Enjoyable overall, it seems in a bit of a straightjacket that the game play cannot compensate for.