With great power, comes great responsibility.
Way back in 2009 gamers were given the ability to harness great power, but whether they were responsible or not, that was up to them. Though getting to play as superheroes in video games isn’t uncommon (quite the opposite actually), the inFAMOUS series is one of the few in which writing, gameplay and aesthetics blend seamlessly together in perfect harmony. Created by the team behind Sly Cooper, it was always going to help that they had one of the best Playstation series’ in their repertoire.
With inFAMOUS: Second Son headlining the PS4s launch window, as a series veteran myself, I couldn’t be happier to get gifted with powers once more. If you’ve yet to pick up an inFAMOUS title, then firstly I might suggest you take a dip into its back catalogue and play from the first game onwards. Initially taking lead as Cole MacGrath, you accidentally acquire the ability to use electricity after a huge bomb is detonated in what is known as Empire City. Allowing you to drain direct from the city’s highly energised terrain, you were also able to upgrade via leeching from ‘blast shards’, which were essentially pieces of the bomb that went off. Whether you went past a car, hopped onto train tracks or came across any other electrical device, you were therefore able to refill your power, becoming almost unstoppable in the process.
The sticking point for the series has always been giving choice to the player, as per the famous quote at the beginning of this article, “a great amount of responsibility is bestowed upon anyone that has great power”, question is, do you use it for good or bad? Whichever stance you took, a reasonable amount of consequence would lay ahead, leaving you out as the villain or the hero come the end of the game. In Second Son this premise hasn’t changed, but the character you control has.
Taking place seven years after the events of the second game, Sucker Punch has decided to continue with the good ending of the last title, meaning Cole MacGrath sacrificed himself to eliminate any remaining Conduits (people with the ability to obtain powers). With the world thinking that the day of supers was over, it became apparent that the Conduit gene resurfaced and therefore made the government come into effect with the Defense of Unified Protection (D.U.P). After a while it seems as though the D.U.P had been successful, but while they start to taper-off the task force, something bigger is waiting in the wings and that’s the somewhat ordinary, Delsin Rowe.
In spirit, Delsin operates much like Cole, free-running over obstacles and scaling buildings in quick succession. Whereas Cole had his friend Zeke over the first two games, Delsin has his brother, Reggie. I’d be hard-pushed to say their relationship is peachy, especially since Reggie is the local Sheriff and Delsin’s always caught up with vandalising billboards in his spare time. At the beginning of the game you start in your home town, located on the coastline in the state of Washington. After a spot of spray painting, things quickly turn from bad to worse, when a nearby D.U.P. transport, carrying a handful of Conduits crashes, leading to a breakout. After Delsin comes into contact with one of the prisoners amidst a scuffle, he blacks out and wakes up to mayhem. With everything on fire and a large amount of wreckage lining the road, it soon becomes apparent you can now turn into smoke and move through objects. Delsin, it appears, is a Conduit. Shooting forward and out of spoiler territory, you swiftly make the move to Seattle, the city of which is large, detailed and as you’d expect, complete with its iconic space needle.
There’s no denying that Second Son looks stunning, particularly once you explore the living, breathing city. However, the real beauty starts when you use your powers. Similar to the second game, Second Son paces itself very well, allowing you to upgrade your powers along the way, as well as gaining new abilities, each with their own unique effect and style. Next to the main campaign, which I’d say is rather short compared to past titles, there’s plenty to accomplish outside of the story. Whether you want to get involved with secret missions to take down surveillance, or prefer to take back the city from the D.U.P. one piece at a time, that’s fine too.
Being GOOD, by Josh | As you’d expect
As always it’s up to you how you play through inFAMOUS, whether you operate under the guise of a villain or a hero. I personally played my entire playthrough with the intention of becoming a hero, dealing out justice with non-lethal consequences. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t kill any innocents, but to be honest, those that I did got in my way. Across each game I’ve never once started my first playthrough with the intention of becoming a villain, however, the powers do tend to be a little more awesome. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot, though, being good is great!
If you’re the type of person who prefers to get their hands dirty in the middle of a ‘good’ playthrough, then no matter, you shouldn’t expect to suddenly turn bad if you do so. In order to really turn to the dark side you need to rack up a lot of bad karma. Coming across as the nice guy is fine, but at certain moments in the game you’ll be greeted by two alternate choices to a person’s fate or a particular situation. Unlike a game such as Mass Effect, where you have the power to detail your dialogue or decision, it’s very black and white in Second Son; you either pick blue for good or red for bad, it’s that simple. I hope we come to experience a more in-depth system in the future, but overall I wasn’t too fussed.
Being BAD, by Tom | A spectacle to behold
Playing inFAMOUS: Second Son as the hero is a great experience but playing as the baddy is completely different and, in some ways, more fun.
I’ve never been a fan of following down the route of evil; the destruction and carnage that comes with it makes me feel bad and constantly lays on mind. But saying that I definitely still enjoyed playing as the twisted Delsin Rowe.
You might be wondering what actually differs when it comes to good and evil karma? The storyline varies but not at all stages. At some points during the game you’ll have to complete a mission with Reggie, your brother, and these don’t change whether you’re good or evil. The cutscenes stay the same as well as the objectives to complete within the mission. When it comes to evil karma the ability upgrades available to you greatly contrast to that of good karma.
During my playthrough as a hero I noticed that the majority of the upgrades were erring on the side of passive; little helpers that would aid you in subduing as many enemies a possible. As you can imagine, evil karma was all about power and chaos. Adding more projectiles to your heavy attack, or the ability to dash and instantly kill an enemy in front of you. I can safely say that choosing the evil karma route makes the gameplay easier. You don’t have to constantly worry about civilians that you could potentially kill, or whether you might accidentally kill an enemy instead of subduing them. I found myself using my karmic ability much more frequently. This ability stacks up karma and once you have enough stored you can unleash a devastating attack that will annihilate anyone and anything nearby.
As I said earlier, playing as an evil Delsin Rowe rested uncomfortably on my mind. The choices I made during the game were not ones I would usually take. And at times these choices would cause a dangerous rift between Delsin and Reggie, a rift that I would much rather avoid. Also choosing evil karma affects your allies, their thoughts and actions; transforming a shy, nerdy gamer into someone who has the ability to destroy anything in his path, and will do so, is scary. If I hadn’t have played as the hero first I’m sure this wouldn’t have been so bad for me. But I already knew what the other conduits could achieve with a little guidance and I knew it was because of me that they had such a blood thirst for the D.U.P.
Overall choosing evil karma was a fun and challenging experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t given it a go yet. But be warned, hard choices will follow.
- + Interesting mix of powers
- + Beautiful graphics
- + With its rock soundtrack and colourful visuals, it’s sure got soul
- - Story suffers from a lack of an engaging plot
- - Climbing over obstacles with a lack of powers can be quite cumbersome