Oh to have superpowers while living in Seattle. Bellevue based developer, Sucker Punch Productions, sets their newest chapter of their inFAMOUS series in Seattle with a new protagonist and encourages us to, "Enjoy your powers." OK inFAMOUS Second Son, we'll just see about that.
Set seven years after the events in inFAMOUS 2, the government has determined that all Conduits (people with super powers) are dangerous. They have created the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.) to hunt down and capture all Conduits. In order to create fear and promote cooperation from the public the D.U.P.'s propaganda refers to Conduits as BioTerrorists.
You play as Delsin Rowe, an Akomish Native American. Delsin, a good-natured delinquent and a graffiti artist, is "customizing" a billboard that features his older brother, Reggie who is the local sheriff. Just as he is finishing up his brother arrives on the scene. Knowing that if his brother catches him he'll be arrested, family or not, Delsin concocts a plan. If he can sneak his way over to the Akomish Long House where a celebration is going on, he can use that as his alibi. He almost gets away with it, but Reggie meets him at the door to the Long House as he arrives. As Reggie is admonishing him for having to yet again arrest his younger brother, Delsin notices something; an armored car driving erratically right towards them. He quickly gets his brother's attention and pushes him out of the way as it crashes into a parked car near them.
Getting up they see two people in orange overalls run off. Reggie tells Delsin to stay put and away from the burning wreckage of the armored car as he chases after the escapees. Ignoring his brother, Delsin investigates the wreck and finds an escapee trapped under the back door. As he helps him up Reggie returns. Spooked at the sight of sheriff the escapee grabs Delsin and tells Reggie to back off. When Reggie pulls his weapon the escapee draws smoke and cinders from the burning wreck and starts firing them at Reggie. Attempting to keep him from hitting his brother Delsin grabs the prisoner's arm. The connection sends a powerful shock through him, knocking him out. Delsin has a series of brief and fleeting visions of the prisoner, named Hank, being tortured in jail.
When Delsin comes to moments later, his brother and Hank are gone. As he starts to take a step to find his brother he suddenly turns into smoke and instantly moves forward a yard or two. Confused and panicked, Delsin starts yelling for his brother and attempts to walk again, with similar results. Forcing himself to calm down he starts to be able to walk normal. He soon finds his brother and Hank. Hank blasts a car onto its side, pinning Reggie, and runs off. As Delsin helps get the car off Reggie his strange new his powers manifest again, causing him to blast the car off Reggie. Panicked and scared Reggie knows he needs to help calm him down.
Reggie gets Delsin to focus on the fact he needs him to help catch the prisoner who has run into a salmon cannery owned by a family friend, Betty. Seeing that they are locked out Delsin uses his powers to become smoke and enter the cannery through a vent. Hank has set fire to place in attempt to distract everyone, only he find that Betty is still in the cannery. As Hank is trying to grab Betty, Delsin confronts him and tells him to "fix this" to take these powers from him. Hank tells him that he has no idea how Delsin got Hank's power. In the ensuing fight Delsin gets a firm grip on Hanks again and inadvertently reads his mind. He finds out Hank's history as a criminal and how, when his powers manifested, he went on the spree of robberies. When he was caught he was put in a D.U.P. prison where he was experimented on. As they both come to Hank again escapes out the door. When Delsin exits behind him he finds that the head of the D.U.P., Brook Augustine, a powerful Conduit who has power over concrete, has caught Hank. Thinking that Hank told Delsin something they question him. When he gives evasive answers she starts to torture him. Depending on how the player chooses to answer (you can continue refusing to answer or confess which Augustine will not believe) she will cause a massive amount of pain. As he passes out he sees Augustine start to torture Betty.
Delsin wakes up a week later all the damage Augustine has done to him is healed. He sees that they have turned the Long House into a makeshift hospital. Augustine tortured most of the tribe to make sure none of them had learned any information from the prisoners. He finds his brother who explains to him that everyone she tortured is not healing, but they are in fact slowly dying. Delsin, with his newly found powers, is the only one to recover. Realizing that his power is the ability to absorb powers from other Conduits, he convinces Reggie they need to go to Seattle where the D.U.P. is headquartered so that he can absorb Augustine's power to undo the damage and heal everyone. Reggie reluctantly agrees and they head off to confront Augustine.
Controls and Gameplay
inFAMOUS Second Son is one of my favorite styles of game, the sandbox superhero style. You can do story and side missions at your own leisure and really explore the world. The controls are simple and easy to pick up. You will gain different power sets as you play. Each has its own distinctions, but in general control very similar. So when you switch from one to the other you don't have to worry about drastic changes. I don't want to spoil the surprise so I'm not going to go into detail, but each power is unique enough that you'll find yourself preferring one over another. Additionally,your powers will be affected depending on which type karma (good or evil) you are pursuing.
Graphics and Sound
The realistic art style Sucker Punch uses for inFAMOUS Second Son really shows off the power of the PlayStation 4. Talking with a couple of the developers at the launch party, they said they could have set the game at 60 frames per second (fps) and it supposedly looked phenomenal. Instead they set it at 30 fps because they were unsure if the PlayStation 4 could keep the game at a steady 60 fpsand not dip into a lower frame rate causing stuttering in the game. Even at 30 fps it's beautiful; from the sheen of wet pavement to the detail of a brick building.
The audio is a treat too. The natural background sounds are Seattle, right down to the seagulls. The voice acting is well done, especially between Delsin and Reggie. The banter between the two actors flows naturally like they could have actually grown up together.
inFAMOUS Second Son has captured me. When Sucker Punch announced that it was going to take place in Seattle, I was a little skeptical; even though they are based in Bellevue, WA. Were they going to create a generic city? Throw the Space Needle in a randomized background and call it Seattle? My skepticism faded a bit when I saw the first gameplay video they released. It was a battle set at the Pacific Science Center with enough details that Sucker Punch showed they weren't messing around. Then I got my copy of the game. On one hand WOW!, on the other hand mild disappointment. My disappointment stems from the fact that it's not an exact replica of Seattle, but really that would be asking a lot of any developer for any city. But the WOW factor is the amount of detail they did put in. Each section of the city captures the look and feel of the neighborhood it represents. The only exception is the area around the D.U.P. headquarters which, given the feeling they wanted to convey of martial law, fits it better. There are a ton of hidden little details that only a resident of Seattle would notice. For example the "infamous" gum wall is hidden away in the city, if you know what your are looking for you can find it. Also a friend commented on a screen capture I posted to Facebook that it looked exactly like the building he worked in.
While the look is one part of the game, the gameplay really blows you away. You feel like a superhero. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, destroying D.U.P. mobile control centers, chasing down flying drones it all conveys a feeling of being powerful. Couple that with Delsin's attitude that this is the coolest thing that's ever happened to him and you have a fun game you can lose yourself in. I had quite a few moments where I would tell myself, just one more side mission or just going to chase down this blast shard real quick, and the next thing I know it's 6 a.m. I got so into it that when I told my roommate that I had plans for working around the house one day, she responded that I better do the work before turning on inFAMOUS Second Son or I wouldn’t get anything done!
inFAMOUS Second Son is a lot of fun. A good game, great story, and awesome treat for Seattleites; not only does it get a 5 out of 5, but it's an early contender for my game of the year. That is how much I enjoyed it.
inFAMOUS Second Son is rated T for Teen for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, and Violence by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
For more information see the inFAMOUS Second Son web site.