Can it be true? Can the Prophets have spoken true? Has the age come at last where a first-party exclusive title is released for the PS4? Oh yes friends, it has indeed, in the form of a sequel to the best non-DC/non-Marvel superhero videogame franchise ever.
For those of us unaware, the Infamous world is very much like ours, except that some people are born with the latent capacity to gain superhuman powers. These powers were only rarely unleashed, until an event 7 years ago (at the end of Infamous 2) where the protagonist, Cole McGrath, sacrificed himself to save the world, but in the process activated the powers of nearly all latent Conduits, as they are referred to. In the present day, such persons are referred to as Bio-Terrorists, and are incarcerated indefinitely by an immensely powerful pseudo-government agency. You play as Delsin Rowe, a young roguish man from a Native American tribe in Washington state, who finds his life turned upside down when his tribe is attacked and a conduit accidentally gives him his powers, and he must flee to nearby Seattle, in order to find the people responsible and save those injured.
The game has very little connectivity to the previous title in terms of plot, and all the relevant points are laid out at the start, so that new players find themselves very welcome, and those familiar with the series find enough tidbits and Easter eggs to entertain them. Seattle is an interesting and underused location in gaming, and having it be open world provides a sense of excitement to be going through somewhere that isn’t pseudo-New York again, for once.
Delsin starts the game with what is dubbed “Smoke Powers;” he can travel and dash as a cloud of smoke, traversing buildings and sliding through gates, and he can attack by hurling burning embers and fire at enemies. Throughout the game, he gains more power sets that reflect more aspects of the city, and these are switched between by absorbing that element from an item in the world. Travel and combat are both a lot smoother than the previous title, and you can zip around very easily.
Aside from the main missions, you have sidequests in each region of the city that are of a similar type, and which all generally remove military control in that region, reducing the number of enemies you come across. These are generally all fun, but there is only about 4 kinds of them, and some are very nonsensical. (How does making a graffiti tag force a government to leave?). Aside from these, there are also random events, color coded blue or red for your convenience, that can be attempted, and which tie in the moral system present in every title in this series. Players can either be Heroic, or Infamous, and their abilities and attitudes in scenes change to reflect this. While it does provide a reason to do the game twice through, the attitudes are very black and white, ranging from kitten-eating evil, to angelic cherub, with little middle ground.
Delsin is a fun character, and is perhaps a bit more dynamic in his approach to life than Cole was, and is quite fun to listen to. However, the downsides of this game are largely that the plot is much weaker, and that there is very little to do after finishing the game, you end up with an almost-ghost world, inhabited only by screaming or cheering pedestrians. Second Son is a worthy inclusion in the franchise, and is a wonderful superhero simulator and a very good exclusive title for the PS4. It just isn’t life changing, but that’s alright too.