‘inFAMOUS: Second Son’ Review Roundup: Game’s Pros Outweigh Cons
Now that the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U have hit the market, the future of console gaming has indisputably arrived. But just like previous console generations, this one is off to a slow start when it comes to big, system-selling games. It goes back to the whole “chicken and the egg” thing: Game makers are hesitant to create games for new consoles because not many people own them yet. Likewise, customers are slow to buy new consoles because not enough enticing games are available for them.
InFAMOUS: Second Son is one of the first big PlayStation 4 exclusives to hit the market. The question is: Is it any good? Let’s take a look at how critics have responded to the game.
The general critical response to inFAMOUS: Second Son has been positive but not overwhelmingly so. Metacritic, the great aggregator of critical opinion, has averaged out dozens of reviews to come up with an overall score of 80 out of 100. That’s pretty good, but let’s take a closer look at where the game succeeds and stumbles.
The world of inFAMOUS is not too different from that of Marvel’s X-Men: A handful of people have developed superpowers, leaving the rest of society somewhat nervous about their armed-and-dangerous neighbors.
The superpowered people in inFAMOUS call themselves “conduits,” while their enemies prefer the term “bio-terrorists.” Despite the comic book premise, inFAMOUS: Second Son sports a darker, more realistic tone than its predecessors. The game’s chief villains are the Department of Unified Protection (DUP), a government team devoted to capturing conduits.
The game stars Delsin Rowe, a young man who can do a number of superhuman actions like turn into smoke, manipulate neon, and sprint up the sides of buildings. Using these abilities, according to Chris Sullentrop of The New York Times, “is, as you might expect, totally delightful.”
It’s a morally binary world in inFAMOUS: Second Son, so the game pauses occasionally to let you decide how your character will respond in certain situations, much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. However, Philip Kollar, who reviewed the game for Polygon, was unimpressed by the choices on offer. “I had trouble feeling much connection to my choices when they were so cleanly split between being a decent human and an absolute monster,” he says. He also complains that your choices don’t affect the plot as much as you might expect.
Vince Ingenito over at IGN had similar concerns. He calls the choice system “woefully outdated, and disconnected from Delsin’s personal motivation of healing his injured tribemates. There’s nothing in the story that suggests that he’d ever be interested in killing innocent civilians, or that his police officer brother would be okay with it if he did, and yet you’re clearly incentivized to murder everybody you see if you want to make the most of your evil playthrough.”
Rather than sticking you in linear environments like many games, inFAMOUS: Second Son takes place in an open-world version of Seattle that you can explore at will. However, just because a game lets you go anywhere doesn’t mean there’s a wide variety of things to do. According to Hollander Cooper of GamesRadar, “You’re never really doing anything different from zone to zone, and while the act of taking out DUP checkpoints and chasing down audio logs might never turn full-on boring, it definitely loses its freshness the further you get.”
On the other hand, the graphics make excellent use of the PlayStation 4′s powerful hardware. Evan Narcisse at Kotaku says: “A stunning amount of graphical detail whizzes by as you vault through Second Son’s Queen City. The gameworld feels richly and variably textured, mixing up sleek high-rises, wooded areas and burnt-out concrete towers under an impressive array of lighting.” Additionally, most of the reviewers agree that the characters look remarkably realistic, from their movements to their facial expressions.
Overall, with its simplistic morality system and lack of open-world variety, inFAMOUS: Second Son might not pave the way to a totally new future of gaming, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The critics overwhelmingly agree that the graphics are fantastic, the story is intriguing, and the gameplay makes you feel like a superhero.