Developer: Sucker Punch Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Protagonist vs Antagonist. Good Guy vs Bad Guy. Conduit vs D.U.P. It’s a staple formula within the gaming industry, having the game’s protagonist set out on a journey to defeat the evil antagonist and restore peace and order to the world. Sometimes, however, who the good and bad guys are in a game aren’t as clear cut as that, with inFAMOUS Second Son being an example of this.
For those unfamiliar to the game, inFAMOUS Second Son places you in the shoes of Delsin Rowe, an Akomish (a Native American tribe) inadvertently turned Conduit (a human who has gained superhuman powers) at the hands of Hank, an escaped Conduit. Delsin gains the powers after the bus which was transporting Hank and 2 other Conduits crashes, allowing the three conduits to escape and Hank to unknowingly share his powers with Delsin.
The premise of the game is simple, use the smoke powers you gain from Hank, along with other powers which you obtain along the course of the game to defeat the boss of the D.U.P. (a Government funded organisation designed to clear Seattle of its conduit population) Brooke Augustine. With the premise of the game as simple as that, it’s pretty easy to figure out that you’re supposed to be the good guy, and Augustine the bad guy. However, it isn’t as simple as that, since every action you make within the game has an impact, and can even end up causing you to switch roles.
Shown through the game’s Karma system, split into 2 sections for good and evil and each with 5 subsections, every action will either lose or gain you karma points. Those protesters you just attacked to edge another step closer to a trophy? They’re just designed to give you evil karma points, taking you a small step closer towards becoming Infamous. That drug deal you’ve just busted? Good karma points are headed your way.
Whilst it might seem pointless to have separate levels for each karma type, the mechanic introduces an almost RPG element to the game by allowing you to upgrade your powers based on the type of karma you have, and also the sub-level of karma you have within that. Using the blast shards you extract from D.U.P. tracker drones that you can find along the course of the game, you have the ability to upgrade your powers to give each new perks, causing the game to be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. With all but one blast shard being available as soon as you’ve tackled the second main mission in the game, this allows you in theory to upgrade each power as you obtain it to its max stats, providing of course that you have reached the highest karma level – either True Hero or Infamous based on your Karma type. This allows for you to either breeze through the game (as I did on my second run through) by being majorly overpowered throughout the majority of the game, or allows you to improve stats as you go along and as such make the game more challenging.
If you decide to take the latter option, and only collect shards and upgrade your stats as you come to them, then you can expect some extremely good boss battles, that actually challenge you to make use of all of the skills you learn whilst playing the game. The final boss battle is a personal highlight of mine, without going into too much detail to avoid spoilers, had me on the edge of my seat (well, bed) throughout the whole of the battle, it was that intense. There’s no shame in running from battles if necessary, in fact, you’re encouraged to do so, since hiding and staying out of combat heals you. So, should you find any boss battle too much, run and hide and all shall be fine.
The type of karma you have upon finishing the game will also have an effect on the final cut scene that you see, as it is based solely on the karma type you have upon finishing the game. You will be rewarded with a good ending for if you have ‘True Hero’ status; whereas you shall be rewarded with a bad one should you have ‘Infamous’ status.
The game, sadly, isn’t without its imperfections however. The major fault is the length of the game, with it only taking around 6 hours to complete the main story, and not too much longer than that if you want to go for 100% completion. Even as someone who’s never played an inFAMOUS game before, I was left staring at the credits screen after just 7 hours. Admittedly those 7 hours were 7 hours well spent, but I couldn’t help but just be left wanting more.
Another is the amount of post game content, as upon finishing the main storyline, you’re left with one mission giving a back story to the D.U.P. and the ability to clear the map of enemies. Aside from that, however, there’s nothing else to do unless you’re willing to take your chances with the randomly spawning people in Seattle to obtain the trophies for killing certain amounts of each.
inFAMOUS Second Son is without a doubt a fun game, featuring likeable characters, gorgeous visuals and stellar gameplay. For the 6 or 7 hours it’ll take you to complete the game, you’ll barely be able to put down the controller as you get immersed in the task of clearing the D.U.P. from Seattle. However, unless you’re someone who is able to fully appreciate quality over quantity, then chances are you’ll wish there was more content to sink your teeth into.