'Infamous: Second Son' Review (PS4)

'Infamous: Second Son' is out from 21 March exclusively for PS4.

Key Features:

  • Amazing next-gen graphics
  • Entertaining story, decent acting and characters
  • Powerful new superpowers and combat
  • Well-realised version of Seattle to explore
  • 10 hours of main campaign

The Pitch:

"inFAMOUS Second Son, a PlayStation 4 exclusive , brings you an action adventure game where surrounded by a society that fears them, superhumans are ruthlessly hunted down and caged by the Department of Unified Protection. Step into a locked-down Seattle as Delsin Rowe, who has recently discovered his superhuman power and is now capable of fighting back against the oppressive DUP. Enjoy your power as you choose how you will push your awesome abilities to the limit and witness the consequences of your actions as they affect the city and people around you."

The Verdict:

While it is an entertaining, action-packed brawler, a kinetic open-world adventure and utterly gorgeous, 'Infamous: Second Son' also comes across as a comment on the current state of next-gen consoles. Which is to say: you can have all the pyrotechnic power in the world at your disposal, but if you lack an imagination in the end there's not much more to do than blow up loads of stuff and go home.

In 'Second Son' you're cast as Delsin Rowe, a bratty Banksy wannabe who after a chance encounter with a 'Bio-Terrorist' (aka superhero-mutant 'Conduit') finds himself in possession of strange, magical powers - including the ability to shoot fireballs, propel himself through the air as a cloud of smoke and much more besides. Soon you're racing off to a nicely realised, if a little drab, version of Seattle to battle government soldiers and realise your destiny either as a hateful super-monster, or a heroic beacon of hope.

The game's look and feel is immediately arresting, and definitely a step above what was possible on the PS3. The cut-scenes in particular are stunning - every line and frown on the actor's faces are picked out in real-time, looking both realistic and cartoonish. During play the game is fast, explosive and frequently dazzling, as the bright colours of Delsin's powers contrast with the wet grime of the half-destroyed Seattle streets. It's not a dynamic world - there's no day-night cycle, and it doesn't feel grounded in the same way as GTA's Los Santos, for instance. But it hangs together, there's lots to do (and fight) and the game is generally well-written.

To its credit, the game also has a good sense of flow and speed, and keeping track of your ever-expanding range of powers and upgrades is easy enough even in the heat of battle. Movement across the city is bold and fast, as you quickly gain the ability to levitate with jet-pack-like boosts and super-speed jumps, and while the combat itself is laborious and reactive, it works well (except in the boss battles, which are too long).

Where the game falls down slightly is its lack of ambition: there's nothing here in pure gameplay terms that wasn't possible of the PS3 - or the N64, really - and the whole thing has a bit of a 'limited' feel. The inclusion of a moral compass - the decisions you make take you towards either the light or dark side of the hero's quest - is interesting but doesn't quite resonate in the story, or the resultant power unlocks that come with each choice. The issues with the combat also grate over time, as you're constantly forced to run from battle to recharge your powers elsewhere in the city.

The result is that 'Second Son' is a visually stunning, fun action game -- just one that's still one or two big ideas away from greatness.