In inFAMOUS: Second Son you play as Delsin Rowe, a young man who discovers that he is a conduit, or a person with special powers. The Department of Unified Protection (DUP) calls such people "bioterrorists" and has put Seattle on lockdown in an effort to capture every conduit they could find.
Your job is to liberate the city from the DUP. Like the first two titles, Second Son's gameplay is based on a morality system that determines which powers you'll have access to. At the beginning you'll choose to be a hero or a villain and must act accordingly for the rest of the game to upgrade your powers.
Delsin has the ability to absorb the powers of other conduits but don't think you'll be going around town gaining new abilities left and right. You gain new powers at predetermined points in the narrative and will have exactly four by the end of the main campaign.
Controls are identical to 3rd person shooters but without a cover system. R2 shoots. Holding down L2 zooms for more precision, which is especially useful when you're playing the hero and need to aim for specific body parts to incapacitate rather than kill the enemy. Running and gunning otherwise is reliable and feels great.
R1 fires missiles and L1 shoots non-lethal grenades that immobilize most enemies for a brief period. Your most powerful weapon is the karmic bomb, which becomes available only after you fill a meter. You don't get to use it very often but it's devastating and can decimate every enemy caught in its radius.
Your ammo is finite and you can refill by going to the corresponding source and absorbing its essence (ie. smoke stacks and neon signs). This is also the only way you can select your power as there's no power wheel or a hot key for switching powers on the fly.
Up close you can use melee by pressing square. Delsin can't take too much damage so you must constantly be on the move. If your health is running low you can regenerate it by staying out of combat or you can drain a nearby power source for instant healing.
Combat is by far Second Son's strongest suit and makes up for most of the game's shortcomings. The controls are responsive and feel very natural. The effects and animations make each battle look spectacular. You'll often see explosions and bodies flying.
As repetitive as the game gets, I never grew tired of the combat. It's always exciting to watch Delsin move about the battlefield at supersonic speeds as he takes out the enemies one by one, using all the tools in his arsenal.
Combat is involved but never too complicated. Once you get the hang of the controls you'll feel like a real superhero (or super villain).
Outside of combat you are free to roam the city. You can't use vehicles but each power has a unique traversal property that allows Delsin to get around efficiently and in style.
If you're in the mood to fight you won't have to look for very long as Seattle has plenty of DUP strongholds and checkpoints that you can destroy at your leisure. There are also groups of drug dealers throughout Seattle for you to take down.
As for the story, it's nothing special but it's made very entertaining by some top notch voice acting and state-of-the-art facial animations that bring each character to life. Delsin and his brother Reggie are blatant ripoffs of Peter and Nathan Petrelli from the hit TV series, Heroes.
Even Reggie's death scene is nearly identical to Nathan Petrelli's
(END OF SPOILER).
The real standout however, is Augustine, who's the most intimidating villain I've ever seen in a video game. Her first encounter with Delsin instantly brought back memories of getting called into the vice principal's office when I was in junior high.
There's an unexpected twist near the end that truly made me question all the actions I've taken prior to that point. It made me wish that the game gave me one last chance to make a choice, but by then it was too late.
By the way, the graphics are awesome. Second Son is the best looking game on the market, period. PC gamers will whine like they always do and will start spewing off technical jargon and meaningless specs right about now to make their point because they don't have any game to show for. Second Son is a technical marvel all around, from the lighting, to the textures, particle effects, and animations.
My only complaint is with Delsin's climbing animations, which look as stiff and awkward as ever, especially when compared to games like Uncharted or Prince of Persia.
If I were to score Second Son strictly based on my level of enjoyment, it easily deserves a 5 out of 5 (or 10 out of 10). However I must consider all aspects and not all is well.
First is the absence of larger-than-life enemies that were common in inFAMOUS 2. With the exception of two boss fights, all your enemies are basic humans. Second Son lacks the fantasy vibe of previous installments, even with special DUP units that wield conduit powers.
Also, the last boss was a huge disappointment. The fight itself was fun, but it wasn't the epic showdown I had hoped for because it takes place inside a large room that resembles a hotel lobby. The streets of Seattle would've been the perfect setting for a final battle, with both you and your enemy causing tons of destruction across several blocks.
Lastly, Second Son is extremely short by open world standards, clocking in at around 12 hours. Granted, I didn't do every activity but I completed a good portion of them. Even a few standard escort missions would've benefited this game.
If you want longevity you can find it in replaying Second Son as a villain after you beat it as a hero, or vice versa, or you can play it at a higher difficulty setting. In all honesty, I enjoyed every moment in Second Son. The gameplay is addicting and I found it near impossible to put the controller down.
I know that a lot of gamers get turned off by any score lower than a 9/10, especially for what's considered a AAA exclusive,but you'ld be making a big mistake if you passed up on this game based on my numerical score, which officially is 8.5/10 (this website doesn't allow for half points so I had to round down). Second Son is an absolute must-have for PS4 owners and is a darn good reason to buy the console if you're still sitting on the fence.