I think I’ve developed a bad attitude towards movies as of late. I look at the running time and I think ‘ooohh, that’s over two hours long. Just think what I could do with those two hours.’ Unless it’s a movie I really want to watch, I nine times out of ten will choose the alternative.
Not so with video games. I could play a game for that entire two hours and feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. Is that the nature of games? Is it because I’m an active participant in the proceedings as opposed to a phantom merely observing the goings-on of the characters that I don’t notice the time sliding away?
Maybe I should go read a book. Or work out. Or write my daily thousand words.
Nope. I think I’ll review a video game. That’s productive.
INFAMOUS: SECOND SON
A game came out a few years ago called InFamous, and in it you played the character of Cole McGrath, a very angry young man who gains the ability to control electricity. Your powers grew as the game progressed, until you could grind along monorail tracks and launch yourself off of skyscrapers, using the electricity in the air to propel you along. It was a generally good time, but the protagonist left most (including myself) dissatisfied with the overall arc and journey of the game.
In nearly every aspect, InFamous: Second Son is a much better game.
Four F-Yesses out of Five
This time around you’re in the shoes of Delsin Rowe, a member of the fictional Akomish tribe of the Pacific Northwest. I found it refreshing to have a Native American protagonist, and even more refreshing that the entire game didn’t become about the fact that Delsin was Native American. Too often writers and developers that make the choice to feature something other than ‘rugged white man’ as their MC focus entirely too much on the fact that the character isn’t a ‘rugged white man.’ This was never a problem with Second Son, and Sucker Punch deserves praise for that alone.
Delsin lives in an Akomish village, and one fine day a bus containing so-called ‘bio-terrorists’ crashes just outside the town. The bio-terrorists, or ‘Conduits’ as they prefer to be called, escape and flee. One of them heads into the village, and Delsin chases after him. Delsin and the Conduit have a tussle, and Delsin discovers that he’s a Conduit himself. An incredibly powerful one to boot, as he can absorb the power of any Conduit he physically contacts.
Your main mission through the game is to pursue the head of the D.U.P., the group assigned with the round-up and capture of bio-terrorists. Delsin and his brother have a great relationship, and their banter throughout is some of the better back-and-forth I’ve heard since Sully and Drake.
Four point five F-Yesses out of Five
The graphics are, in a word, astounding. Seattle is rendered in breathtaking fashion, the power effects are animated beautifully, and the facial expressions during cutscenes are getting closer and closer to reality with games like this. There is the tiniest bit of slowdown during combat when every enemy in town is after your blood, but not enough to truly take you out of the game.
I particularly enjoyed the neon effects at night when Delsin is racing around with Fetch, another Conduit you meet fairly early in the campaign.
The controls are well-mapped and easy to use. The light attack and heavy attack are the same buttons for each power, and the special moves are mapped the same way. You can switch powers fairly easily, simply by finding a source of the power you wish to use and getting Delsin to drain it.
I played the game on Normal which provided me a decent challenge. I enjoyed sailing around the city on the wings of various city-drained elements, and unveiling new skills and abilities with each power honestly gave me a little thrill of discovery each and every time. The RPG-lite skill tree was a nice addition, however completionists that race around looking for every ‘data shard’ will find the tree easy to fill and complete in relatively short order.
Four point five F-Yesses out of Five
I had a great time playing InFamous: Second Son. Fans of the series, and fans of third-person adventures will have fun in the world of Delsin Rowe. It is a much better game than the original InFamous, and that was already a pretty darn good game. Delsin is a great protagonist, and no matter which karmic angle you choose, you’ll find yourself crushing the D.U.P. with a smile on your face.