Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Sucker Punch
Platforms: PS4
Release date: Out Now

As a kid who didn’t daydream of magically acquiring superpowers that would enable you to pretty much do anything you wanted. For most, being able to shoot bursts of energy out of the hands was at the top of their superhero power list. Herein lies the charm of Infamous Second Son, where you play as the young Delsin Rowe who has been bestowed with great powers and even greater responsibility.

In a word, Second Son is stunning to look at. Heads were waiting for that true next gen game to hit and with the horsepower of the PS4 Second Son is a visual treat. In every street-side puddle reflection Delsin romps around in the city of Seattle which is beautifully detailed. Calm city streets turn into fiery disaster zones with regularity when Delsin unleashes his powers, and both the before and after are dope to look at. You'll find yourself staring in awe at the game's use of lighting effects and brightness, especially once you acquire your Neon powers. Delsin who’s a young rebellious free spirit enjoys decorating the streets of Seattle with his graffiti. The world that he inhibits is one full of fear and the superhero Conduits have been labeled bio terrorists, while a Big Brother-style militia called the DUP (Department of Unified Protection) controls most cities. The DUP is headed up by Brooke Augustine - a character who is a Conduit herself - and Delsin encounters the last few remaining Conduits in Seattle in order to take her down. Delsin’s rebellious youth was spent spray painting anything with a viable surface while avoiding the wrath of his older brother, Reggie, who happens to be a police officer.

Like a typical cop Reggie has his own firm beliefs in what's right and what will get you thrown in a cell. If there was one gripe I had, it’s that during the first hour of Second Son, you're stuck watching a ton of cutscenes that are necessary to set up the story. After a while it felt like a hindrance from doing what I was anxiously waiting to do which was exploring the gorgeous city. However, once you're set loose in Seattle, the amount of cutscenes lessen considerably allowing for free flowing action. Delsin's a power absorber with the ability to replicate the talents of other Conduits. He winds up getting different power sets throughout the game. Smoke is the first attribute Delsin wields in the game, letting him blast fiery projectile attacks, instantly shoot to the tops of buildings as a smoldering cloud and send groups of thugs into paralyzing coughing fits. Then you get Neon, a glowing complement of super speed abilities that lets you do slow motion sniping and run up walls. All the powers function similarly to one another, but thankfully there are enough differences to make them each feel distinct. The voice acting in Second Son also shines. Troy Baker makes Delsin the most natural-sounding video game character to date without the typical stiffness you might see, and Christine Dunford portrays the villain all-too-well.

The games morality system where you choose whether Delsin is a good guy or he goes down the path of evil opens up different play through possibilities. While the main story won’t vary too greatly depending on one’s choices, your special powers will. There’s a sense that everything has to stay vanilla enough to account for those who play it nice (blasting foes in the feet to stun them) versus those who play it maniacally (destroy all, civilians). Combat wise it’s nothing too complex but some of the battles can get intense as you light up the streets with powers blazing.  Another nice touch Sucker Punch implemented is the way the DualShock 4 touchpad is used: press down to drain power sources, swipe left to open cages or down to destroy auto-turrets. And to perform the grafitti side missions you'll use gesture controls to shake up a can of spray paint which is the first thing you’ll do when the game opens up.

If there’s anything holding this game back from being truly great it’s the fact that you're never really doing anything different from zone to zone. The main story and the big DUP base fights are fun but the core of the game is basically the act of taking out DUP checkpoints and chasing down audio logs which loses its luster the further you get. There are a lot of objectives and side missions you can do to keep you busy but they are pretty mundane by comparison to the main story.

The XXL Endgame

If you were waiting for that next-gen game that truly showcases the power of the PS4 and gives a glimpse of what we can expect going forward, then Infamous: Second Son is an excellent showcase.  The open world of Seattle is filled with environments that help you mix up battles in a variety of ways. The powers are innovative and a lot of fun, but it would’ve been nice if Second Son didn’t at times fall into a formulaic rut. Still this is a promising opening act to what it can become.—written by DJ Rhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: L

Infamous Second Son was reviewed on a retail copy provided by Sony for the PS4