Republished on Wednesday 30th August 2017: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of September's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Sucker Punch’s primary superpower is its ability to craft compelling connections through the controller. inFAMOUS: Second Son – the third entry in the Seattle-based studio’s comic book-inspired series – is no exception, fusing the DualShock 4 to your fingertips like some kind of elaborate costume piece. The potent property’s inaugural PlayStation 4 outing represents a real step forward in almost every department, but it’s the exclusive’s ever increasing sense of strength that makes it such a thrill to play.
The previous entries in the first-party outfit’s powered-up series never failed to make you feel like a superhero, of course, but miserable main character Cole MacGrath’s borderline suicidal stance on superpowers really started to get in the way. Fortunately, newcomer Delsin Rowe does away with his predecessor’s despondent dialogue, bringing a cheeky grin to every outrageous activity that he partakes in. This makes the character a much better fit for the kind of instant gratification that the franchise thrives on, and you’ll quickly forget that you ever cared for his amped up associate.
While the protagonist’s spiky personality complements his equally razor-sharp tongue, there’s a vulnerability that exists beneath his anarchic exterior. This is exposed courtesy of his relationship with older brother Reggie Rowe, a kind natured cop whose upstanding community work puts him at odds with his sibling’s penchant for petty crime. The sequel never touches The Last of Us’ tear-jerking tier of storytelling, but the small core cast all offer outstanding performances, with star Troy Baker imbuing the lead with an unexpected likeability.
Perhaps the most impressive asset of the plot presentation is the manner in which it effortlessly sells you on the franchise’s fiction. There’s some silly stuff in this open world escapade – much of which we must gloss over in order to avoid spoilers – but the actors bring a natural believability to the whole affair. This can be attributed to the cutting edge motion capture technology that the outfit has employed, but also the writing, which maintains a surprisingly high standard in spite of the pulpy premise.
Of course, the game would still be fun if it was unable to sell you on its outlandish narrative, but you’ll still want to see the 12 hour campaign through to its conclusion in order to see the resolution for all of the characters involved. It’s just a shame that the ethical bullet point that has always defined the franchise has failed to progress with the rest of the property, as the branching decisions that pepper the plot remain as binary as ever before. The problem sits with the structure, which forces you down a good or evil path, and means that there’s rarely room for shades of grey along the way.
Still, while the game will never shake your moral compass to its core, you will have to adapt your playstyle depending on which path you choose. In addition to unlocking different missions depending on your status within the world, you’ll also encounter unique sandbox objectives that reflect your personal paradigm. Busting drug dealers and rescuing wrongfully imprisoned people is a popular pastime when you’re a good guy, but you may opt to sizzle street performers and pound protestors if you’re feeling a little more sinister.
The moment-to-moment combat changes, too. If you’re playing the part of an upstanding citizen, you’ll want to take down enemies with the least amount of force possible, aiming for their legs to dispatch them with due care. This isn’t the case if you’re acting evil, meaning that you can push your powers to the absolute extreme, and revel in the carnage. The various different missions that you’ll encounter throughout the course of the adventure play up these disparate approaches, and do a decent job of allowing you to experiment with your powers.
But it’s not just these branching paths that facilitate the title’s underlying variety, as the actual moves that you have access to will adapt your approach as well. There are a total of four combative capabilities in the game, but seeing as the developer has only detailed two, we’ll gloss over the remaining ones in order to maintain the surprise. Still, the two that it has touched upon – smoke and neon – illustrate our point perfectly, as the former acts a little like an inferno infused six shot, leaving your adversaries wheezing like chain smokers, while the latter is more of a precise tool.
Toggling between all four of the skills is as simple as absorbing the appropriate material from the world, and is something that you’ll need to do more and more frequently as you progress through the game. This is because each power has unique properties, meaning that your DayGlo branded plasma beams may be perfect for bringing down lowly grunts, but won’t be especially effective against the hostile helicopters that you’ll find yourself fighting towards the end. You can level up all of your abilities by collecting Blast Shards, but each option will still have distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
One thing that does remain consistent between all four flavours is an unrivalled sense of freedom. Much like Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted, this property has always paraded its parkour-inspired platforming in the past, but here it takes a backseat. Instead, you’ll find yourself simply sprinting up skyscrapers like the Flash, or flying up drainpipes in a cloud of smoggy debris. It all feels incredibly refined, and it makes getting around the city an absolute breeze. There isn’t an enormous amount of side-quest variety, but you’ll find yourself tackling everything that’s on offer regardless, as it’s simply so fun to get around.
In addition to the abovementioned glittery collectibles, sub-missions comprise uncovering secret agents in civilian crowds, tracking down hidden audio files, and decorating the open world environment with Banksy-esque street artwork. This latter minigame is probably the most gimmicky addition to the game, as it sees you holding your DualShock 4 vertically and using its motion sensors to simulate the action of a spray can. It wears out its welcome once you’ve done it a few times, but does provide some much needed respite from the combat heavy action that commands the rest of the game.
The fact that you can flit between these activities so quickly means that you’ll never really find yourself fighting the kind of tedium that plagues other open world games. The setting – which is based upon real-world Seattle – is large in scale, but it never attempts to rival the likes of Los Santos or even Liberty City. As a result, everything feels nicely condensed, and because you can move from one side of the map to the other in less than a minute, your next objective is always close at hand. It means that you can see everything in a reasonable timeframe, but the disparate moral paths provide plenty of replay value.
Moreover, it looks absolutely extraordinary. The biggest compliment that you can pay the game is that many of its districts look like they belong in a more linear release, but everything that you see on the hazy horizon can be reached. The crystal clear resolution certainly helps to impress, but it’s the lighting that’s the real star of the show. While there’s no day and night cycle, you’ll get to explore the city at various different time periods, and the title is at its beautiful best when you’re sprinting across the skyline in a foggy musk, with morning dew giving the pavement below a glitzy gleam.
The weather effects help too, of course, adding a reflective density to the busy city streets. Puddles mirror big television screens and illuminated shop fronts, which warp as you unsettle the water with your movement. Given the pace of the release, it can be hard to appreciate just how good the game looks at times, but you will find yourself stopping to stare on occasion, as there are a couple of locales in particular that set the bar incredibly high for the likes of Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica to beat.
It’s not without the odd moment of spectacle either. While the studio’s kept many of the game’s more elaborate moments under wraps, you will come up against a handful of bosses throughout the course of the campaign. These face-offs crescendo with an enormous clash against a colossal rock monster, which will leave you pondering when the developer started taking lessons from the God of War team. You’ll still be doing little more than learning the patterns of your opponents during these occasions, but they add a little extravagance to the adventure, and will have you reaching for your DualShock 4’s vaunted share button on more than a couple of occasions.
Unsurprisingly, it’s during these instances that the developer tends to crank up the title’s surprisingly stellar soundtrack, too. Inspired by the seedy sounds of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s final resting place, the release consistently finds the exact right moment to get your blood pumping with a distorted bassline or delayed guitar riff. The overall audio’s letdown a little by the addition of repetitive civilian speech samples, but the inclusion of ambient effects such as howling winds, subby car stereos, and rippling fires help to accentuate the title’s impressive level of immersion.
There’s an unparalleled sense of empowerment in inFAMOUS: Second Son that makes it a release to be reckoned with. Bursting with more attitude than a high school hardcore band, this out-of-control excursion effortlessly nails the sensation of possessing superpowers. It may put its plot forward a little too forcefully at first, but persevere and you’ll be richly rewarded with an appetising roster of outlandish abilities. While it does little to push the open world format forward, this is still a series that’s very much in bloom.
GamesRadar - 3.5/5
IGN - 8.7/10
Eurogamer - 7/10
CVG - 7/10
Shame.... was hoping this was going to be the game that justifes the PS4
I was hoping this game would get higher reviews.
Going to go pick this one up NOW! Local store is breaking the street date.
I didn't read your review yet to not spoil anything! Feels awesome that after the first trailer during the PS4s reveal 13 month ago, the day where we can finally play the game is here.
@xtigerz @Joco84 I can't speak for any other publications, but this is the best PS4 game thus far in my opinion. Also, remember that 8/10 is 'very good' on our metric — and this is very good.
@Reverend_Skeeve Hopefully no spoilers in the text. You should be safe!
@Joco84 Those are bad? Those are just 4 slices of the pie.
@get2sammb: I guess to some people unless a game gets a perfect score its bad to some people. Well it's their loss they miss out on a great game.
@Big-Boss not bad, not great either. I'm sure people will enjoy playing it, but I think reading the various reviews my fears have been confirmed and I will give it a miss for now. Everyone entitled to their opinions
@Joco84 Many things justify the PS4 but this game is enough for me to pick up the PS4 tomorrow. Looks amazing and fun
@Joco84 I'd say that they are great score - but again, that's using our scale. What were your concerns? Maybe I can elaborate on some of your worries?
But on the other hand Dualshockers gave it 9.5 and Destructoid gave it 95. Or, and this is madness I know, we could just play the game and make up our own minds. Mines waiting at home, personally I can't wait.
@Tasuki lol if people waited for 10/10 reviews to get a game they d have a very poor library
@get2sammyb just a bit concerned with the variety of missions and the non-main questing. Seems a bit light / lacking variety.
I'm not saying I expected a 10/10 to make a purchase, but the comments seem to imply that it's a bit "by the numbers" and at the moment that isn't enough for me to purchase day one. I will end up getting it eventually, but not for full price. With the lack of game time I have available (job, wife, child, etc) I need to be sure that a game is going to be something I will definitely enjoy. I'm not certain this game is that, which is a shame to me, but obviously others will still be happy to purchase.
Review scores mean nothing to me. Besides 8/10 means it's still great.
@Joco84 I think that's perfectly fair. The one thing I will say is that the moment-to-moment traversal and combat is so fun that I found myself completing all of the open world objectives anyway, even though there is a lack of variety. Hopefully that helps!
@get2sammyb Nice review. When you say a 12 hour campaign does that include side quests? Thanks for the awesome reviews keep em coming
@Pink_Floyd Yeah, that was to do everything as a Good guy. However, it's worth noting that if you like the game, you're probably going to want to play through it again as an Evil character because the gameplay changes quite a lot, there are different powers, unique missions, and more. So there's plenty of replay value.
12 hours sounds about right for an inFamous game.
So that's 24 hours altogether if you count the evil playthrough.
Actually I'm not sure if that's longer than the older games or on par.
Thanks for the fast response. I played the other two and went through both 2 times and found them to be vary enjoyable. I can't wait until tomorrow.
Metacritic is currently 80 from 36 reviews. That's pretty decent if you ask me!
Think some people were hoping for a GOTY here and maybe had unrealistic expectations. Hence the disappointment...
I'm not an Infamous fan and i think an 8 for any game is fantastic, but I think the expectations for next-gen games is ridiculously high among gamers and critics. It's like a next-gen game has to have the greatest graphics known to man and the most innovative gameplay yet seen in the industry. We're unfortunately in that awkward phase at the start of a new gen.
Whatever happened to just enjoying the game...infact, the games atop of my most wanted list are mostly games not trying to be innovative etc such as Wolfenstein, Evil Within, Yakuza, Trails In The Sky II, Wrack and a host of indie or niche foreign games. As long as it stimulates me, i am done.
@Dodoo 100% agree
@Joco84 Those are good scores.
This game looks awesome.
Pretty much what I expected, not unhappy at all. I thought maybe the campaign would be a little longer but I guess its always worth at least 2 play throughs. 8 out of 10 sounds about right. My copy is on a truck somewhere, the last couple of weeks have dragged. Safe to say my first play through I'll be murdering everyone.
@3rdEyeMind I was in the process of writing a similar diatribe then realised you'd already done it. Well said, chief.
@SimonAdebisi when playing a good/evil game do you tend to choose evil by default? This isn't a dig or a setup, I'm genuinely curious.
@AhabSpampurse depends really, I have no specific preference, I'd prefer a game with more ambiguity and with multiple outcomes and endings. They said that they wanted to make a realistic game but good and evil as the only two choices isn't really realistic. If I had a choice I'd mix it up and see what happens, it doesn't sound like that will really work in this game...
80% = B- (would your parents be happy or mad if you got that on a test? lol)
Sounds pretty fun. Binary isn't always bad; I always end up completely on one side or the other of FO's morality scale. I also trust @get2sammyb about it being "the best ps4 game" so far. Intriguing.
Not a bad average rating, but doesn't look good enough for me to buy a system for... especially since PS4's now cost $450 in Canada. 1080p at 30 fps is not something to be impressed about with the current generation. With my CPU pushing almost everything at 60 fps/1080p+, I would expect this gen to do no less. People crapped on the Wii U for only putting out 720p/60 fps and 1080p/30 fps. Let's hope Destiny wows me, when it comes out.
What are other potential must-own games coming out for PS4? I want a justification for buying the system... there just is none at the time being.
@baconcow Destiny, Batman: Arkham Knight, The Order, presumably Uncharted? I think it's fine if you're not ready yet — a lot of people didn't get a PS3 until 2009.
8 is still a darn good score, i gave up trusting reviews a long time ago and now just use them as a quick spoiler free snippet of whether or not the game suits my taste. Hell, my favorite gaming experience on this new gen for wither console was knack, simple, fun, a little difficult, and ok to play in front of the daughter, and that game got absolutely slaughtered by critics. Ac4 was beautiful but flawed, thief was well..not thief, bf4 was/is an unfulfilled promise, titanfall is good but not a gamechanger, dead rising was..dissapointing. That is all, cant wait to play infamous later tonight/ tomorrow
@get2sammyb I actually bought my PS3 in October of 2013. I have many games on it that are unplayed. I bought it, partially, to replace my decade-old blu-ray player and then ended up buying many games for it. I am not as excited about Arkham Knight after Origins. The Order looks descent. I would pick up Uncharted. Uncharted 2 has been the best PS3 game I have played, this far. Destiny looks great, and I am not even a big FPS fan. I am hoping for a PS4 bundle with a must-have game, possibly Destiny. My first Xbox 360 game (in 2008) was Halo 3, and that game looks to bring back the coop fun I remember from years ago.
@get2sammyb I really dont understand our gaming generation.An 8 out of 10 is bad now?
I was kind of feeling down until you woke me up with that comment.
Come on Amazon deliver my game early.
@KAPADO An 8/10 is okay when comparing the game to all of the thousands of other yearly released games. This is a big market. For people who rely on ratings to help choose their games, why buy one with an 81% Metacritic average when you can buy 10 others with an 89-93% average. It isn't the number that is mathematically bad. It is the amount of higher rating games that makes the perception of this bad.
Also, in my experience, most games with 75% Metacritic average or lower tend to be kinda poor. A game gets an 8/10 and has a glowing review then another gets a 7/10 and has a review that talks about all of its poor points. If gaming had a higher number of ratings, like IMDb, it may be a more consistent (and likely, lower) result.
In the end of a day, 8+ seems to be what's good these days, for the most part. Anything rated 7 or lower tends to be okay or poor. Niche games (like Etrian Odyssey) can end up being 7's and work well for the specific buyer as they are rated lower for being a niche product (something less people has interest in or like). Games series like Call of Duty GTA V tend to have suspiciously-bloated scores which doesn't help either. It makes buyers skeptical.
I honestly wouldn't mind a world without numerical ratings. The problem is, there are not many reviewers with consistency and quality like PushSquare (look at a review by xxx online reviewer, read their glowing review and then their 7 score). Then read a review by the same reviewer about a almost good, but poor game also receive a 7. Then read their GTA V review that states several issues but receives a 10. Lot's of inconsistencies. The content of the review is the most important part, but people don't have the time or interest to read everything.
Game looks great gonna buy it.
Im curious about the review scores on this site and NintendoLife. I know you are sister sites however i dont really understand what that means behind the scenes. What I am curious about is that fairly often when a new big time Nintendo game is released, NintendoLife give it a 9 or 10. However I can't remember the last time a big time ps3/4/vita game got a 9 or 10. Is that because you guys here have a harsher scoring system or is it because the PS games genuinely arent as good as the Nintendo ones?
Remote play via Vita?
@baconcow Looks like the - in the reviews is the 'binary plot and lack of grey between bad and evil' . Not a big deal if you ask me.
About coming games dont forget The Division, The Witcher, Lords of the fallen. and many more
I never owned a PS3 and never played the first two games, will I be lost playing this one or have a blast nonetheless?
No they are basically standalone. Not playing inFamous 1 or 2 won't really keep you in the dark to a impactful degree.
@eLarkos We use the same scale, but we're also totally autonomous of each other. It's really difficult to compare this to something like Super Mario 3D World because it's a completely different game. Also, different systems have different expectations. For example, would you expect NL to lower the score on a Wii U exclusive because it doesn't look as good as Killzone?
TL;DR - We use the same scale, but may have slightly different interpretations of it. We're also dealing with different platforms for different audiences with different expectations.
@get2sammyb Makes sense. Nintendo gamers are easier to please 😜
@Spidernoir thanks! So many games I missed last gen. Hopefully for me, Playstation Now will fix that!
The review sounded a little more like a 9 than an 8 to me. Either way, can't wait to play this! Unfortunately, a movie that my wife has been waiting for (as long as I've had infamous on my radar) comes out tomorrow so we're seeing that. And Saturday is no good so I won't get to play anything until Sunday =/
Why do people "expect" a game to get a higher score? Who cares if a game gets a 3, 7 or 10, if you like the look of it get it and have your own view.
Agreed Rasta btw I just read the day one patch will include a quest with 19 missions added over six weeks.
It will change the difficulty and add more pedestrians too
@NorthLightSuplx Yeah, that's fully supported.
@get2sammyb Best part of the PS4, imo. I've had the Vita since near launch and I am looking forward to my continuing tradition of being able to lay down on my bed and play a game. I have full intentions of having my WiFi router 5 feet away, if necessary.
I've just come off Infamous now only about an hour into it so far, the game looks fantastic it really does. The somke effects that come's off the characters look amazing, everything looks amazing i love it so far.
@baconcow The problem is that different outlets have different policies, and different writers have different opinions. We try to keep things consistent here, but even we have disagreements among ourselves sometimes. The best thing that people can do is read the text that accompanies a review and make up their mind from that.
@KillTheG1mp No, you won't be lost at all. This is a brand new story with brand new characters. There are some Easter eggs for franchise fans, but I was quite surprised by how little the previous games are mentioned.
@banacheck Glad you're enjoying it. It only gets better, too!
I played infamous 1 & 2 twice to experience the good and bad choices to be made...I like the clear cut options act as a paragon or a rogue, as I did in the mass effect games. It gives me incentive for replay and see changes a chosen course of action leads to. My only point of concern is the size of the map...it seems small and I like space to roam. However if that space is well used it isn't as much an issue to me. I'm expecting this as a birthday gift and look forward having a reason to have the PS4 turned on for more than Netflix.
I would get this one whenever I get a PS4, but I won't rush it.
That will happen when Naughty Dog shows Uncharted 4...
Still sounds fantastic to me, and all the additional content they're promising sounds very appealing.
Most of the reviews I read about Second Son, until I actually get mine - living in the US means I'm still hours behind - I have seen similar review scores to this one. But I agree with you entirely when it comes to this franchise on PS4 coming into bloom, so hopefully this score raises with the sequel
That's actually a false generalization. I'm a Nintendo gamer (as well as a Sony gamer, obviously), and if anything I'm HARDER to please. Most Nintendo gamers are used to the extremely high quality, addictive gameplay and fine polish of 1st party titles. As a result, most Nintendo gamers are VERY picky about what games they will buy. Often times, games that are very popular on other consoles will generally be ignored by Nintendo gamers if they feel the quality of the gameplay isn't up to scratch.
Nintendo gamers are no different than Sony gamers. It's just a matter of which games they prefer to play, and what they value most in a game (eg gameplay vs story, graphics vs artstyle, etc.)
My copy just shipped out today, so I'm expecting it to be here by Monday at the latest. Sounds good- 12 hours is a tad shy, but hey, if it's a good 12 hours, I'm totally ok with that!
@get2sammyb The reviews I have read (including this one), lament the amount of content in the side missions. It was just announced that thee day one patch for Second Son will provide 3 additional hours of side mission content, with additional content to be added for free on a regular basis. I think this is likely to help combat the used market as people cannot trade the game in once they are done if they want to see what happens with the additional content, but I think that is what has hurt the game's metascore.
@3rdEyeMind yep, yep, yep.
And no offense to Sammy, but I'm also getting tired of games being criticized for lack of innovation.
Some games are just iterations that have more polish. That's fine. Kinda getting fed up of game reviews focusing on what a game doesn't have, rather than what it does.
That said, I agree, 8 is a good score.
@get2sammyb: I just had to say I love the Nirvana reference in the tagline with this game being based in Seattle and all. Very clever.
Picking it up in a few hours, looking forward to finally playing it.
what's with everyone about the score ? i'm sure if pushSquare did decimal point scores this would be closer to a nine than an eight , but they don't , so there you go . review reads it's better than an eight , not quite good enough for a nine .
IDK ,maybe pushSquare should look at how it rates score scales.
seems opinions are strong on this . how about a feature and / or vote about the scoring system on pushSquares ?
(personally I prefered the early system on pushSquare of a four squares scale , from poor to excellent . you start getting into scores "out of 100" and things get blurry)
nice review btw , all apologies for this long post .
Im buying it regardless of the review, push square could have given it a 2 and i was still buying it.
I'm getting my copy in an hour and I'll have to wait until tonight to play it. But I'm eager to try this.
@get2sammyb: is expert difficulty really THAT hard? I always play my games on the hardest possible difficulty from the start because I like a challenge but if it's stupidly hard I might reconsider for this one.
@eliotgballade I agree most scores we see nowadays dont make sense anyway. Id rather something like 1 to 5 stars rating though I may miss having a laugh when I see people arguing about IGN 0.2 difference between Second Son and Titafall.
Finally got my PS4 and the game is great... Next Gen is here
@lvnlavitaloca That patch actually released days ago, so most reviewers will have played the game with it installed. This review was written after the update came out, too.
@JaxonH oh I was just joking man. Im a keen gamer of both companies as well.
Start playing it last night. Looked up and it was 2am. Always a good sign!
it still feels and plays like an infamous game, but it has evolved tremendously. Story is engaging so far. It is so hard to not just go around blowing everything up. Seattle is brilliant with so much detail to explore..
@ShogunRok Thanks for the clarification. Although, Sucker Punche's plan for future updates will hopefully continue to flesh out virtual-Seattle. I look forward to giving this a whirl tonight after work.
Bought the game a little while ago cant wait to play even though im not the series biggest fan. I love nirvana and Seattle is going to be fun to explore.
The game controls well but other than that I didn't get to play too much before heading to work. Got to the first good or evil decision. Story seems like it'll be interesting enough and the graphics are very nice so all that's good. Will be interesting to see what it's like once I get to the open world stuff.
@lvnlavitaloca Yeah, if they were willing to cough up a patch with all that in it, then we might see more free content coming in the future. It'd certainly be a nice way to keep the game feeling fresh.
@ShogunRok I just re-read the post on the U.S. psblog, they intend to add additional content every week for the first six weeks infamous is on the market. http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/03/21/infamous-second-son-on-ps4-today-bonus-content-now-available/
I picked up the game after work Friday and I can't stop. So much fun! Great game.
Don't worry about the reviews. This game is awsome. Just play it and you will see. Once you get through the opening story stuff and your free in the city you can really cause some mayhem.
Enjoying roaming the streets of Seattle and channeling The X-Men!
Completely agree with tenderbeefcake, played this solid over the weekend, completed both play-throughs last night. it is amazing.
This game is my #1 main reason for wanting a PS4...though I do hope it's cheaper by the time I eventually own a PS4 in a few years.
(those 2-3 years will give me time to max out my PS3 game collection anyways)
By far the prettiest of the series, but also - in my personal opinion - the weakest.
Underrated game, imo, at least at the time. These days I'm more inclined to agree with the 7s and 8s, back in 2014 I'd have had it at a 9.
It's a very good game. First one I've played in PS4, tight controls and very fun.
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