What really stands out about Infamous: Second Son is the fluidity of movement. Everything feels fast, almost in opposition to the beautifully detailed city of Seattle, sitting dormant before you, waiting for you to wreak havoc or quell the violence. If you want Seattle to crumble around you as you and the other Conduits rampage through the streets, you have that option. If you’d rather take a non-violent approach to the anti-Conduit soldiers, you can do that too. As with the rest of the Infamous series, Second Son is about choice.
I’ve always been a fan of the Infamous series, the superhero origin story gone wrong that helped define the PlayStation 3. It never shocked and awed (pun totally intended) like some of the other open-world titles that hit the platform over the years, but it nailed the mechanics of combat and exploration as well as any of them. Skating on power lines, gliding over buildings, blowing up traffic — it’s all still there in Infamous: Second Son.
What’s different about Second Son is its fast-paced nature. Cole, the protagonist of the first two games of the franchise, was fairly limited in what he was capable of while on the move. Although running and jumping were key to survival, Cole was nearly rooted to the ground for many of his attacks. Delsin Rowe, the new hero (villain?) of Second Son, on the other hand is refreshingly mobile. In my short time with the game, I found myself readjusting to Delsin’s momentum, leaving me with the impression that combat and traversal are going to feel different this time around.
The inclusion of multiple powers is going to change the way you play as well. In my demo, I got to test out both Neon and Smoke, which you can cycle between by finding instances of each power source in the environment and tapping on the controller’s touchpad. Neon allows Delsin to shoot up the sides of buildings and fire heavy shots of brightly colored energy at enemies. When equipped with Smoke, you’ll have to find vents on the sides of buildings to reach the skyline quickly. Fighting with Smoke also gives Delsin the ability to shoot at a much faster rate — a Smoke machine gun, if you will.
Second Son isn’t just fast; it’s pretty too. The dynamic lighting, detailed structures and residual particle effects were striking on the PlayStation 4. With all the ports and multiplatform releases, we haven’t seen many games designed specifically for the new hardware, but Second Son looks “next-gen,” for lack of a better phrase. The character models are capable of showing subtle emotional reactions, breathing new life into cutscenes. The draw distance is also impressive — from the right vantage point, you can see all of Seattle with a single sweep of the camera. Even the puddles naturally gather rain.
When Infamous: Second Son launches later this month, it could be the showcase title for the PlayStation 4. I haven’t touched an Infamous game in over a year, but I managed to pick up and start playing without any trouble, dashing from rooftop to rooftop, slinging Neon at DUP troops and admiring the digital Seattle that Sucker Punch has created. We’re looking to forward to delving into the game, so come back to BGR before March 21st for our full review.