Truly a higher stan­dard in jaw­drop­ping PS4


IN­FA­MOUS: SEC­OND Son is a ma­jor step away from the comic-book ori­gins of its pre­de­ces­sors. Don't take that the wrong way - the lat­est of­fer­ing is still very much an open­world su­per­hero ac­tion ti­tle first, and a ter­rific one at that. Its flashy pow­ers look and feel great in bat­tle, and that's re­ally what games like this are all about.

To Sec­ond Son's credit, I didn't ex­pect to en­joy the weight­ier, more real­is­tic tone of the char­ac­ters as much as I do. It's a change that ini­tially jarred with me as a fan of the fran­chise, but one that ul­ti­mately pays off. De­spite fail­ing to be­liev­ably marry the player's moral choices with the pro­tag­o­nist's own sense of right and wrong, Sec­ond Son does a laud­able job of cre­at­ing a more emo­tion­ally in­vested ex­pe­ri­ence.

It didn't take long for Sec­ond Son's re­mark­able light­ing to leave me star­ing slack-jawed at my screen. The power of the PlayS­ta­tion 4 is ev­i­dent in ev­ery street-side pud­dle ref­elec­tion and in ev­ery swirling cloud of smoke hang­ing from my flam­ing hands. The city of Seat­tle is beau­ti­fully and di­versely re­al­ized, but it never looked bet­ter than when I was blow­ing ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing around me to bits.

Serene city streets turn into fiery dis­as­ter zones with glee­ful reg­u­lar­ity, and both the be­fore and af­ter are great to look at, de­spite oc­ca­sional stut­ters when the ef­fects get out of hand. While high pro­duc­tion val­ues are of­ten a smoke­screen for weak char­ac­ters, Sec­ond Son suc­ceeds here, too. Troy Baker's mo­tion-cap­tured per­for­mance as our new Con­duit, Delsin, re­mains be­liev­able whether he's be­ing a snarky, reck­less jerk, or a plucky, bo­hemian do-gooder. He's not uni­ver­sally lik­able, but the chem­istry he has with his con­ser­va­tive, law-de­fend­ing brother makes for some ab­sorb­ing fa­mil­ial ban­ter.

Story aside, In­fa­mous is about feel­ing for­mi­da­ble, and Sec­ond Son doesn't dis­ap­point. Delsin's four var­ied power sets turned ev­ery D.U.P. check­point into an­other chance to flex my su­per-pow­ered mus­cles. From the ex­plo­sive de­struc­tion of smoke to the swift pre­ci­sion of neon, each set feels strong enough to hang an en­tire game on, and strate­gi­cally switch­ing be­tween them dur­ing heated bat­tles by drain­ing power sources from around the city made me feel like an un­stop­pable force of na­ture.

Be­tween scraps, I found the con­tin­u­ous sense of mo­bil­ity ex­hil­a­rat­ing... once you get all the right power-ups. Un­til then, you'll be lean­ing on the old-fash­ioned park­our from the pre­vi­ous games, but it doesn't feel nearly as sticky or re­li­able as it has in the past. This led to a few frus­trat­ing sit­u­a­tions where I couldn't grab ledges that were clearly in reach. It be­comes less sig­nif­i­cant as you ex­pand your suite of tra­ver­sal pow­ers, put when ev­ery­thing else feels and plays so well, it's hard not to no­tice.

Open-world su­per­hero games are ten a penny these days, but Sec­ond Son is cer­tainly the pick of the lit­tler. Seat­tle is your play­ground for this one, and what a job has been done in bring­ing out ev­ery glo­ri­ous de­tail us­ing the PS4's for­mi­da­ble pro­cess­ing power.

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