Having just finished inFamous: Second Son (finally), I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. I’m not as underwhelmed as I was the first day I played it because things do pick up a little toward the end but for the most part this game lets inFamous fans down in this writer’s opinion.

I don’t mean to take anything from Sucker Punch, they’ve made a fine game here in many respects. It is buttery smooth, the mechanics are much more reliable than previous entries, and you can tell there is great attention to detail in everything. The problem is that so much has been scaled back or made easier instead of developed further we wind up with a product that follows everybody else down the rabbit hole of mainstream appeal, leaving fans of the PS3 games behind.

At first I just thought I didn’t like the new protagonist and that was clouding my mind. He’s a cheesy knucklehead compared to Cole’s dark everyman. It turns out it’s more than that. The story in general has very little to it. If I were writing a plot dealing with people with special powers the first thing I’d do is stay away from retreading the same ground that X-Men has been walking for years. If I did do that though, I’d probably try to think of something more original or that contains more twists and turns than your basic government oppression route. Delsin’s origins felt like an afterthought as well. Cole, the Ray Sphere, Kessler, The Beast . . . they all made for a dark and interesting comic book style plot. Delsin getting upset that Grandma got some concrete on her legs… not so dark and brooding. It’s a good guy versus bad troops (who make for very few enemy types) story and very little happening in between. The improvement in storytelling through dramatic scenes from i1 go i2 (after help from Naughty Dog) was palpable. With Second Son it’s like none of that ever happened. It smells of PG13 Hollywood now.

It’s not the worst story, as I said things pick up a bit toward the end, however the gameplay pulls back too. Seattle may be lovingly recreated but because of the way it plays the city precludes itself from being a star of any kind. InFamous grew out of the Sly Cooper franchise where platforming was the order of the day. Cole was a climber and parkour lover. Climbing and platforming made the city a jungle gym, and when things moved to New Marais that was made more interesting with varying landscapes in and around the city proper like floodtown, the graveyard and the marshes. Seattle is Seattle, it’s just a city that isn’t much changed. What makes it a problem is the new lack of platforming. What made Prototype an inferior copy was the ease with which one traversed the landscape. When you are always zipping by, cruising through, or otherwise avoiding direct interaction with the city, you never the sense that it is anything more than a set of obstacles and scenery. That defeats the purpose of having a sandbox game in the first place. Sure, you can still run and climb around if you want to but the missions aren’t structured around it, aren’t as varied as they once were, and Delsin is more like a hovercraft than a person that grips their surroundings (Cole).

Probably the biggest drawback is the lack of powers in addition to their being streamlined. The biggest draw pre-launch was that Delsin was like Megaman, he absorbs other cool powers and goes to town. So naturally I assumed I’d have access to something like Cole’s powers times 3 or 4. Instead we get these cool base conduit powers which have very few applications. With electricity it was like I was built to destroy. Grenades and rockets and various projectiles, shields and forces and boosts, sniping and homing and hookshot and gigawatt blades! Half the fun was just laying waste by stacking power after power against oncoming hordes of enemies. The extent to which you can do that in Second Son is much reduced. We can’t switch base powers on demand, and each one of those has just a few things attached to it. There’s a projectile, a thrust, and a missile. They vary a bit here and there with sniping attached to neon, a shotgun blast attached to smoke, and a sneak attack attached to video. Without the ability to switch on the fly there’s just very little you can do to attack but mix up the same 3 moves. There are the super special moves which are very cool but are much more difficult to earn.

Atop these observations is the general appearance that there is nothing about this entry which makes it a next generation experience beyond the graphics. By my estimation there was a great deal more to be done with side quests and karma than continuing to beat on protestors and chase secret agents. I had also expected a more realistic crowd experience on the street.

After the first game blew me away I pre-ordered the second game and for the first time in history bought the collector’s edition of a game. With Second Son, I am finished with giving the franchise my undivided attention. No more day 1 purchases, I’ll just wait like I do with other series that have opted for simplicity over content. I know my single purchase won’t make a difference but it is unfortunate to see another great experience given over to decline.

  • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

    I just finished Second Son and I was pretty underwhelmed as well. It’s a good game by all means, but I didn’t like the direction that Sucker Punch took with it. I didn’t like the realism that was involved and was much more attached and interested in Cole’s story over Deslin’s and the more comical fantasy part of what made inFamous 2 so much fun.

    With that said, I liked Deslin’s character, he’s funny and he’s relatable. But the story was just to cliche really and the side character’s never really grew into anything. They all had interesting back stories that were never really explored in the game at all. Maybe in DLC they will be, but that’s besides the point.

    If they do another entry, it needs to go back to the comical style of things, not become more realistic. This didn’t feel like the super hero game that inFamous 1 and 2 felt like and wasn’t nearly as interesting story wise.

    • dieger

      One of the biggest problems i had with it is *spoiler* the Concrete power has no super bomb :/

    • abberjam

      What this guy said ^

    • andy

      I also found the other characters very lacking. I mean after the initial meaning of Fetch you don’t see her until closer to the end. There was a lot more going on in previous Infamous titles, especially alot more antagonists too. The main enemy in Second Son is very underwhelming.
      And seriously what is up with the name Second Son? Wasn’t there a group in the first game called the First Sons? I thought it might go back to this.

      • Julio

        They named the game Second Son for the meaning of the character Delsin himself. Delsin is the Second Son,literally and when your brother has a more succesful life than you as oh I don’t know a cop? You would feel as a dissapoinment. But if you get some powers,like Delsin,you’d try to prove that you can be yourself and help too. That’s why you hear Delsin say: “This is not your problem to fix,it is mine.” Because Delsin finally has a chance. And yes,Sucker Punch tried to shove in your brain a moral message like in the movies.

    • Lance Siders

      Hmmm nah, love new gameplay mechanics, love the realism, infamous 1, and 2 I loved playing them, but they were buggy and very bad for climbing things also very frustrating. Story wise they were cool, but what they did hear is open up a lot for future dlc and games .

  • Me

    I have to disagree I am like you where I played infamous 1 and pre-ordered 2. I loved this game I really enjoyed playing it and to change to a different power is easy especially the last one (won’t say what it is because of spoilers). The building climbing used to be a bit of a bug bear for me so the way to get up a building quick and think is good.

  • Joey Angelo

    I completely disagree with everything stated here. I’m not even gonna go into details or reasons because I don’t even wanna bother. The only thing I agree with somewhat, is that the writing could have been better. Everything else about this game us superb. Not next gen? Dude is blind, that’s for sure.

    • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

      Well if you’re going to disagree with someone’s opinion and then insult the writer, you probably should provide your opinion on why you think that way about the game. Otherwise you just sound like a fanboy, just saying.

      • Joey Angelo

        I didn’t insult anyone. Had I wanted to insult the writer, I would have chosen very different words. Second, I’m not even a huge fan of this franchise, and my statement had nothing to do with being a fanboy or not. So please, so spare me the drama.

        • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

          Like I said, just sounded like a fanboy statement. Sorry if I came off a little harsh there, I don’t bother calling people fanboys, hell the word is stupid in itself ha. But, again, if you’re going to call a writer “blind” and you’re not willing to share your opinion on why the game is good then there’s nothing to back up you calling someone “blind”.

          • Joey Angelo

            Let me be honest here, it was 6 am, I was tired (still am) and I didn’t want to go into it for that reason specifically, not because because I wasn’t willing to share my reasons. It was a matter of sleep, and not wanting to write an essay, which I probably would have if I wasn’t so sleepy. And I already have my reasons, the blind part was in reference to the author saying the game wasn’t next gen other than visuals. That’s all. Not an insult, an observation or criticism, just as he’s criticizing the game. Is the game perfect? Hell no, but it’s still great. As stated before, I hated the first game, the character was down right unlikable, and plot was a little out there. This iteration keeps it comic-book like, while retains realism and a character that’s relatable. Again, these flaws the games have are minor, but nothing deserving of the title of this article.

          • abberjam

            I agree with the writer’s statement of ‘Next-Gen visiuals, not next-gen gameplay’. When compared to infamous 2, the power tree there is far deeper and more varied, the characters are more complex and duplicitous, enemies and their powers evolve and diverse over time (Gargantuan Mutant MONSTERS!) and as he mentions, power-switching on the fly is just more fluid, practical and downright enjoyable. Second Son is a good game, but wrapping the same basic moves in 4 different styles is not especially great for varied gameplay. Sure they look different and traversal is SLIGHTLY changed, but overall the 4 powers seem pretty similar. Also its cliched story and characters, while well acted, are a step back from the previous game. Secomd Son is a solid 7/10 in my book, but Inf2 was a far deeper and richer experience and as close to perfection as the series has come this far.

          • Joey Angelo

            I agree, gameplay elements could be improved. I just don’t agree that this game hurt the franchise. That’s a bit far fetched.

          • Lance Siders

            Because it’s pretty obvious the term blind means everything the writer wrote he feels the opposite so do I . I dont agree at all with writer. I left my opinion a few replies up. Fanboy comment is outdated as a lot of these writers are low key fanboys who hate on things , but then say positive things , but finish with more hate . Like the title of this article clearly is hating.

          • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

            He’s not hating on anything though. He’s a critic, and he analyses the games he plays. That’s what were supposed to do, and he didn’t even hate the game. You’re reading into the title like its an insult to the franchise when its not. It’s an opinion, not a fact and it’s only presented as an opinion.

    • Bob

      So your saying you had fun after you completed the game? It has zero replay value and it is not fun to find hidden cameras. I was hoping the side missions would be a step UP not a step DOWN

      • Joey Angelo

        What I’m saying is the game is not perfect, but still awesome. Then again, many good open world games suffer from this issue. And yes, I had fun getting the platinum trophy.

      • Lance Siders

        I did I played it and beat it a few times. Paper trail was fun , and pretty sure dlc will be fun hoping for paper powers. So Ya Wat was ur point

  • Brandon

    Thirding the disagreement – loved the game, loved the ending, can’t wait for more.

  • Nathan Hughes

    I’ve definitely been burned hard by Day One purchases before and while I’ve yet to play Second Son, I was never really compelled to finish inFamous 2. The quests weren’t compelling at all and all I did was zip around collecting blast shards. I’m not saying 2 was a bad game but it just didn’t draw me in enough to finish it. I had a good time but because I made my own fun exploring.

    However, I’m still on the fence about inFamous 2 ! Anyone want to convince me otherwise? :)

    • Joey Angelo

      It’s an amazing and really pretty game all around, most side quests are repetitive. The game could have had a better writer, but it wasn’t horrible either. It’s the best one to date, though I hated the first one. I The second one was great in my opinion.

    • Joey Angelo

      Still worth the buy. Look at the reviews on Metacritics and that should help you make a choice.

    • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

      It’s certainly worth a playthrough if you like the franchise. If you don’t, well it’s hard to say if you’d get enjoyment out of it Nate.

  • Joe

    Liked the game, disagree with author. I think it’s a huge stretch to say this has ‘hurt the franchise’. It’s set on being the best selling Infamous title yet, so there’s really no excuse for the baseless conjecture that passes for a title on onlysp.

    • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

      Sales aren’t the only important thing to the success of a franchise. The game may have sold well, but is it something people are going to want to buy again, that is the question. As some have noted, this was many people’s first entry into the franchise as the game has a small user base on PS3. So, first impressions count for everything here especially as a mid-launch title on the PS4.

      • Joey Angelo

        I think what he means is the article is in the minority, but then again, to each their own.

        • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

          Oh I agree that the article is in the minority, most of what I’ve seen is praise for the game. The author, David, is a hardcore Playstation fan I’ll tell you that much. He plays a lot of games, but is also much more critical of them than the average person. He has a lot of unpopular opinions lol I’ll just put it that way.

          And I’m also not just agreeing with him because he writes for me either. I loved Infamous 2, played that game to death and while I played Second Son I pretty much had the same thoughts he listed here throughout the game. Do I agree with the title? Eh, somewhat, but I mean, only a small portion of gamers voice their opinion online, so then again, maybe the titles correct. If there’s another entry in the series, that’ll tell you if Second Son did anything good for the franchise.

          • Joey Angelo

            Yeah, certainly. Well I agree with some points, writing (they need to hire someone else), and the climbing on buildings too, but I can’t read this and take it seriously when he uses Infamous 1 as an example of a good game, and comparing that with Second Son lol. I hated that game. Lucky I gave the sequel a chance, because it was amazing. They changed the voice actor, and made him less moody, also loved his and Zeeks bromance. But Cole’s character is kinda one dimensional, versus Delsin. I guess they both have pro’s and cons :)

          • http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra

            The first game in the franchise didn’t play all that well in my opinion, but it was a great game story wise I think. That’s the only reason I finished it to the end.

          • Joey Angelo

            I finished it for that reason alone. But man did it suck…I didn’t feel like a bad-ass hero at all in that game. Second one was it’s redemption, that’s for sure.

    • Joey Angelo

      I agree, all points raised in the article can be taken into account, and I still think saying it hurt the franchise is still a bit over-board.

  • Literary Gamer

    I had pretty much the opposite reaction. I thought Infamous 1 was a bit meh, Infamous 2 was an improvement, but Cole bored me to tears as a character. May as well call him Cole McBland. Second Son is my favorite game in the franchise. I like the new protagonist way better, and I feel the gameplay is more refined and enjoyable.

    My complaints are that Second Son is too short, the final power you attain is worthless, and the story could have been better. Despite that, I think Second Son is the strongest game in the franchise. I’d actually given up on Infamous entirely after the second game, and only bought Second Son because I was desperate for something to play on my PS4. I’m glad I did, because this is the first Infamous game I really liked.

    • Joey Angelo

      Cole McBland? Lmao. Funniest thing ive heard in a while! lol

    • Joey Angelo

      I think most agree the game is great, but a better writer could have made that story better, which was the weakest point.

    • Lance Siders

      Exactly they are heading in better direction

  • Gust

    The story was always a weak point in the franchise. I can’t comment on second son yet but as for the previous two I honestly think they like the series is underrated. Aside from the story the series only other needs is a more complex AI and probably more variety in enemies.

  • Jewy McJew

    A very fair post. It is still my my favorite video game series due to it’s mechanics, but I regrettably share your feelings.

    What I am hoping for next time is “Grand Theft Infamous”. Three characters with very different storylines that join up for big missions.

  • Alkaporty

    I totally agree with the article, though I don’t regret my day-one purchase, not at all. But it seems that Second Son didn’t evolve from inFamous 2 but more from inFamous 1. The second was so epic with huge epic fights, the powers were powerful and the parcour was awesome.

    Cole was amazing, but I really like Delsin too, both are great characters. It’s just that the purpose of Delsin wasn’t as great as Cole’s. And I really hoped that the two stories would be merged together at some point.

    The thing I hated is that the game is amazingly short and side-activities/missions are boring: find a guy in the crowd, find an audio-tape, finding a camera, graffiti (even though it’s really cool to see the art and humor, it brings nothing gameplay wise), destroying cameras, etc. There was no fun for me in doing these and I felt like I was working more than anything else. Side-missions in inFamous 1 and 2 were most axed into combat and epicness.

    But it is a good game, but I think it’s more a follower of the original inFamous than a third installment for the series.

  • zmonkey

    Yeah, have to say I agree, the powers thing didn’t work out at all. It would have been more fun to mix and match than what they did, and you just top off each energy as you’re able. Definitely a step backwards in many ways.

  • Patrick Ryan

    I felt the same way. Got inFamous Collection around Black Friday last year and fell in love. I preordered Second Son and thought it would easily take command my attention. Boy was I wrong.

    And I absolutely agree there’s nothing “next gen” about it. The Last of Us looked almost as good and Grand Theft Auto V did things Second Son fails to even come close to.

    Second Son was the reason I bought a PS4. Now I have to continue waiting for Sony to justify my purchase. At least I’ll have Titanfall and Mario Kart 8 to help with the wait.

  • Nathan O

    I on the other hand didn’t much care for the first two InFamous games. They were fun in short bursts but didn’t have any lasting appeal. Chances are, I am not going to enjoy this game

    • Nathan Hughes

      That’s what I fear. I may just pick it up for a rental to see how it plays first though.

  • Dark_Laser

    I mostly agree except the part about Delsin being able to move faster. That was a much needed improvement. Parkour again would’ve gotten old really fast, and I was sick of climbing buildings ledge by ledge by Infamous 2. It was really annoying that every other conduit but Cole could teleport or flash step in some manner.

  • Lance Siders

    Ya totally going to disagree with most everything . I think the game has opened up so much more in the franchise. powers are going to be awesome in future games , there talking about a world in game with many powers and dif real players . Thinking of delsin being bad as bad ending was very brutal, seems delsin might be bad guy in next one . I just think they opened up a world that has so much potential for future games. Idk it just seems that everyone that has feelings for Xbox are hating on anything Sony. Infamous was incredible nuff said …

  • Lawrence Kenneth

    My biggest issue was how threadbare the story was. It was just not good after the storyline in Infamous 1 and 2. It was obviously an after thought and that was disappointing. I also hated how nothing really changed if you were good or bad besides the ending. I mean seriously Reggie would have never backed an evil Delsin yet his relationship with Delsin is the same whether you are good or evil.