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inFAMOUS was a good game, exemplifying several flaws of the industry at the time (Brown Is Real and Stuffed into the Fridge most prominently) but nonetheless an engaging look at what a non-licensed superhero game could look like. inFAMOUS 2 was a massive improvement on basically every front, setting a standard for superhero stories and remaining one of my favorite games of all time while also (seemingly) definitively closing off the story at the end, a rare move in today's world of trilogies and onward. When I heard of this game, I wasn't overly enthused due to the completely new setting and cast, as well as the apparent override of the canon ending of 2, but was willing to give it a shot once I got a PS 4, which ended up being 3 years after its release - until then, it basically flew under my radar aside from my friend bringing up Yahtzee's negative review of it (and since he liked the first two games, that sounded foreboding). Now, having just completed the Bad Karma story 3 years after doing the Good Karma run for reasons that will become apparent, my verdict is...Jesus fucking Christ, I hate it.
inFAMOUS: Second Son frustrated me because it makes so many backwards steps in what seems like its attempt to form its own identity. Gone is the simple-yet-effective power system from the first two games: here, instead of being able to swap between abilities at will, you've gotta track down "sources" of each of your 4 power types if you wanna use a specific one, and they've all got variants on the same 5 moves instead of the considerably wide range of abilities used by Cole. Gone are the quirky NPC-based side missions from the first two games that helped establish the flavor and spirit of the cities you were working to save or conquer: here you instead go around destroying cameras, gathering intel, and so on without ever interacting with citizen NP Cs, which makes the endgame where the people of Seattle either praise or condemn your actions while you're on your way to the final boss fall flat since it doesn't feel like people talking. Gone are the memorable and decently fleshed-out antagonist factions from the first two games with their distinctive visual styles and memorable personality: here, you only fight one type of enemy, the DUP, a military offshoot wearing orange and using concrete power as blandly as possible. And to top it all off, the basic premise of the game does indeed override the excellent ending of 2 to the point of making Cole's story basically pointless - what a slap in the face.
inFAMOUS: Second Son exhausted me because the above changes and more made gameplay a chore rather than engaging, exciting, and compelling. I felt no sense of accomplishment from clearing the DUP out of the city and restoring all the districts as I did in the previous two games - it was quite literally checking things off the list (the legend for each district visible on the map screen). Oh, and I don't remember specifics about Normal difficulty on my Good run, but Expert difficulty as I experienced it on my Bad run is atrocious - in 1 and 2, Expert was the definition of "tough but fair" and offered an interesting challenge by making me rely more on different powers than I had on lower difficulties, but here it turns the game into a borderline Soulsborne experience at certain points (particularly the boss fights). More senseless changes from the previous two entries abound here, including your drop attacks being interruptible by enemy fire and enemies being able to lead their shots when shooting at you (the final boss is insanely guilty of this and will make you scream in rage when you die to projectiles that you could not possibly avoid for the 9th time straight), such that any fun the combat could have is sapped rapidly.
And finally, inFAMOUS: Second Son disappointed me because despite all the grievances I listed above that persist through the entire experience...I don't hate everything about it.
However, the disappointment comes from the fact that all those qualities could have made for a good or at least decent entry...except they're undermined by the bad pacing and length of the story. I forget where I saw it, but another review mentioned that Delsin destroying all the surveillance tech on the Space Needle and running up his own flag should've been a major moment in the story, the equivalent to Cole clearing out the first district of Empire City or defeating Bertrand for the first time - but here it takes place a few hours into the game and ends up just kinda glossed over. Meanwhile, things that ARE big and given gravitas don't feel like they have the proper buildup: for example, Delsin losing his brother is terrible and chilling with the excellent backing track, but because the two of them don't have nearly the same rapport as Cole and Zeke, it doesn't have the same weight as Cole killing Zeke or Zeke losing Cole. On top of that, the two companions whose powers you gain have their stories just rushed through compared to Kuo and Nix from 2, which is to their detriment. There's also the fact that, for all the snark and sarcasm in the dialogue, the game rarely takes time to just...let its characters goof off and be silly like the previous two games did - the only mission to do this, which also happens to be my favorite, is when Reggie pretends to be a Bio-Terrorist and runs around [[largeHam hamming it up]] about how he's going to eat children and kittens. THAT was the only point in the game where it felt like I was really playing an inFAMOUS entry, and that alone should tell you everything.
Personally, while I understand the concept of Fanon Discontinuity I generally don't practice it myself due to being pretty laid-back and accepting as far as media goes...but this is not an inFAMOUS game. It uses the same name and terminology, as well as some of the characters in a pre-order mission, but as far as I'm concerned, the story of inFAMOUS ended with Cole. Only time will tell if a proper successor ever comes along, and I'm not holding my breath.
I'll start by saying that I love Infamous so much that if I was anymore into the first two games they would seriously consider getting a restraining order. Hearing the announcement of Second Son got me giddy as all hell, and after playing it I found myself plummeting back down to earth.
The first issue will become readily apparent- as a first party game released soon after the launch of a new console, it has to capitalize on the new features in some truly obnoxious ways- from the janky motion control spraypainting to using the ridiculous touch pad when a normal button prompt would have done just as well, to having noises blared through your controller at random intervals. And might I add that the unneeded additions to the Dualshock would have been more palatable if the controller had a battery life longer than that of a cancer-stricken mayfly.
Nothing about the game ever really made me think it needed to be on PS4. The graphics, while nice, are not so face-meltingly good that they couldn't have been conceivably been emulated on PS3. The multiple powers idea might have, had been implemented properly.
Rather than being able to switch between powers on the fly, which would have made for a very freeflowing experience with infinite possible ways to handle any given encounter. Instead you can only change powers when you drain from different points. And this will happen a lot, because even with upgrades your 'ammo' will deplete ridiculously quickly. I guess keeping track of four different kinds of ammunition was simply beyond the scope of an almighty eighth generation console. And it might have made encounters less of a pain and mitigated Delsin having the durability of a french fry and the attack power of a wet noodle.
Also the game is short. 'Beat the story in two days' short. There's only one villain to beat, one who is ungodly bland compared to her predecessors, and since the story is basically X-Men there's little to take an interest in. Delsin is more interesting than Cole, but his interactions with others are lacking. Like... he and Fetch fight, are BFF's at the start of the next mission, and then macking on each other by the end of that same mission.
I don't want Infamous to end as a series, but I do hope Sucker Punch put a whole hell of a lot more effort into the next one.
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