inFamous: Second Son – review

The first big release for PS4 since the console’s launch, Second Son can’t help but feel an empty, unfulfilling experience – even with neon superpowers.

Developer: Sucker Punch, Publisher: Sony

Price: £54.99, Players: 1

Age rating: 16+, Release date: March 21

Version tested: PS4, Ability rating: Intermediate

A game where you run straight up the side of a building and launch yourself hundreds of metres in the air, before you rain down on soldiers of an oppressive regime with the power of a thousand flaming fists should not be boring.

Yet inFamous: Second Son often finds itself merely ambling along, not captivating enough to be truly exciting, yet not bad enough that you actively want to turn it off.

Actually, it straddles the middle ground between Superman 64 and Saints Row IV quite nicely, now we think of it.

inFamous: Second Son is a game where you play the young Native American Delsin Rowe, whose first name means ‘he is so’, in case you were wondering.

inFamous Second Son review screenshot 2

This plucky, arrogant little beanie-wearer will likely irritate you a fair amount if you’re British, because he has that perkiness about him that only really seems to please an American audience. Our kingdom for some good old fashioned cynicism…

Anyway, starting out as a normal chap, Delsin soon enough ends up with superpowers – first smoke and fire, then neon, then others that we won’t spoil. And there’s your hook: you’re a normal bloke who now has superpowers.

What this translates to is a game where you perform the standard missions of ‘go here, shoot this’ but also have the ability to run up walls, float long distances, boost through smoke outlets and fire missiles from your hands.

Yet even with all that, it left us cold. It’s not a slog by any means, but Second Son just isn’t as enjoyable as the premise makes it sound.

Maybe it’s familiarity creeping in, with this being the third game in the inFamous series – the last two were good, though flawed, fun. Second Son just feels empty by comparison, and it’s difficult to put why into words.

Maybe it’s that the lead character is such an irritant. Maybe it’s the super powers, which are samey even though there are so many of them. Maybe it’s the binary ‘good or evil’ choices that pop up throughout, which are utterly ridiculous in context. Maybe it’s the setting, Seattle - in real life a dull, grey city.

inFamous Second Son review screenshot 3

Whatever it is, there’s always a nagging feeling at the back of your mind that Second Son isn’t as super as its superpowers would make you think.

It’s good enough to have fun with, and at no point did we actively want to stop playing the game – it’s not that kind of bad. But very rarely were we compelled to return to the adventure.

Layer on top of that some intensely frustrating combat scenarios – unfortunately carried over from the previous two games – where you’re constantly knocked back and the enemy has unerring, instant accuracy with its weapons, and you’re left with something that feels almost amateurish at times.

Often beautiful, fun in parts, somewhat liberating and a decent purchase (when inevitably reduced to £15) it might be, but inFamous: Second Son isn’t the second coming for the PS4 we might have hoped for.

In summary

We found ourselves playing Second Son at the same time as Dark Souls II, and it ended up working as a brilliant foil for the intensity and difficulty of From’s epic.

But when not used as a comfort blanket, the third inFamous only ever hits a few highs – and generally meanders around in the territory of ‘yeah, it’s OK we guess’. Certainly not ‘super’. verdict: 3/5