Disclaimer: This post contains major spoilers about both the good and evil plots of InFamous: Second Son. If you have not completed both stories and would not like to have the plots spoiled for you, please click away now. If you have completed both and would like to read someone else’s thoughts on the game, you’ve come to the right place.
Note: This will be as much a spoiler discussion as it is a rant about both the good and bad aspects of the game. I will be discussing what I thought about the game’s endings and plot points as well as gameplay and presentation, but I will also be discussing other parts of the game and areas surrounding the game that I liked and didn’t like.
InFamous: Second Son. The graphics. The gameplay. The hype. Did it live up to it? Yes and no. If you’re looking for a game with great gameplay and a fun world to use your Neon powers to traverse, then look no further. But if you’re looking for a deep story with great supporting characters and plot twists that you care about, keep on searching. That’s the thing about InFamous: Second Son, it’s so good in so many places, but there are a lot of missteps made by Sucker Punch that hold it back from being everything we wanted it to be. In the end, it was a great experience, but I was left wanting just a little bit more from the story and characters.
As this is a spoiler discussion, let’s just spoil the game right now. In the good ending, Augustine is exposed and her whole campaign is shut down with crowds cheering for Fetch, Eugene and Delsin as she is taken away. Delsin then goes to take the concrete out of the Akomish people and he is a hero to his people and to the city. In the evil ending, Augustine is killed and Delsin, Fetch and Eugene control the city. Augustine’s conduit prisoners are set free and Delsin will shake each of their hands on the way out the door, allowing him to have as many powers as there are conduits. Delsin then goes to fulfill his promise to Betty, but when he knocks on the door, she opens it and shuns him for disgracing the tribe. She tells him he is no longer Akomish and his response is an Orbital Drop on the entire Akomish settlement. As for plot twists, Augustine did everything she did to “save” all of the conduits instead of kill them, saying that not a single conduit died while locked up. Also, Reggie is killed by Augustine.
The thing is, the only one plot point of the four I mentioned above was Delsin performing an Orbital Drop on the Akomish settlement. That was the only time in my two playthroughs that I was actually surprised and emotionally affected by something that had happened in the story. Reggie’s death didn’t sadden me too much and Augustine saying she was saving the conduits elicited no response from me whatsoever. Finally, the good ending was predictable and closed the story with no further emotional impact. I wish there was more in the game in terms of plot points that we cared about. If there is another inFamous game — which I hope there is because I love the series — I hope there is more in the way of plot twists like in the first game where Kessler is Cole from the future, or in the second game where Kuo turns evil and Nix turns good.
On the topic of another inFamous game, it’s hard to call this game an inFamous game itself. I was extremely disappointed with the lack of fan service in the story. Even in the Cole’s Legacy DLC, of the four missions, only 2 of them directly deal with the events of the first two games, and Zeke only appears by phone for less than two minutes. In the entire game, there is no mention of Cole MacGrath whatsoever, and the fact that they call it an inFamous game with that in mind is a bit mind-boggling. Sure, there’s super powers, but a lot of games have super powers. It’s a bit frustrating to me that a lot of games in the new generation seem to be disguising a new IP with similar gameplay mechanics under an established franchise’s large trench coat.
Cole’s actions should have directly affected the game here, but if I hadn’t seen developer commentary saying that the game was set 7 years after the events of inFamous 2, I would have completely missed the fact that the two games had any kind of relation to each other. Adding a few easter eggs with an electronics shop whose name is “Cole McG’s” and a Sly Cooper playground does not count as fan service. At the very least, there should have been an appearance by a previous character in the main story.
I am also still a bit confused as to why Sucker Punch decided to choose just one of inFamous 2’s endings as canon instead of either finding a way to make the two become one, or just leaving it the way it was and making a whole new game altogether. Making the good ending of inFamous 2 canon rules out so many possibilities that the evil ending could have made, and if they make a separate game based off the evil ending, I am not going to be happy.
I also never really cared about any of the characters that weren’t Delsin or Fetch. Of course, Troy Baker, Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham are part of a star-studded voice cast that doesn’t disappoint, but even Reggie’s death didn’t do anything significant for me in either playthrough. Augustine was the character that had the most support during the story, and by the end, I really wanted her to die, mainly due to Troy Baker’s excellent reactions to Reggie’s death and her own “I’m told that hurts” at the start of the game. But even some of the most important characters, including Betty and Eugene, I didn’t feel any sympathy towards, even though I really wanted to.
I wanted much more background to each character and their relationship with Delsin. All we know about Reggie is that he’s Delsin’s brother. All we know about Betty is that she was an old lady in the Akomish tribe. We know next to nothing about Eugene. We know the most about Fetch and Delsin’s relationship because we know that they had a relationship together. The end of Fetch’s evil mission where you see Delsin and Fetch’s relationship (I’ll just leave it at that) was the only moment in the game where I felt a connection between two characters. There needed to be more connections between characters because they all just felt like anyone could have replaced them and the story would not have been affected.
That’s the other thing. The story, while seeming sometimes fairly deep and complex, is entirely about the quest to get rocks out of an old lady’s legs. That’s why Delsin and Reggie go to Seattle. That’s why they want to fight Augustine — to get her power and save Betty. Even more so, the only reason Augustine found out that Delsin was a conduit was because Delsin used the word “conduit” instead of “bio-terrorist” (which, in my opinion, is a pretty stupid name). There could have been so much more complexity to the story, so much more lore to the world like in the first two games, but Sucker Punch decided to make it as simple and straightforward as possible. It’s also fairly short as it only took me around 8 hours to beat the story with good karma and another 4 or 5 to 100% the world, then only about 5 or 6 to beat it on Expert with evil karma.
At least the writing was better this time around. The hilarious dialogue, mainly between Delsin and Reggie, is the best writing the series has seen. Again, Troy Baker and Travis Willingham bring it to life with their excellent performances. There is also a bit of memorable dialogue between Delsin and Fetch as well as some jokes about gamers thrown at Eugene. Augustine is fairly well-spoken and well-written, too.
I also overall loved the soundtrack when it was apparent. There were points where it seemed that music was necessary but nothing was playing. However, when there was music playing, I loved it. It always seemed so fitting for the situation, especially playing Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” over the end credits as they were from Seattle.
Anyway, back to the story. inFamous is known for its choices and its karma mechanic — making two playthroughs necessary to see everything the game has to offer. As it is (barely) an inFamous game, there are choices throughout the game. The thing is, there are only 5 major choices, and, excluding the last one, none of them make too much of a difference to the story. All they do is trigger a different next mission and make the people of Seattle like you or hate you more. Otherwise, the cutscenes you see, the actions other characters take and the outcomes of missions that aren’t the ending, are very similar to what would have happened if you had chosen the other option. It’s the next generation of gaming, developers should be able to make it so that there are real branching storylines instead of a few virtually meaningless choices throughout the game and a choice at the end.
And even with the different endings, the two endings that you could have gotten were nowhere near as drastically different as the two in inFamous 2 were. Here, you can either expose Augustine, save the city and the Akomish people, or kill Augustine, take control of the city and kill all of the Akomish people. It seems fairly easy to tie the two together to make for one canonical ending for a sequel. In inFamous 2, either Cole and all conduits died, but all the plagued civilians were saved, or Cole and all the conduits were saved, but all the plagued civilians, including Zeke, died. There was no way to tie the two together.
The karma system in the game was also very black and white, maybe even more than the previous games’ were. It blatantly tells you “Do this for good karma” or “Do this for evil karma”. inFamous is known for its black and white choices between good and evil, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I was hoping that there would be some kind of subtlety to the choices you had to make, making it less clear which is good and which is evil. But no, here it’s completely black and white. “Good or evil? We’ll tell you which is which, just choose the one that fits whichever playthrough you’re on right now.”
Even with the black and white system, I always felt like Delsin was portrayed as more of an evil person, as the tagline of the game is “Enjoy your powers” which can allude to doing whatever you want and becoming evil. This made me feel like the good karma didn’t seem to suit him. Throughout the game, I felt like the evil karma was how he was meant to be played as, and I could feel the evil when I killed Hank and Augustine. It felt genuine from him on the evil side, instead of slightly forced on the good side.
It’s fairly clear — and quite saddening — that Second Son is another tech demo for the PlayStation 4. Sucker Punch clearly focused on gameplay and graphics — both of which they succeeded at — but they left behind some other characteristics that made inFamous, inFamous. I almost wish it weren’t the first big triple-A PS4 exclusive because I feel like it led Sucker Punch to try to make it as realistic as possible. The graphics were so life-like and so many other things about the game were very realistic. But it’s inFamous. It’s a game about people with super powers becoming either good or evil and either saving others or becoming extremely powerful. It’s not a game that should be focused on the realism that so many games try to go for nowadays. They could have kept the art style from inFamous 2, which I believe was the perfect art style for the game.
Being a tech demo for the PS4, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. Gameplay is king and Sucker Punch nailed it on the head with Second Son. It’s the standout feature of the game and it is what anyone who has played and who will play the game will come back for. Nearly everything in terms of gameplay is improved from the previous games, and it is so fluid and enjoyable that I still want to keep playing it. All of the 4 powers have their own unique uses and specialties, and each of them is fun to use in most occasions.
Speaking of the powers, it did bug me how you get the Concrete power only in the final boss fight to use there and for endgame activities. It was undoubtedly my least favorite and least used power because I had completed most of the side missions and activities before the final boss fight. It would have been smart to introduce the power at least a few missions earlier so that we could get acquainted with and used to it so that it would not have been completely new in the boss fight. This would have allowed for more usage of the power and better knowledge of what to upgrade heading into the fight. It also would have allowed for a more unique and challenging final boss battle.
The final boss fight against Augustine is something that we’ve seen so many times before: shoot, dodge, shoot, dodge, and repeat. There isn’t much challenge in it whatsoever. In fact, I beat it on my first try on Expert difficulty. It was the only time in the game that I was annoyed with a battle. I wanted to get it over with because it was so clichéd and familiar, especially within the inFamous series. And why did Augustine become a scorpion?
The talk of powers leads me to one of my biggest complaints with how Sucker Punch handled the game before launch: the embargoes. Sucker Punch chose to only show off two powers before launch which were Smoke and Neon. In my opinion, they should have shown off Smoke and Concrete because they were the two most essential to the story, but I digress. The thing is, all powers were subtly revealed within the first mission of the game as the conduits escaped and you see their trails as you approach the city. Why choose to keep all of these details about the story if you’re going to talk about them within the first few minutes of the game? Also, while OnlySP did not receive a review copy of the game, many sites did, and if they were to do a video review of the game, they could only show off footage from designated portions that only were from the first couple of hours of the game. Sony went a bit overboard with the way they handled the embargoes in my opinion.
Now, back to gameplay. One thing that bugged me about the gameplay was the constant sending of more and more enemies with ever-increasing health. This is something that I’ve noticed with many recent games and it needs to be fixed. The only thing this causes is more frustration as there are many games that have figured out how to make a game more difficult without falling into the trap that Second Son did. The Mobile Command Centers and D.U.P. trucks roaming around town that see you automatically while you’re trying to be stealthy were annoying as well because they sent so many enemies at you and you had to kill them or else they would keep attacking you instead of being able to evade them without them knowing of your location.
With that said, that does not take away from the fact that Second Son has the best gameplay in the inFamous series. I loved the strategy that it enabled with the multiple powers and the abilities under each of them. It allowed for times of trial and error, and learning the strengths and weaknesses of each power so that I could use each wisely. Using Neon to shoot a distant enemy, then running at light speed to approach him, draining smoke and beating him to death with my chain never got old. If there is another game in the inFamous series, there is little Sucker Punch can do to improve the gameplay.
The city of Seattle that you roam around in is packed to the brim with detail. I haven’t seen Seattle in person so I don’t know the specifics of the city, but there are, apparently, many famous landmarks in the game that are in the real city, including the Space Needle, Toe Truck, Elephant Car Wash and many more. Even if the city itself was not so lively — which it wasn’t — the detail put into it was remarkable. My only annoyance with the city was having so many covers on the sides of buildings that stopped me from Light Speed running up walls, which is a pretty insignificant complaint, if you ask me.
Second Son was a turning point in the inFamous series. At this point, I am almost hoping that there is not another iteration in the franchise because I feel that there is so much more that Sucker Punch could do that doesn’t have to do with the inFamous world. However, if they were to do another game in the series, I would be excited for the possibilities. It would be interesting to see Cole come back at some point, possibly with the Kessler storyline that everyone was predicting inFamous 3’s plot would revolve around, or even having Cole somehow coming back as a villain. I would also be interested in seeing how Sucker Punch could make a sequel to Second Son without choosing one ending as canon. They would have to find a way to make the two endings the same or even make a game that bases itself off of your choices in Second Son, something I have been hoping inFamous would do for a long time. At least next time, can we add some references to the previous games in there Sucker Punch, please? Thanks.
I know that with most of the things I’ve said here that it sounds like I hate inFamous: Second Son, but I don’t. In fact, it is possibly my favorite PlayStation 4 game to date. However, I feel like there is so much more Sucker Punch could have done with the game to make it everything inFamous fans were hoping for. For every positive about the game, there was something that could have been improved upon. I absolutely adored the gameplay, but I was fairly disappointed in the simple and straightforward story that Sucker Punch was trying to tell. The graphics and voice acting were amazing, but I didn’t care about any of the supporting characters that I was supposed to want to save. All in all, inFamous: Second Son is a great game, but it’s not everything it was hyped up to be.
Now that you’ve read my opinions on the story, I want to know what you thought about it. Tell me what you liked and didn’t like in the comments section below. If you have read this and haven’t played the game, I don’t know why you are still here, but you can read our 5 quick tips here, and you can also read our review of the game here.
Also, in the comments section, let us know if you like the idea of the Story Discussion and Analysis and whether or not you want to see more of them.