inFamous Second Son PS4 review – Superhero sandbox leaves you sleepless in Seattle

inFAMOUS Second Son PS4 review

We need to talk about inFamous Second Son‘s hero Delsin. No, really. A stern conversation is in order. Sure, we can overlook the constant graffiti, cocky quips and those times he inexplicably clambers along skyscraper window sills. But now he’s run away from his Akomish tribe and on top of that, smoke keeps billowing from his extremities. The only way you’re going to discipline him is by buying this consistently gorgeous, fluid PS4 open-worlder.

inFamous Second Son PS4 review

First, though, let’s get the obligatory exposition paragraph out of the way. InFamous: Second Son takes places seven years after the last game, but it gives nary a mention to Cole MacGrath. You play Delsin Rowe, a tagger who discovers he can absorb the powers of other Conduits (eg super folk). Soon after, your community is attacked by a nasty woman with cement hands – just go with it – who wants to imprison the super-inclined. Cue a revenge/redemption tale set in Seattle, where you spend a good deal of time bringing down the Nazi-aping DUP and their many, many zealously-guarded outposts.

inFamous Second Son review video. Subscribe for more PS4 videos.

But what of Rowe himself? Ever since his first reveal, BFG-sized questions have loomed above the bragging delinquent. Is he really as annoying as those early trailers suggest? Can voice man of the moment Troy Baker lend the same tender gravitas to this smoky whippersnapper as he did Joel and Booker DeWitt? Do you want to punch his hipster face to pulpy bits ten minutes in? To which the answers are ‘most of the time’, ‘on occasion’ and ‘hell yes’. Sadly, the new chain-wearing hero of the inFamous franchise makes a really bad first impression.

The facial capture is astonishing. Full of ticks, quirks and subtle expression, it takes virtual performance to another level, even if the uneven dialogue doesn’t match this new visual high.

In brief, Second Son’s plot is nonsense – the script is so-so and the acting is both pathos-filled and brazenly obnoxious. Tonally, it makes for uncomfortable viewing, which is a shame considering how confidently cutscenes are put together. This might sound like hyperbole, but the facial capture in Second Son is astonishing. It’s above anything you’ve seen from benchmark-setters Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream – the performances of Delsin and his brother Reggie in particular are eerily lifelike. Full of ticks, quirks and subtle expression, they take virtual performances to another level, even if the uneven dialogue doesn’t provide the audio to match this new visual high.

Let’s be honest: you ain’t here for unerringly realistic faces. You swung by these parts for powers, and in that respect, Second Son has to be considered an unqualified success. Old Electric Mitts may have come into his own within 50-feet of a telegraph pole, but Cole can’t compete with Delsin in full-flight. Far more varied than the movesets of its previous PS3 adventures, Sucker Punch gives Delsin brilliantly varied abilities that are a rousing victory of smart design and well-balanced controls.

inFAMOUS Second Son ps4 review

inFamous Second Son has some class leading facial capture adding huge amount of life to performances

This is a series that has always thrived when it throws you into barely organised chaos and says, “blast away until your fingers go shonky.” On that front, proceedings have only escalated. If your enjoyment of a game is primarily measured by how much pleasure you glean from your eyes being bombarded with awesome sights and the freedom to fearlessly dive into ridiculous situations, there’s a lot to enjoy in Second Son.

When he’s not modelling the latest in double denim chic or blowing up hastily erected quarantine zones, Del is mucking about with truly joyous powers. Forget Prototype or Saints Row IV; Second Son blows every other hero away in the super department. Whether sprinting up the side of the Space Needle at Road Runner-shaming speeds or barrelling his way along Seattle sidewalks in a suit of concrete that makes him look like a hipster Thing, the wisecracking Conduit doesn’t lack for party tricks.

Contrary to everything you’ve likely seen from the game so far, Rowe isn’t limited to blowing smoke like he’s puffing away on Havana’s finest stogie in a gentleman’s club. The default power is eventually joined by Neon, Video and, once you complete the game, Concrete. Each one is suitably different, replete with its own quirks that make jumping between abilities on the fly not only tactically beneficial, but tons of fun, too.