All flash and little substance?

I am now convinced that there will not be a compelling reason to buy an eighth generation console for at least another year. I knew they would need to build up a head of steam just to matter, but I didn’t realize it would take this long. Since I adamantly refuse to buy a Playstation 4, no, I have not actually played Infamous Second Son. If you think this admission vacates the integrity of either myself or this article, go ahead and click away now.

If you’re still with me, I’d like to explain something: The “Should You Buy” series is intended to give some games a more tentative recommendation than “You Should Be Playing.” Usually, I save it for games that I believe will be best for a limited or niche audience. In this case, the niche audience is “PS4 owners.”

So when I pose the thesis implied in the title, which is “Should anyone buy the new InFamous,” what I mean is “Does buying this game in anyway justify a Playstation 4 which has already been purchased?” Is this the game which will finally give you the full experience of a fun game on a piece of superior hardware?

If the question were “Should you buy a Playstation 4 just to play Second Son?” the answer would be a swift, decisive no in about fourteen languages. Buying a console to play one game is unwise, to be generous. Wait another year, or even a few months, and the console should have an additional set of next-gen games, with some exclusives like the Uncharted sequel.

As for the game itself, I can only make a few cursory judgments, and judging it really wasn’t what I wanted to do. But here goes: The game looks quite fun. Honestly, when I eventually get around to the next-gen games, it’s top of my list. If you already own a PS4, I say get the game if you haven’t already.

I do have a question, though: They’ve quite obviously scanned their three main actors in as the faces of their characters. I can tell the cutscenes have been mocapped, and the three actors also provide the voices. So, Sucker Punch, why didn’t you just make a movie? I would have been quite happy to see Laura Bailey, a personal favorite of mine, on screen in all her glory.

If there is one thing you can say about all new-gen games, it’s that they certainly look very good. The graphical improvement from the last generation is certainly not infinitesimal, but I do wonder how long that will hold appeal as younger gamers grow perpetually more used to snazzy graphics.

As with all things of the new generation, I’m content to wait it out and watch.

I'm the daughter of a veteran who spent my childhood in Killeen. As of 2013, I have a degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a critic of books, films, television, and video games. Find me on Twitter: @rachel_knows

(1) comment


Rachel, Rachel, Rachel... would you accept a film review written by someone who has not seen the movie? A book review by one who has not read the work? How about a restaurant review by someone who has never eaten at the location in question and, in fact, admits up front that they have never ever tried that kind of food?

You can't just watch some Youtube videos and base a review on that. It's unprofessional.

I do own a PS4, I've played Infamous: Second Son to completion, along with the previous 2 games and the downloadable "Festival of Blood". Here's the skinny:

Second Son is a solid 8/10 game, more or less the same as the others. There are parts of it that could have bumped it up a notch to being 8.5 or 9.0, but there are other bits that drag it down.

On the plus side - outstanding facial animation in the cut scenes. You can really tell the actors are putting their emotions into their roles. The final boss battle is absolutely stunning, definitely a showcase for what can be done on a next generation machine. The Paper Trail missions give an expandability to the game that involves collecting clues in game and "uploading" them to a website for analysis. Correctly following the clues on your computer then unlocks even more in game content. The combination of online puzzles and in game content feels unique and new and is still delivering weekly content even though I finished the game (Episode 4 just became available this weekend, with two more episodes to go.)

Detracting from the game is lack of variety. Each section of Seattle really only feels slightly different from the others. The enemies are always the same pseudo militia forces over and over again. In the previous game, each section of the city was controlled by groups with different powers. That doesn't happen in Second Son. Instead, the variety in powers is conveyed on the player, moving from Smoke, to Neon, to Video and finally Concrete powers. But because you face the same enemies over and over it feels more monotonous. Plus, you only get to use Concrete in the final boss fight, unless you come back after the game to accomplish more.

Also distracting are the odd parts where the stunning graphics fail. I've never seen glass in a game that looks as real as the glass in Second Son, so it's odd when you notice it doesn't actually reflect anything. Room to improve for the next game I guess. But it does leave you feeling oddly hollow. In the first two games it made sense that Cole couldn't cross water because he was electrically powered. It makes no sense for someone who is smoke powered to be similarly limited, but there it is. Touch water are you are prompted to automatically return to shore.

So as much as I'd like to bump it up, I just can't. 8/10. If there were more variety in the villains, yes, absolutely, a higher grade.

So, if you don't own a PS4, is this the game to make you jump? No. It's worth the $60 entrance fee, it's not worth $460. Few games are. My prediction for the first game worthy of spending $400 or $500 to play is Destiny, the new game from the makers of Halo, due out in September for both the current and past gen platforms.

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