This episode of Clearing the Backlog is coming quite a bit later than planned as I finished off Infamous: Second Son over Easter. The reboot of the superpower infused series for the PlayStation 4 came out in March last year, and I picked up a pre-owned copy from GAME at some point towards the end of last summer. I started it then, but only really got into it when starting this journey and quest to clear up my pile of shame.
I don’t think it helped that the protagonist, Delsin Rowe, is all round a bit of a dick. He has one hell of a cocky attitude on him, and his early game characterisation didn’t do much to enthuse me to him. His journey fighting of against government forces who are enforcing a crackdown against other superpower wielders like him after hurting his grandmother should have been something I bought into. In reality, the way he portrays himself in cut-scenes and dialogue with his brother just goes to show him off as a massive douche. The way Delsin behaves naturally doesn’t marry up with his holier than thou quest, nor the fact that Second Son forces you down a very binary Good or Evil Karma system.
You frequently only have an impact on your Karma by your actions in the open world of Seattle. Do you kill the enemy, or subdue them? Not always something you can decide during the heat of battle when you aren’t necessarily looking for the icons above their heads. Do you want to take down drug dealers? Will you release those citizens of Seattle who have been locked up by the evil, fascist D.U.P (Department of Unified Protection, not to be confused with the Northern Irish political party)? Will you beat up a random gang that inconsequentially appear on the second island?
These are the day-to-day activities which will affect your Karma, which has an impact on what new superpowers you can unlock. The ones focused on killing are for those inclined towards Evil Karma, while more pacifistic powers are saved for the Good amongst us. There are some points which have a major bearing on the nuances of the story, and in turn, your Karma. These big moments where you have to make a decision tend to occur after encountering a potential new ally. While I chose the ‘Good’ option every time, Delsin still maintains his nasty, cocky attitude. It was only really when Fetch makes her appearance felt that I started to engage with the story, and I’m none too surprised to see that an expandalone to Second Son was released which focuses on Fetch’s exploits. She really is a much more interesting character than Delsin, even if he did start to redeem himself in my eyes towards the end of the story.
Despite my issues with Delsin as a character, roaming the streets of Seattle is fun, and becomes immeasurably more interesting once you have upgraded your various powers. While early movement around the city is quite slow, once you have pushed some karma points into different upgrade paths for your powers, you can readily fly around the city without a care in the world (as long as you avoid the water that is). The Seattle that is presented in Infamous is small when compared to other open-world games (Grand Theft Auto I’m looking at you), but in a way that is no bad thing. With the fairly compact nature, and only two islands to the city, you can get from mission to mission quickly or spend your time building up your karma reputation without feeling like you are heading miles off the beaten path. It is just a shame that so many of the districts of the city merge into one. Even if you think back to Grand Theft Auto III, different areas of each of the three islands had their own identity, and this is what I found to be missing from Second Son.
I wouldn’t dare to proclaim Second Son as a must-buy game, but it proved to be an engaging diversion for a week or two of fairly solid game time. After completing the story, there was enough character in the city and enough fun to be had with the powers (which do get really stonking good when maxed out) for me to continue wandering around, knocking off D.U.P outposts along the way. But after a while of that, I came to a natural end. This will be traded in soon enough, but I will be planning to check out the expandalone with Fetch in the future.