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    dkirschner's Infamous Second Son (PS4)

    [August 7, 2023 07:00:07 AM]
    This one gets a resounding "meh" and surely suffers from me playing it nearly 10 years after release. Ideas that may have been fresh then are not now. In particular, I was struck by how simple and repetitive the game is. Infamous isn't a sequel to the PS3 games, but more or less copy/pastes them as far as I remember. You play as a guy named Delsin, who is Native American. So little was done with his Native American heritage that I think they wrote this in for token diversity. There is some window dressing in the beginning about his living in a Native community, but culturally and for any purposes of the game, it doesn't matter one iota. They could have copy/pasted any other marginalized community: a poor urban neighborhood or a homeless camp or a traveling circus. Delsin could have been anything. Also, literally every other character outside his community is White, which makes it more obvious that his Native background is token, unless you want to read into this some juxtaposition of colonizer and colonized, but nothing is there. It's not deep. Nothing about the game is deep. Two other examples:

    The morality system -- Think of the most basic morality system you've ever encountered, and Infamous is in that ballpark. You can be good or bad, no gray areas. Completely binary. This citizen is injured! Do you heal them or kill them? This enemy is surrendering! Do you accept their surrender and tie them up or reject and kill them! Each of your main story sidekicks gets in some trouble! Do you jail/kill/banish them or do you stick up for them and teach them to be good like you? The final boss! Do you expose her crimes or just kill her? And of course you can be an insane Delsin with no moral compass and save/kill people on a whim, and the game is perfectly playable like this, and characters have no particular reaction to what you do either way. Actually, that's not entirely true. I assume that regular citizens begin to act more afraid of you if you're evil, because in my (good) playthrough, by the end, they were taking pictures of me and cheering when I whooshed by. But whether that has any impact on the narrative is doubtful. Some abilities and missions are either "good" or "bad" and if you've gone down one path, you're barred from said abilities/missions. I cannot imagine that the differences matter that much though.

    The abilities -- In Infamous, you have superpowers. It's very X-Men. The whole story is very X-Men. The story goes that a truck full of "Conduits" (humans with superpowers), or "bio-terrorists" if you're being prejudicial, crashes and a bunch of conduits get loose. The big bad military-government organization who keeps order is hunting down these conduits. But one of them gave you some superpowers, and you find out that a unique thing about you is that you can absorb other conduits' powers. So, over the game, you hunt a few conduits and absorb their powers, unlocking new skill trees. The problem--the simplification--is that each skill tree is basically the same. Doesn't matter if your R2 shooting attack fires smoke, neon, or video bullets. Doesn't matter if your "circle" ability is to dash as a cloud of smoke, a neon streak, or a digital angel (although, unquestionably the neon dash is the most useful). Doesn't matter if your L1 ability is to fire a big smoke missile, a big neon missile, or a big video missile. It was disappointing to find that every time I caught a conduit and unlocked a new set of abilities, it was basically the old set of abilities with a coat of paint.

    There were various other annoying things, from the shallow character development to the dark contrast of an otherwise colorful game to some janky climbing (Assassin's Creed this is not). To the first, the lady conduit that you rescue develops romantic feelings for Delsin immediately. Why? I don't know. Is it ever mentioned later in the game, after they almost kiss? Nope. Why not? I don't know. Delsin is pretty annoying. Sasha walked in the room while I was playing one night and said, "your character sounds like a jokester." I said, "Yeah, he is way too cool." He wears a leather jacket (so cool), spray paints stuff (fuck authority!), talks back to his cop brother (conduits are people too!), but he loves his family (a wholesome rebel). Delsin is like the product of a focus group with 14-year-old boys, but then the executives thought that the 14-year-old boys weren't edgy enough and decided to do a content analysis of 90s advertisements and make their character even more rad. No, I got it. He's like a ninja turtle. A Native American ninja turtle.

    Despite the mediocrity, it was still fun enough to plow through the game. I ignored most of the side activities (tagging billboards, finding hidden security cameras, tailing spies, etc.) because it was easy to tell that they didn't impact anything aside from you "taking over" districts of Seattle from the bad guys, which just unlocks fast travel options (and, given your super speed, those are unnecessary). You won't need to backtrack hardly at all in the main story either, which was nice. Movement (save climbing) was probably the smoothest thing about Infamous. I did enjoy turning into a neon bolt and blasting through city streets and streaking up buildings before dive bombing into a throng of enemies. Combat was fine (if repetitive) and could get overwhelming. Auto-healing was pretty forgiving (go stand behind cover for a few seconds to heal up). Hunting for shards to upgrade abilities was fun and added some challenge that was useful for progression. Boss fights were cool, and trying to get to the final area ended up being a surprisingly fun bit of puzzle platforming. Oh, and using the PS4 touch pad to complete some actions (e.g., freeing prisoners, passing checkpoints, shaking a spray paint can) was neat. Console games rarely seem to take advantage of touch pads like this. You don't have to use them in some revolutionary way; just a simple "swipe left to open the door" or "move your finger on the touch pad for a security scan" or "shake the controller up and down to shake the spray paint can" adds some novelty to the experience, instead of "press X."

    So, all in all, nothing terribly special, though some points for creativity. Movement-focused action games since 2014 have far surpassed this (if it was even cutting edge then), but luckily for it, movement-focused action games done well are always enjoyable to play.

    *Edit* I turned this on to try to find how long it took to beat. There's no timer in the game or the save file, but I do know it was short (probably in the range of 7-10 hours). I completed 68% of it according to the save file. But, I had to point out, re: my criticism about token diversity above, that I was greeted with a loading screen tip that said something like, "Delsin only uses environmentally friendly paints in his graffiti." Oh, REALLY!? Wow, what a guy! There is literally not a word mentioned in this game about the environment. This game does not address environmental issues in any way whatsoever. Another example of the lightest touch on whatever social issue they thought resonated with the target audience. This is so cringe to me.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Aug 7th, 2023 at 12:59:13.

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    dkirschner's Infamous Second Son (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 30 July, 2023

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 6 August, 2023

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Feels dated, mindless, so far. --------- It's okay, still fun to play.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See dkirschner's page

    See info on Infamous Second Son

    More GameLogs
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    1 : Infamous Second Son (PS4) by jp (rating: 5)


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