Hey there guys, I wanted to bring you guys something different for a change to get away from the inevitable deluge of tactics and hobby. Instead, I felt like using this blog to do some video game reviews for a change. This won't change the focus of Imperator Guides whatsoever, nor will it conflict with any Tactica series in the future; these are strictly as an extra aside to break up all the hobby oriented posts I do. I love video games and I've always wanted to share my thoughts on them through a widespread medium. With that said, I would appreciate any feedback you guys have on these reviews, and I hope you enjoy this article!
As an initial disclaimer to these video game reviews, I own the following video game platforms; Personal Computer (PC), Playstation 4 (PS4), Playstation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 (X360). I will note which platform a game is reviewed on in brackets next to the title. My reviews operate under a typical 100 point structure that is divided into five sub-categories, each rated from 1 to 10 and with the final score out of 50 doubled to fit the 100 point review scale.
inFamous Second Son (Playstation 4)
I decided to begin with this particular game because it is the most recent video game purchase I have made, that and it is one of the better titles I have played recently. I pre-ordered a PS4 all the way back in September to guarantee I would receive it before the end of 2013 and lucked out by getting it exactly a week before Christmas. The lack of next-generation games has given me some grief, but I can't really complain as most console generations usually start out this way anyway. Still, aside from playing Battlefield 4 every so often or one of many freebies from my Playstation Plus subscription, I haven't really been using the PS4 as I have played the games I already own to death. Of course, that was before inFamous came along - and not a moment too soon! Developed by Sucker Punch, a Sony-owned first party studio, the production quality of this game was easy to see from the get go. It is clear that the leap to PS4 has seen a huge increase in production values over the previous inFamous games, and Second Son is the clearest example yet of what the next generation consoles are capable of.
Going into the game I knew the graphics would be amazing and the high production values would see the audio and functionality as mostly a non-issue, so the real question became whether this would be a fun game. Second Son has a very simple control scheme that presents the player with a huge array of options for mobility and combat in a pinch, leading to rewarding tactical play and a unique blend of motion and escape with combat. The four different super powers are all a blast to play, with the second and third in particular having me and local viewers remarking on how awesome they are. The fourth is a let down after the brilliance of the third power, but overall the mechanics at play are great and each super power feels unique. The ability switch powers on the fly through the use of local sources of these elements is surprisingly intuitive and natural and allows you to swap to the best power for any given situation when you need it. The combat system is great though the focus on ranged combat and the insanely annoying accuracy of enemies does mean you need to combo mobility and tactics on the fly with increasing efficiency. The game is challenging and can't really be played with brute force which I applaud, but it can be rather annoying, especially against certain enemies and formations later in the game. The diversity of enemies is good but not great, while the many distinct traversal options make the mere act of traveling between missions a fun exercise. The climbing mechanics are a bit wonky though, while Delsin feels awkwardly floaty in the air. There are some weird "blocks" such as being unable to scale a tower without using a specific power even though it defies the laws you have been using throughout the rest of the game, while the boss fights are interesting but ultimately repetitive. This is a fun game for sure with deep combat mechanics, but it does have a few issues that bring it down and can make it a chore.
Since it was first previewed at the Playstation 4 reveal event, inFamous Second Son has marked itself out as a graphical showcase of what the new console was capable of - more so even than Killzone: Shadow Fall. The game is rendered at full 1080p resolution and all cut-scenes use in-game models with no FMVs in sight. This was rather confusing for me at first as I couldn't believe the detail on main character Delsin's character model, let alone the expressiveness of his motherly figure Betty. The start of the game is impressive, certainly, but it truly leaves its mark once Delsin acquires his super powers; the sequence where you fight a Conduit employing Smoke powers is amazing to behold. I could already tell that not only was this the best looking game for Playstation 4, but it was - and currently still is - the most technically and visually impressive console video game ever created. When the action ramps up once Delsin reaches Seattle, employing other powers by stealing them from Conduits, there is a very real chance your eyes may pop from the sheer beauty of everything on screen. There is dynamic destruction, incredible polygon counts, uncannily realistic facial animation, impeccable attention to detail and one of the best colour palettes of any open world game. Just watching Delsin traverse Seattle with his powers is stunning to behold in motion, and the game further earmarks itself as a technical masterpiece with a mostly smooth 30fps performance. This can be unlocked or locked with a new game update, and I recommend the latter so that there aren't any jarring drops from 40-50fps to 25-30fps when the action ramps up. Overall, this is a more impressive and clear presentation of what the Playstation 4 is capable of than any other game - and more so of what next generation consoles could see than Ryse - and to give it anything less than a perfect score would be an insult to the mastery on display here.
Where inFamous is a visual tour de force, it isn't all that impressive in terms of audio design. The music from the first two inFamous games was rather bland by my standards, and I can't say I really recall any of the tracks at all from Second Son either. In a sense this is a good thing because there was nothing bad in the soundtrack, but then there was nothing really that great either. I think it was a good selection of music tracks, but nothing special. The sound design is great though I have to say with all the various powers and their respective abilities having distinct and fitting cues. I won't spoil the last two powers, but I will say that the neon cycles sound fluid, eloquent and combine with the visual style to enforce that heavy techno theme. This is a case where I feel the sound matches the visuals perfectly to further immerse the player, something that inFamous does better than many other games. The voice acting is fantastic overall with Troy Baker putting out yet another unique and great performance as main protagonist Delsin Rowe, while the supporting cast all have their own unique blends of corny over the top super-hero bravado and even chilling emotion to sell their characters. I really believed the mostly tumultuous connection between Delsin and his brother Reggie and this is what gives Second Son its much needed emotional core. One of my favourite animated classics, Prince of Persia, might be a grand story based off of the trials of Moses, but it is his bond with adoptive brother Ramesses that gives the movie the oomph it needs for the grandiose visuals to succeed. This is very much the case with Second Son, and even the main villain does a good job of selling herself as a determined and calculating leader. I think the blandness of the music stops the overall audio design of the game from being truly great, but the other elements do make up for it mostly.
There is a certain stigma to open world games and functionality that I probably don't need to mention here, but it should be said that the inFamous games generally have a good track record when it comes to glitches and bugs. Thankfully Second Son is no exception to that standard with not a single crash occurring in all my play time, and only minor glitches slowing but not hampering the experience. I managed to "fall" into a building twice in a row by leaping into the same spot, but within a few seconds I always popped up back in the world. The controls work flawlessly for the most part, but there are some issues revolving around the climbing mechanics. These have never been a great part of the inFamous games and thankfully are nowhere near as necessary to employ as they used to be, but when you do need them they often miss the target or latch onto surfaces with no input or direction. The game loads very quickly and never has any transitional issues that I noticed like with some other open worlds; the draw distance is significant and I never once noticed any pop-in which was a big surprise. Overall, this is a game with only very minor issues and glitches that don't really detract from what is one heck of a stable game at the moment.
For an open world game, inFamous Second Son isn't all that heavy on stuff to do, certainly nowhere near a game such as Grand Theft Auto 5 or Saints Row 4. However, that isn't necessarily a bad thing if everything in the game is high quality which I do feel inFamous has going for it for the most part. All told, my "Paragon" play-through of inFamous Second Son lasted somewhere between 12 to 15 hours which is about average for your typical full priced game nowadays, and this was on the standard difficulty setting. The game's difficulty scales very well so trying to beat the game on the hardest setting would likely add an extra three to four hours due to the far more tactical nature of combat at such levels. The main story-line is interesting but doesn't diverge too much based on your morality choices, with the main difference coming during the ending sequence. Still, the differences are notable enough in terms of plotting to warrant a repeat play-through if you enjoyed the gameplay on your first run. The side content is entertaining enough but mostly fits into one of two categories; exploration or combat, with very little variation. The former can get boring on repeat runs, but the combat manages to stay fresh with the changes in abilities due to the Karma system. In that sense, you get good value for money from inFamous Second Son; above average, but not near the level of something like an Elder Scrolls game.
The final score for inFamous Second Son is a 43/50, or an 86/100, or an 8.6/10. This is a great game and one that I recommend to all Playstation 4 owners; it is easily the best retail exclusive released for the console thus far, and it is significantly different to most other open world games.
The scoring system explained earlier is divided into 10 rating based on a game's score out of 100 (or 10). This is the key used for each of these 10 ratings.
1 - Horrible, do not purchase.
2 - Pathetic, nothing to really recommend it.
3 - Awful, one or two good things.
4 - Sub-par, a few redeeming qualities.
5 - Mediocre, not terrible but not good.
6 - Average, thoroughly ok and nothing else.
7 - Good, some issues but mostly recommendable.
8 - Great, a high quality purchase.
9 - Fantastic, recommended for all.
10 - Perfect, does everything right.
Thanks for reading everyone and I am eager to hear your thoughts on inFamous Second Son. Failing that, do you like having a few off-topic articles to break up the many Tactica series? Cheers!