Infamous: Second Son preview: mayhem in Seattle

By Ozzie Mejia, Feb 12, 2014 7:00am PST

Delsin Rowe has quite the legacy to live up to in Infamous: Second Son. His predecessor, Cole MacGrath, left a lasting impression on PS3 owners over the course of multiple games. The new frontman of the Infamous franchise does have a lot going for him, though. Developer Sucker Punch has given him a vast sandbox to explore, a new anti-Conduit threat to deal with, and a brand new slew of powers to master.

Of course, it wouldn't be an Infamous game if there wasn't a morality scale in place. Just like Cole before him, Delsin will have his own choices to make that will either shape him into a Conduit savior or an unrepentant killer. Shacknews was given the opportunity to briefly step into both roles at a special PlayStation event earlier this week.

The demo begins with Second Son's other major character, the Neon-powered Fetch, who was taken down after murdering groups of drug dealers. Delsin immediately has to make a choice: either work with Fetch and try to redeem her to show what a positive force Conduits can be or decide to corrupt her and mold her into more of a psychotic killer. Each decision influences which way the story goes and will determine Delsin's next set of missions, as well as how his powers will shape up.

The Evil path steers Delsin towards groups of anti-Conduit activists. The idea is to put an end to the protests with extreme prejudice. This is where Delsin is allowed to cut loose with his Smoke powers, as he wipes out activists with area of effect ground pounds and kills Department of Unified Protection (DUP) soldiers indiscriminately. Soldiers will sometimes react to the carnage and offer to surrender, which gives Delsin the choice to either subdue him peacefully with Neon cuffs or murder him in cold blood by sizzling his flesh with Smoke powers. The choice made here steers Delsin further towards a good or evil direction.

The Evil path definitely feels more like Delsin is allowed to cause as much mayhem as possible. Citizens will often get caught in the crossfire, which serves to offer even more Evil bonuses. Delsin's melee attacks are also set to kill without restraint when going Evil.

The Good path feels more mission-oriented. Choosing to take Fetch under your wing tasks Delsin with taking down bands of drug dealers that have set up shop around Seattle. The idea is to go from point-to-point and tag each facility, so that Fetch can destroy it from the rooftops. Along the way, Delsin must taken down drug dealers, with melee attacks noticeably utilizing Delsin's Neon power set and naturally subduing enemies after successful combos. There were some instances where I accidentally whacked some citizens that got in the way, but for the most part, I was able to keep my actions on the 'Good' side. As in the other story path, drug dealers that noticed Delsin's rampage were eager to surrender, at which point I hit the button prompt to subdue them peacefully.

The Good path later tasked me with following a truck across Seattle without being spotted, which allowed me to get acquainted with Delsin's Neon sprint that allowed me to dash straight up the sides of buildings. I was also able to use Smoke powers as a makeshift jet pack, similar to how I traveled with Cole back in Infamous 2.

In fact, a lot of this Second Son demo brought back memories of Infamous 2, in a good way. Melee combat and combos are mostly unchanged, traveling across Seattle felt similar, and power sources were plentiful. The major differences are that Sucker Punch took a huge step forward visually with Seattle, as I immediately noticed with the beautiful weather effects. Much of Seattle is captured beautifully, right down to the docks that the drug dealers base themselves in. Unfortunately, the downside is that with plenty of water means plenty of opportunity to have your momentum halted, since Delsin can't swim. He can take out dozens of drug dealers and DUP grunts effortlessly, but Seattle's new hero sadly can't overcome simple bodies of water.

There's a lot to look forward to in Infamous: Second Son, with a narrative that embodies the spirit of the series, Sucker Punch's intuitive combat system, and an amazing re-creation of one of America's nicest cities. It's one of the finer-looking PS4 titles I've seen since the console's launch and one that may very well live up to Cole MacGrath's vaunted legacy.

Infamous: Second Son arrives on PlayStation 4 on March 21.

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