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Infamous: Second Son (NOM) Review

My attempt to create a new type of review system. A review system that attempts to remove reviewer bias and create a near objective review. Some math required.

*Disclaimers:

1. I work at a game company, I will refrain from reviewing games from that company due to bias.
2. This review is my opinion ONLY. It does not represent those of anyone else or any game company.
3. This is just my attempt at an objective review or one that is as close to objective as possible*

 

THE SEARCH FOR AN OBJECTIVE REVIEW:

Is it possible to have a truly objective review? The short answer is No, but the slightly longer answer is maybe there is a way to have a more objective review than those we're seeing right now.

 My personal opinion is that games are art, and as such, games are open to interpretation by the individual. Each person has gaming preferences and these preferences may not, and most likely will not, match perfectly with the reviewer. I will attempt to create a system that removes the reviewers preference and in turn matches it more to the reader. Some simple math will be involved. 

THE PROCESS

As I write this review, I am working out a point system made specifically for Infamous: Second Son. I’ve decided, after a full playthrough, that this single player focused game should be weighted 3 points – Gameplay, 2 points – Art/Visuals, 2 points – Audio/SFX, 2 points Story/ Presentation, 1 point – replayability. After the review, I will re-examine my personal bias and tastes and account for them so you, the reader, can come up with your own score (customized to your tastes). I think I will call it the NOM review (Nearly Objective Mathematical). 

This should hopefully make more sense as you read the review.

Without further ado….

 

INFAMOUS: SECOND SON (NOM) REVIEW - by Yuichi Haga

Sucker Punch’s 3rd outing in the Infamous series is different in many ways to the previous 2 Infamous games. Different characters, a game world based on a real location, new console system, lighter tone in story. There were many things to be worried about and excited for. I was hopeful for a great game and Sucker Punch didn’t let me down.

Infamous: Second Son takes place in Seattle and follows a new protagonist by the name of Delsin. He has personality to spare and comes to realize he is a conduit/ super human. His actions get his family and friends into trouble and it’s up to him to go to Seattle with his brother, Reggie, to fix things. The story, while fun and interesting, is not as riveting and dramatic as some other games I’ve played of late. The dichotomy of good and evil remains the same as the previous 2 games. While this doesn't bother me, I wasn't particularly impressed either. I feel that there is more moral middleground that Sucker Punch can play with here. The power setup in the game heavily encourages the player to pick good or evil and then stick to it the entire game. I did not waver once in my playthrough and thought that was very limiting. I hope to see Sucker Punch expands on this front if they ever decide to do a sequel.

The gameplay is the star of the show here. Smooth, fast, satisfying are just a few words that describe the frenetic action pieces in the game. Running around the city with Delsin’s various powers filled me with delight. Gone are the days of having to wall hop up a building by button mashing up buildings. Reaching the roofs of skyscrapers takes a second or two when you know what you’re doing. While the developers at Sucker Punch managed to create a nice playground and tool set to play with, they did not alleviate any of the issues that tend to come with these types of open world games. Some of these issues stick out like sore thumbs.

Seattle is broken up into districts. Each district is very similar to one another with DUP Stations, Spy missions, hidden cameras, Spray painting, etc. While the districts may look slightly different, they feel functionally the same. Clear DUP section, find a spy, a hidden camera, a tape, walls to spray paint , confront DUP, rinse, repeat. I was hoping that new side missions would appear after clearing certain parts of the story, thus peppering the entire map for new things to see. Alas, they did not, and I was able to clean sweep the map top to bottom with very little reason to go back and explore.

I really did want to re-explore the world, because it is so beautiful. I did eventually end up going back to various sections of the map because time does not flow in the game realistically. In order to see the time change, you must complete the story missions. This, admittedly, was a bit disappointing to me and felt inconsistent with the realistic environment. I also felt that there was a tinge of uncanny valley when watching the characters up close. I can only imagine what Sucker Punch will be able to pull off visually with a few more years working on the PS4.

 Audio is also well done with satisfying sound effects and top notch voice acting. I admit that I am not an audiophile, so the music took a backseat when I was playing. I enjoyed it well enough and it didn’t get in the way, which is a good thing for me. The only issue I have with the audio is that the NPC cat-calls can get repetitive. Again, this is a common issue with NPC audio in open world games, but it just stuck out more here.

The post-story gameplay is a bit lacking. It is still fun to run around putting the DUP in their place, but the mission variety is nonexistent. Replayability and longevity come in the form of playing through the game seeing the story using the opposite karmic alignment as the first time. As I write this (APR. 3 2014), Sucker Punch has announced that an update with the ability to change time and new missions such as the papertrail story. If these come into fruition as they claim, replayability/longevity will certainly get a boost.

OVERALL SCORE:

My personal score for this game is 8.5 (GREAT). If Sucker Punch comes through with the promised updates of being able to change time of day, then my score goes up to 8.75.

In order to align my review with your personal tastes please answer the following questions.
Pick only one answer per question then add or subtract the result from my score to get your new score

  1. Do you enjoy Open World games?

         I love open worlds  = +0,
         Meh = -1,
         I dislike Open world Sandbox games = -2

  1. Do you enjoy Repetitive Sidequests or grinding in games?

          I don't mind repetition = +.25
          Meh = +0
          I don’t like to do the same thing over and over = -.25

  1. Do you like the good/evil theme or prefer morally grey with multiple results.

        I like good vs evil = +.25
        I don’t care either way = +0
        I want a wide range of possible outcomes = -.25
     
  2. Do you care if time changes dynamically in an open world game?

          I do mind and want the weather to change randomly over time. = -.25
          I don’t care either way = +0
          
The developer should choose the time of day for me = +.25

  1. Does repetitive dialogue from NPC’s bother you?

           Yes = -.25
           Not really = +0
           
I fully expect my open world games to have repetitive dialogue = +.25

  1. Do you care that this game is very loosely tied to previous Infamous games?

        I want to know how previous games fit into this world= -.25
        Eh.. as long as the gameplay is fun I don’t care = +0
        Story? What story? = +.25
  1. Are you into Superhero stories?

         Yes, bring on the superpowers = +0
         No, I’d rather have a gun = -.5

  1. Do you care to have multiplayer or have lots of replayability?

         No, this is a single player game where I can run around doing random things afterwards = +.25
         No, but I want a variety of random missions after beating the game = +0
         
Yes, I would like to play more than 2 times at least = -.25
         
There isn’t any multiplayer?! What a wasted opportunity! = -.5

 

What is your new customized score?

 

 

BREAKDOWN:
Here are my notes while I was thinking of the review so you can see my logic in the questions above.

3 points – Gameplay
-Open World action adventure game +2/2
-Repetitive side quests for each district +.25/.5
-Dichotomy for good and evil options only +.25/.5

2 points – Art/Visuals
-Beautiful Seattle scape +1/1
-Time does not change dynamically +.25/.5
-Powers are flashy and are a joy to see +.5/.5

2 points – Audio/SFX
-Great Soundeffects +.5/.5
-Music is great +.5/.5
-Dialogue voice acting is great +.5/.5
-NPC’s are repetitive (as per every open world game) +.25/5

2 points – Story/Presentation
-Story is pretty good +1.25/1.5
-About Superheroes +.5/.5

1 point – replayability +.75/1
-You can play either good or evil
-There is added Papertrail sidequest coming.
-Not as replayable as having a multiplayer game but you can scour the city doing random things.

 

Let me know what you think of my review. If you played Infamous: Second Son, did the scores change appropriately for you? Did your customized review score give you a better idea of the game? Please send me any feedback/criticisms. I am very interested to hear if you like/dislike this type of review.

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