Infamous: Second Son – Review (PS4)

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I am a big fan of the Infamous series and Second Son was one of my most wanted games for the new generation of consoles. With Sucker Punch’s Playstation expertise, could this be an early killer app for the PS4? I wish the answer was a resounding ‘yes’ but despite some fantastic high points, and coming 6 months after the release of the PS4, Second Son still suffers from early console-cycle jitters.

Let’s start with a positive. Graphically I’m not sure I’ve seen a better game… ever. The lighting, the rain, the neon. I could go on and on and before I do stop, I must mention the cutscenes – Infamous: Second Son has some of the most well crafted scenes I’ve ever seen – a testament to the amount of facial motion capture they did. They are also among the best acted, with some great, believable performances.

Gameplay-wise the enemy AI is robust and will not hesitate to flank you and hide behind cover when necessary. Encounters felt challenging but enjoyable for the most part, although there were a few frustrating boss fights thrown into the mix. Luckily, Second Son does a decent job of giving you different options so that you can change tactics on the fly. You begin the game with smoke powers and as the story progresses you’ll unlock neon and a few others (which I won’t name so as not to spoil it). The powers each have a distinct look which is really cool but unfortunately all of them are essentially just the same set of attacks in a different art style. It’s a real shame because it feels a bit like a wasted opportunity – if they had given the powers a genuinely different feel it could’ve been a game changer. As it is they are still fun but you’ll likely find yourself finding a favourite and just sticking with that.

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Second Son tells the story of Delsin Rowe, a graffiti artist turned superhero. Delsin is, unknowingly, a conduit for superpowers – having the unique ability to absorb and use other conduits powers. Conduits have been labelled ‘Bio-Terrorists’ by the government and the D.U.P (Department of Unified Protection) are sent in to capture any conduits they can find. When the D.U.P endangers the local people, Delsin and his brother Reggie (a sheriff) find themselves thrown into a battle with this dark, government force. Along the way you’ll meet other conduits that Delsin can nurture or prey on as you look to sort out the situation he’s found himself in.

The story is fun and the characters are definitely memorable which is why it’s all the more disappointing that great side characters like Fetch and Eugene are barely used. I would have loved to see more missions with accompanying characters so you had a chance to get to know them better. This for me was probably Infamous: Second Son’s biggest crime, especially with how well crafted the characters felt. It felt like a mis-step to introduce these cool characters and then just brush them aside until the final act.

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Infamous: Second Son is a graphical powerhouse that I had a lot of fun playing. It tells a good story in a concise timeframe (around 10 hours) and the animation in cutscenes is something to behold. In spite of all that I do feel that the side characters could have been developed more and while the gameplay is decent, it is more of the same from the last two games. That isn’t a big issue for me but people should be aware it is not with fresh gameplay that Second Son makes it mark… graphically however, it stomps most other titles into the ground.

Rating: 8/10

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MXGP – Review (PS3)

*This piece originally appeared on TheSixthAxis and can be viewed HERE*

MXGP is the officially licensed game of Motocross, featuring all the bikes and riders of the sport. The names were unfamiliar to me as I don’t follow Motorcross but by the time I’d created a custom rider and hit the track I was trying too hard to stay on my bike to worry!

As you would expect from a licensed product, the game has a full suite of modes that enable you to jump straight into a random race, hold a Grand Prix (race weekend), take part in the Motorcross Championship (as your favourite rider) or even start a career with a created rider. There are also online options for a single race, ‘Seasons’ mode or Time Attack, so you are well catered for across the board.

The racing itself is fun with a different take on control – here the left stick controls the bike, with the right stick distributing the rider’s weight. It’s an interesting system but you won’t need to use it much when on the ‘Base’ setting that the game starts you on. Even on the highest level of ‘Pro’ I found it wasn’t really needed for cornering but I definitely had to balance my weight to the front or back going uphill or downhill. If you don’t strike the right balance you will find yourself face down in the mud.

MXGP creates some great crash moments, where your rider will tumble realistically off his vehicle and hit the ground. However I do feel this could be a little bit more refined – on some occasions a very slight knock would see my rider thrown in a very over-the-top pratfall that just didn’t make sense in the context of the crash. Another issue I stumbled across on more occasions than I would’ve liked, was my rider coming off his bike without good reason. This was especially problematic at the edge of the track and caused me a few frustrating moments.

Graphically, the game looks good and you get a nice sense of speed from gameplay. The track deforms as you ride around it, which is a great touch because it can slightly change the racing line in later laps, and even the effect of the wind rustling under the rider’s shirt gives an impression that you are tearing around a racetrack. Unfortunately, on the PS3 version I played, there was some noticeable pop in – I suspect this may be down to the game having to keep track of the deformed race area. It wasn’t a game breaking issue but it did take you out of the moment at times.

As I mentioned above, aside from one off races or championships, the main crux of single player action is the Career mode. This allows you to create your own custom rider and work your way up from MX2 racing to the big time of MX1. This mode will be a big time sink for players because of the way MX rules work – as well as Practice and Qualifying, riders also race the track twice within the weekend (with points awarded for both races).

So, even if you decide to skip the preliminary rounds you’ll still need to get through two races to complete each event. My one complaint about the races was that at times they felt a little too long (especially having to do each course twice) but that’s a personal preference.

The Career mode is good fun though, with you starting out as a wildcard before receiving offers for different teams as the season progresses. You will get team objectives and an additional bonus if you finish ahead of a pre-chosen ‘rival’. The team manager and your agent will often drop you an e-mail to give you updates or set an objective. In addition to this there is also an option to check social media and see what the fans and other riders are saying about you. It’s a nice touch and, along with the post race info on how many fans you’ve gained/lost, lends some depth to the MXGP world.

As well as solo play there is also the option to take on fellow gamers online with a single race or ‘Season’ mode. In a single race you will be battling it out with up to 11 other racers and you will race with whatever number of people are in the lobby. The game also allows players to mix settings in single race, so riders are racing with whatever set up they feel comfortable with. This seems like a smart move as it won’t split the userbase straight out of the gate (excuse the pun).

For Season mode, if you don’t have 12 people in the lobby it will fill the race with AI riders so there are always 12 of you. Points are then distributed accordingly after races. The online was stable, I had one lost connection in 10 races, and there was no slowdown or other visual issues.

Rating: 7/10

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