Dry city

March 31, 2014 by Tim

I’ve been enjoying inFAMOUS: Second Son. It is, of course, exactly as transparent with their “morality” choices as I’d suspected, but it’s a fun game regardless. And it’s a gorgeous game. It really feels like we’re starting to see what the PS4 will be capable with in this title. Beautiful particle effects, zipping down the rain-drenched streets watching the lights reflect in puddles, a huge city with great draw distances… Second Son is definitely easy on the eyes.

Having multiple powers is an interesting new addition to the franchise… neon has become my favorite, with smoke a close second. I like smoke’s combat abilities just a little better, but neon is obviously quite a bit more travel-friendly. The video power just didn’t connect with me… I avoid it at all costs.

If I had to make one complaint, it would be that you aren’t allowed to have more than one powerset active/queued at a time. I would love to be able to easily swap between neon and smoke on the fly, without needing to drain from a source to switch.

In fact, there have been a number of fights that have taken place in veritable dead zones, with limited or no resources readily available. In these instances, I’ve been forced to leave the area in which I was fighting the D.U.P. entirely, sometimes by as much as a city block or two, in order to find a smoke or neon source to recharge from. It pulled me out of the action, even briefly, which was more annoying than the resource management was interesting.

It becomes a little less of an issue later on when, with some upgrades (and I do recommend upgrading this first), you can not only increase your charge capacity, but reduce the amount of power your attacks use. This lets you stay in a fight a lot longer without having to run around looking for a neon sign to drain.

Other than that small gripe, it’s an enjoyable adventure. I was skeptical about the little touch pad on the PS4 controller… I really didn’t see the point… but Second Son is the first game to integrate it in a way that sells me on its existence. It’s a solid additional control method, used to perform simple actions. Actions that could have been done with a button, but work well with a swipe.

I was also incredibly impressed with the speaker in the controller. When Delsin receives a phone call, it rings through the controller. That was all well and good, but I was truly blown away when, at one point, Delsin picks up a discarded D.U.P. helmet and I could hear the helmet’s two-way radio chatter through the controller in my hands. Very cool.

The motion capture is awesome, and while the facial animation occasionally drifts into uncanny valley, the actor performances are outstanding. Fetch is great, but my favorite dynamic is between Delsin and his brother. Playing through as a good guy, I do question how Delsin’s brother (a cop) would reconcile a murderous rampage. Seems like it would be a hard sell. Otherwise, their relationship is believeable and entertaining, and I feel like it grounds Delsin in a positive way.

And major points for having Delsin act like any sane person would act if they found out they suddenly had super powers: fucking psyched.

I’ve also kind of fallen in love with Diablo again. I was on that road after update 2.0, but the expansion proper has cemented it.

Act V is all well and good, but make no mistake, the true star here is the new Adventure Mode. This is exactly what a loot grind like Diablo needs. Randomized missions.

The bounties still take place in Sanctuary proper, in the same areas you’re familiar with. But you’re no longer listening to/doing the same bullshit story quests fifty times over in order to simply grind loot. Now you’re knocking out randomly assigned objectives for fun and profit. Pop in, do a bounty, you get some loot along the way, and at the end, you get a bunch of money and experience.

Do all of the bounties in an act, and Tyrael gives you a chest reward full of random loot. Do enough bounties to collect rift shards and you can open up a nephalem rift. Nephalem Rifts are essentially constant enemies through a randomized multi-level dungeon. Killing enemies fills a meter, and when the meter is full, out comes a big bad. Kill him for even more money, xp and loot.

Diablo is a simple premise: kill stuff for loot, use said loot to kill more stuff for better loot. It’s a treadmill, and an obvious one at that. At least this way, Blizzard has made it easy and fun to just get in there and do what we want; kill a fuckton of enemies and vacuum up everything they drop.

The mystic helps too. She’s expensive as fuck, but when you find an item that’s aaaaalmost perfect but not quite, at least now you have a shot at getting it there. It’s really nice.

I’m not sure how long this particular treadmill will keep me hooked, since I don’t think I’m the type to level up multiple characters, but I will say that it has traveled leaps and bounds from the game that launched a couple of years ago. It’s a shame this isn’t the game they launched with, but hey, better late than never.

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