A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Infamous: Second Son is an open-world third-person superhero game rated Teen by the ESRB and that some of its content may be iffy for its target audience. Its story revolves around a Native American superhero unjustly persecuted by the government on account of his powers, and it tackles issues of discrimination. Players explore the consequences of this prejudice by choosing whether to lash out against the world as a supervillain or become a defender of the weak and savior of a city. However, these potentially interesting ideas are awash in excessive violence which, depending on the player's choices, may include the vicious killing -- via fantastical superpowers such as smoky chains and neon energy swords -- of not only enemies but also countless innocent civilians. Other mature elements include a subplot concerning a secondary character's tragic use of drugs and occasional references to sex in spoken dialogue.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Players take on the role of a young Native American who gains superhuman powers in INFAMOUS: SECOND SON, a third-person open-world action game exclusive to PlayStation 4 consoles. Delsin Rowe is only a graffiti artist and minor mischief maker in rural America when a prison truck carrying inmates with superpowers crashes on a nearby highway. Upon touching one of the prisoners, Delsin somehow absorbs his power: the ability to turn into and manipulate smoke. He's enthralled with his newfound abilities and is eager to use them. The government, however, fears and condemns people with special powers, dubbing them "bio-terrorists." So Delsin has a choice: Fight back against the authorities manipulating public opinion, or punish everyone for their closed-minded beliefs, killing not only soldiers but anyone in his path -- including weak and wounded civilians. Delsin's powers evolve according to the choices he makes, with some only available to a "good" hero and others -- typically more destructive in nature -- available only to an "evil" character.
Is it any good?
Infamous: Second Son makes great use of the PlayStation 4's processing power, offering players a beautifully rendered city to explore and some eye-popping superhero visual effects. The controls, meanwhile, provide ample opportunity to use the DualShock 4 controller's touchpad and motion sensors when interacting with objects in the environment and spraying graffiti art. Also, its story has the makings of something memorable, thanks mostly to a strong performance by veteran voice actor Troy Baker in the role of Delsin, a young man with a winning sense of humor who, depending on the player's choices, seems to legitimately struggle with the implications of his powers.
Unfortunately, the action suffers from a sense of repetition. Many of the activities players get up to -- hunting down surveillance cameras, looking for audio logs, destroying checkpoints and communications towers -- seem like filler, offering little variation from one sequence to the next. And, although Delsin earns a quartet of distinct base powers through the game -- smoke, neon, video, and concrete -- they're really only variations on a theme. Each comes with similar abilities, such as the capacity to fire projectiles and quickly scale buildings, that really only differ in terms of presentation and efficacy. It's certainly a spectacle and undeniably fun at times, but it also feels as though Infamous: Second Son could have been much more than it is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about discrimination. Can you think of a time when you may have acted unfairly toward someone simply because of what he or she looked like, represented, or believed? Why do you think you might have behaved the way you did? How do you think the other person felt about it?
Families also can discuss the impact of violence in media. Most games see players fighting decidedly bad guys, but this one permits players to open fire on and kill innocent civilians if they want to play as a villain. What did you choose, and why?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: March 21, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes, Violence
- Last updated: June 18, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.