Infamous: Second Son

 
(i)

 

Teens opt to be saviors or slayers in dark superhero game.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story revolves around the notion of discrimination due to lack of understanding and the potentially wide-ranging consequences of bigotry. It also explores how the bonds of friendship and family can be tested under difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, these interesting ideas often are lost amid frequent and sensational violence.   

Positive role models

At the start of the game, the hero is a graffiti artist and minor troublemaker. He's a Native American with strong links to his tribe and what seems like a generally benevolent nature, but it's up to players to steer him toward good or evil once he gets his superpowers. Players can choose to make him kill his enemies or simply incapacitate them, and they can have him either help innocents in need or heartlessly murder them.

Ease of play

Aside from a few interesting touchpad interactions, the controls are pretty much standard for third-person action games and easy to get the hang of. Success isn't too hard to come by, and players can change difficulty settings whenever they like if they're finding things too easy or too hard.

Violence

The player's character is bestowed with superhero powers that have the potential to make him a massive force of destruction. He can shoot missiles from his hands, smash the ground and collapse structures, imbue chains with the power of smoke and use them as whips, and summon a sword made of neon energy that he can use to strike down enemies. There is no gore, but small splashes of blood accompany some injuries, and players have the option to make the game's protagonist execute injured characters with his bare hands, causing them to disintegrate. He also can kill random civilians, often without much, if any, consequence, earning "evil karma" points as a reward.

Sex

Dialogue includes occasional references to sex (such as the phrase "get laid") but doesn't get into anything explicit.  

Language

Occasional use of profanity, including the words "asshole," "dick," and "s--t."

Consumerism

This game is part of the Infamous series, a PlayStation-exclusive franchise designed with intent to convince consumers to buy PlayStation consoles. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hypodermic drugs of unknown type are referenced by characters, including a major ally who was once an addict and ended up killing her own brother in a drug-fueled frenzy. Drug paraphernalia is seen in the environment, but players can't interact with it. Players also encounter several armed and hostile drug gangs.

Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns. 

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. 

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

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 (PlayStation 4)

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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bywfbewmm April 18, 2014
 

Great game, disappointed in the amount of language...

ESRB is a generally good rating system, but they kinda slipped up when rating Infamous Second Son. I have beaten the game once and I am currently trying to finish it a second time, and there is a LOT of language in it. The language is really bad in the beginning of the game, yet it is limited to the S word, the D word, the B word, and some other one’s I might not have have caught. On the other hand, please, do not be afraid to get this for a teenager. If you are strict about language there is an option to turn dialogue off completely. Not only does the game have language, but some it also contains violence. Throughout the game, you will fight two different types of enemies: the D.U.P. and some drug dealers. While fighting them, you can either choose to execute the enemy, or subdue them. THERE IS NO BLOOD OR GORE WHATSOEVER. There are two scenes where you kill someone though, but the first scene is the worst because you suffocate someone’s father. The second scene, however is not nearly as violent. Now back to the dialogue, in order to turn off all talking (there is no “foul language off” command, only a absolute no talking option.) pause the Infamous Second son game. Next, press the triangle button (this is also how to manually save the game). Then, look through the options menu until you reach dialogue, and turn it all the way down. You can press triangle during gameplay to toggle subtitles if you want to read what they’re saying. The reason you have options to either kill or subdue enemies is because the game works off a karma system. When evil, you try to cause as much pain and destruction as possible. When good, you have a harder challenge - you must protect the citizens (ACTIVIST) from danger while trying to only subdue the enemies (which I find to be more difficult.) I would recommend playing the good side with younger audiences, such as a 12 or 13 year-old. I hope this review will help you understand that Infamous Second Son is a fun open world third person game, that has both upsides and downsides. It has amazing graphics, but foul language. I would recommend this fun and exciting game to any teenager because the language is the only problem, and without the language it is a good game with morals (if you play the hero.) This review was mainly for parents to understand that ERSB might have slipped up while rating the game, so that you don’t make the same mistakes my dad and I made when we purchased this form of entertainment.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old April 3, 2014
 

Iffy for kids under 10.

This is an amazing superhero game, where the player runs around in an open world setting, trying to take back the city of Seattle using their super powers, which you unlock. There is an option to kill civilians and regular people, and the game encourages it if you chose to be bad. Otherwise, the game teaches that drugs, and bullying is bad. I think that this is a great game, and kids over the age of 10 could play it with no real harm.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Kid, 11 years old April 4, 2014
 

Awesome game awash in disturbing violence

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