inFAMOUS: Second Son Debuts with 81 on Metacritic; Praised but Held Back by Innovation Expectations

inFAMOUS: Second Son Debuts with 81 on Metacritic; Praised but Held Back by Innovation Expectations

The embargo on reviews of inFAMOUS: Second Son has been dropped earlier today, and the first numbers are in, with the game getting a very respectable 81 on Metacritic, Featured reviews include a couple 100s and a pair of 60s, with a quite broad range in between. According to Mertacritic’s grading system there have been 46 positive reviews, 14 mixed ones and no negatives.

The current Metacritic score places Sucker Punch’s latest game in 15th place between PS4 games, on the same level as Steamworld Dig, just under titles like ZEN Pinball 2, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and above Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition and Need for Speed: Rivals.

Many reviews pegged inFAMOUS: Second Son as the best of the series, but it’s paradoxically the inFAMOUS game (excluding DLC) with the worst Metacritic score: inFAMOUS has an 85 and inFAMOUS 2 was awarded a weighed average of 83.

Interestingly enough the most common complaint between the less stellar reviews is about lack of innovation, as quite a few reviewers complained that the game doesn’t change the formula too much from its predecessors or other open world games.

We read quotes like the following:

The best in the series to date, inFAMOUS: Second Son tells an amazing story and gives players a ton of relishable power to play with. It’s held back by some outdated and formulaic ideas, but overall it’ll keep players happy. (the Escapist)

As pretty and playable as it is, in no sense is inFamous: Second Son a post-Grand Theft Auto 5 open-world game. It’s just a tidier, shorter and shinier one. It’s easy to enjoy and has a winning personality, but it’s reluctant to deviate from a stale streetmap of game city. It’s no rebel, then. In fact, it’s a conformist. (Eurogamer)

Improper comparisons with Grand Theft Auto V aside, it seems that with the outset of the new generation many writers are giving originality and innovation more and more importance, often penalizing games that are a lot of fun because they don’t deviate too much from their predecessors or from the formula of their genre. inFAMOUS: Second Son isn’t the first title that seems to show this kind of trend.

It’s an interesting trend to observe, but one I really can’t get behind. Personally I feel games should be rated mostly on their quality and on how much enjoyment their provide to gamers. Originality and innovation are great, but they’re most definitely not objective factors to a title’s enjoyment or to its gameplay and production values. It’s also quite relevant that, without naming names, quite a few of the publications that criticized inFAMOUS: Second Son for its lack of innovation didn’t really mind that “flaw” too much when it was time to review Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar’s open world crime romp is awesome, but didn’t exactly tread revolutionary grounds itself.

Our very own Tony awarded inFAMOUS: Second Son with a 9.5 out of 10, and for what it’s worth I definitely agree with that score and with his review in general. The game doesn’t just look awesome visuals-wise, but it’s a whole lot of fun and it plays like a dream.

What about you? Do you feel innovation or lack of thereof should play such a relevant role in scoring games? Or maybe reviewers should go back to looking at games for what they are and not for what they think they should be due their (maybe unreasonable) expectations for a gameplay revolution?