Sucker Punch Productions, the Seattle-based gaming developer, has a couple of successes in their win-loss column. But how does their smokey, next-gen offering shape up? Sucker Punch Productions, the Seattle-based gaming developer, has a couple of successes in their win-loss column. But how does their smokey, next-gen offering shape up?

REVIEW: 'inFamous: Second Son' Is Exhilarating, But Not The System Selling Game The PS4 Needs

Sucker Punch Productions, the Seattle-based gaming developer, has a couple of successes in their win-loss column. But how does their smokey, next-gen offering shape up?

Gamers, players, users — whatever you want to call them — they've all been clamoring for a next-gen game to embolden the PlayStation 4. Designed to show off the power of the new console, inFamous: Second Son carries the same burden of expectation as Mark Cerny's beloved baby. With the first two games (inFamous and inFamous 2) serving as moderate successes for the PlayStation 3, inFamous: Second Son features a new character, a new setting and an original standalone story. You're thrusted into the life of a rabble-rousing young rebel named Delsin Rowe who discovers (after a series of events) that his hands can conjure smoke and set the (open) world on fire. As a lover of graffiti, the Banksy-inspired Conduit manages to use his stenciled art to poke fun at the police state which takes place in a real-world Seattle setting.

Several years since the Cole MacGrath saga, Conduits have survived the events of New Marais and Empire City, which has forced the Department of Unified Protection into existence and into hunting those with special powers. Delsin (mo-capped and voiced by Troy Baker) and his police officer brother, Reggie, attempt to free Seattle from the vicious clutches of the DUP, led by Brooke Augustine. And while the game's plot doesn't offer anything new, it is mildly interesting and visually stunning. Something to point out is that it would have been great if some of the back stories of Second Son's supporting characters like Fetch and Eugene were a little more fleshed out. The game's unique art direction, which was led by Horia Dociu and his team, adds an element of realism to the open world adventure game. At night, Delsin's smoke and neon Conduit abilities look amazing thanks to the PlayStation 4's powerfully high polygon counts and flashy lighting effects.

Sucker Punch, which knows Seattle like the back of its collective hand, features nationally known and locally appreciated landmarks such as the Space Needle and the city's monorail. The cut scenes — which honestly grain a bit long in the tooth — don't jar the player from the gameplay. Also, traveling around the open world area of Seattle is fun as you can really get an Earthy feel for the area and the popular locations wherein. The DualShock 4 also helps the game to win by utilizing the small touchpad that allows Delsin to open heavy gates with a swipe of the finger. Karmic choices also return just like in previous entries in the series, which allows you to force Delsin in playing as a hero or as a villain. During our play through, we opted for the good guy route, which found Delsin's abilities more honed towards precision than utter destruction. Even when he deviates from main missions in favor of using art as a weapon, the player's graffiti choices will resonate throughout Seattle for good or bad, depending on you. With all the things that is going on in this government-controlled Seattle (fingerprint checkpoints, unmanned drones, wire taps), the third entry in the series largely comes across as a pretty picture with no concrete-honed point of view.

A major failing point in Second Son comes with the in-game camera. The enemies are many and can come from all angles, but the camera sometimes falters to pass through environmental objects that should have been transparent. Parkour, which is a staple in the inFamous franchise, sometimes makes Delsin's vertical movements impossible to follow. Wherein before Cole MacGrath was able to scale walls and leap from buildings with grace, there's so much focus on realism in Second Son that is skews the physics and finds Delsin looking like he's struggling to climb a tree. In addition to that, there are plenty of side missions, and while all are not mandatory, some of them are just boring and uninspired. Finding the hidden camera or follow the undercover DUP officer do little to flesh out the overall story of the government's control of Seattle, and don't add an extra level of fun to the overall experience. The last major bluster comes in the game's lack of variety in fighting. Second Son, instead of allowing players to show off their repertoire of upgraded moves, just forces you to fight an increasingly greater number of foes. While the boss fight manages to shake things up a bit, the allure of taking on Seattle's authority figures comes off a bit more lackluster and difficult than it needed to be.

The bottom line is that inFamous: Second Son is exhilarating and plays as a next-gen offering, but there's no extra oomph. Visually, the game works thanks to Horia Dociu and his team, which will certainly attract new and familiar gamers alike. But, the gameplay comes off as a standard-rate open-word action-adventure title; one where gamers must follow, find, and track in a checklist of missions. Some powers are unavailable to you no matter what karmic choice you play as, which means that Sucker Punch still paints the franchise too black and white, with little to no room for grey. Neither path you take differs the missions or mechanics when you go into a second play through. For all of the side missions to add weight to inFamous: Second Son, there's just not enough interesting things to do in Seattle to lure anyone but the most staunch completionists into its post-game exploration. The game feels really close to having another franchise hero like Nathan Drake, but the lack of a fully fleshed-out story, complicated camera work, and a mundane mission structure leave inFamous: Second Son as not the system-selling game the PlayStation 4 needs.

Don't believe us?! Well, just watch the trailer for yourself below:

inFamous: Second Son is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and is currently in stores now.

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‘Boyz N The Hood’ And ‘You Got Served’ Actress Esther Scott Dies At Age 66

Esther Scott, the actress who appeared in Boyz n the Hood, Beverly Hills 90210, Full House, You Got Served and more, has passed away at age 66.

Scott died last Friday (Feb. 14), days after suffering an apparent heart attack. Her death was first reported on Tuesday (Feb. 18) by TMZ.

According to the site, Scott was found unconscious in her Santa Monica, Calif. home last Tuesday (Feb. 11) and remained hospitalized for several days before passing away on Valentine's Day surrounded by friends and family.

"She loved what she did. She would get stopped on the street often and people would recognize her -- but they didn't know her name," Scott's sister told the website. "Hopefully now people will remember her name, her work and the contributions she gave to the entertainment industry."

The Queens native began her career as a voice actress in the ‘80s series StarWars: Ewoks. Scott’s first credited feature film role was as grandmother to the character Tisha (played by Leonette Scott) in Boyz n the Hood.

Scott worked steadily throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, following up her appearance in Boyz n the Hood with roles in Encino Man, Don Juan DeMarco, Illegal Blue, Species, The Craft, and Out to Sea.

Scott found success in both TV and film appearing as a judge in Austin Powers in Goldmember, a grandmother in You Got Served, as well as roles in Dreamgirls, Transformers, Gangster Squad, and The Birth of a Nation, The Steve Harvey Show, Party of Five, Ellen, Hart of Dixie, and Sister, Sister.

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Malcolm X’s Assassination To Be Reinvestigated After Docuseries Raises Questions

A documentary on Malcolm X’s assassination has prompted authorities to reexamine the case. In Who Killed Malcolm X? historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad explores the many questions surrounding the death of one of history’s most pivotal figures. The six-part series originally aired on Fusion but has been gaining popularity since appearing on Netflix.

This February will mark the 55-year anniversary of Malcolm’s murder. The former Nation of Islam leader, who left the organization and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was gunned down inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965. Three members of the NOI, Mujahid Abdul Halim, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, were convicted for the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

As noted by the Innocence Project, Aziz and Islam always maintained their innocence, while Halim confessed to partaking in the fatal shooting. In 1966, Halim testified that Aziz and Islam had “nothing to do” with the murder. In 1978, Halim identified four other men as co-conspirators. His confession was supported by FBI documents obtained by civil rights lawyer William Kunstler. Prosecutors in the original trial claimed to have been unaware of the documents and New York State Supreme Court Judge Harold Rothwax ultimately rejected a motion to vacate Aziz and Islam’s convictions. Rothwax died in 1997.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has since met with representatives from the Innocence Project “and associated counsel regarding the matter,” a spokesperson for the DA’s office said in an emailed statement, per NPR.

Although Islam died in 2009, Aziz, now 81, continues to fight to clear his name. He was freed on parole in 1985. The Innocence Project joined forces with civil rights attorney David Shanies to re-investigate Azis’s conviction. “We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction of Muhammad Aziz. Given the historical importance of this case and the fact that our client is 81 years old, we are especially encouraged that Mr. Vance has assigned two highly respected prosecutors, Peter Casolaro and Charles King, to work on this re-investigation,” the Innocence Project and Shanies said in a joint statement. “We look forward to working cooperatively with them to see that justice is done.”

Casolaro worked on the case of the Exonerated Five and King is a member of the Conviction Integrity Program of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

As noted by the Innocence Project, there was no physical evidence linking Aziz or Islam to Malcolm’s murder. In fact, Aziz wasn’t even at the venue. The day of the murder, Aziz had returned home after being treated for a leg injury. He heard about Malcolm's assassination while listening to the radio that day, and has doctors and witnesses, to corroborate his story.

Watch the trailer for Who Killed Malcolm X? below.

 

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Ava DuVernay Named Director Of Nipsey Hussle Documentary For Netflix

Ava DuVernay's next cinematic feat will center on a hometown legend. According to Deadline, the acclaimed director will lead a documentary on Nipsey Hussle for streaming giant Netflix.

The announcement was made on Monday (Feb. 10), two weeks since DuVernay presented a musical tribute to the late rapper at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Hussle won two gramophones that evening: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance.

In tribute to his birthday on August 15, the Emmy-award winning director shared a message on Twitter that expressed her gratitude for the interactions they had. "Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time," she wrote. "In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us."

For Nipsey. Ermias. Son. Brother. Partner. Friend. Artist. Champion. Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time. In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us. We miss you. Happy Birthday, Nip. xo pic.twitter.com/cNEZHUhiao

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 15, 2019

On March 31, 2019, Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was fatally shot outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. His death rattled various communities and prompted supporters and new fans to take a look back at this trajectory within music and entrepreneurship.

According to Billboard, other streaming services in the mix included Apple and Amazon. Alongside Hussle's family, the entrepreneur's Marathon Films will also helm production duties.

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