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Game Review

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice. So it makes perfect sense that bike courier-turned-mini-Zeus Cole McGrath should be sent off to explore a new metropolis in inFAMOUS 2.

It all starts when a gigantic monster, prophesied at the end of the first franchise installment, pops up in Cole's hometown of Empire City. Because supercharged Cole may be mankind's only chance for survival, the government moves him and his wisecracking best bud Zeke a few thousand miles west to the sprawling Mecca of New Marias in the hope of gaining some time to figure out how to battle this latest threat.

In his new locale, Cole jumps into another round of lightning bolt-chucking, skyscraper-scaling, electric power line-skating action while he gears up for the inevitable big boss showdown against The Beast, which is inexorably making its destructive way toward him.

Throwing Sparks … Part 2
For those who know nothing about the  inFAMOUS storyline, the first game centered around a devastating blast that hit New York-esque Empire City. This unexpected cataclysm not only left the city in shambles, it endowed Cole with electricity-absorbing abilities and seemed to give rise to genetic monstrosities as well as a deadly plague. Now, as the plague spreads and the aforementioned 20-story terror carves a swath of destruction westward, Cole has to get his hands on hard-to-find power-ups called Blast Cores, expand his arsenal of skills and hopefully figure out how to activate a special device that can theoretically neutralize The Beast's powers.

If that's not enough, Cole also has to deal with some local headaches. His newly adopted home is being torn apart by scores of gun-wielding nasties who call themselves The Militia. This bloodthirsty gang is pulverizing the overtaxed local police force and doing everything it can to seize control of New Marias—including creating an army of its own superpowered baddies.

And that's where things get interesting.

Good or Bad: You Decide
As was the case in the first game, inFAMOUS 2 presents a clear delineation between the forces of good and the hordes of evil. Cole, however, falls somewhere in between—a guy with the potential and juiced-up power to head off in either direction. So gamers are given lots of ethical choices to make while they battle through the ensuing chaos. Cole can be played as a self-serving, heartless antihero who uses his abilities without a care for the innocents in his way, or he can take the more difficult path of actually being a hero.

For example, if a player finds Cole's progress blocked by an area full of thugs, police and fearful bystanders, he can blow up a nearby generator or loose a devastating tornado attack that wipes out everyone in a screaming jumble. Or he can slowly battle his way through the area while taking opportunities to help the authorities and protect civilians. Cole can stand by a fallen individual and drain away his last gasp of life, or choose to heal victims and capture bad guys with his electrical energies.

Every choice, for good or ill, gets tallied up on a running Karmic Meter. And the direction the ethical scales tip will determine the game's outcome and whether Cole is ultimately honored as a savior or hated as a villain.

Short Circuits
Of course, regardless of whether you play as a Superman or a General Zod, you're guaranteed to encounter a number of content zaps. Cole can't equip or fire any guns, but inFAMOUS 2 is still a shooter of sorts. This human lightning rod drains generator panels and electrical outlets of power, then blazes away with rapid-fire thunderbolts, energy artillery blasts and electric sniper rifle-like strikes. And he can lob sizzle grenades that explode on impact.

Cole also totes a dual-pronged melee weapon that combines a lightning blast with a beatdown or hook-and-toss thumping. While none of this bashing and zapping ever gets gory, there are several cutscenes—including one in which civilians are executed and thrown off a building—that feature dark imagery and blood spray.

Along with that T-rated violence, there's also a moderate amount of foul language scattered throughout, including uses of the s-word, "d‑‑n," "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard." Sexuality concerns center on one female character's skin-revealing outfit and a few smarmy comments tossed out by goofy sidekick Zeke. There's also a red-light district in New Marias that features adult theaters and clubs with window-front neon signs sporting silhouettes of shapely women and the words "Sexy" and "Live Nude Girls."

All in all, inFAMOUS 2 pretty closely mirrors its predecessor. And I'll leave you to decide whether or not that's a good thing.

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Episode Reviews

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