The first “inFamous” married the open-world exploration of the “Grand Theft Auto” series with electricity superpowers and the option of playing as a hero or villain. As the player explored Empire City, a New York stand-in, they gained new powers and eventually faced off against a mysterious antagonist who prophesized the coming of The Beast, a being who would wipe out all humanity.

I’m glad to say that the sequel not only lives up to the promise of its predecessor, it completely surpasses it with rich new locales, an intriguing story, and some groundbreaking user-content-created features.

The story hits the ground running with a fantastic opening sequence that acquaints Cole with The Beast. He then travels to New Marais to meet a scientist who believes he can enhance Cole’s electricity powers to the point that he will be able to defeat the Beast and save mankind. Our hero (or villain, depending on how you play the game) will battle muggers, swamp monsters, and the local militia who want to “cleanse” the city of super-powered beings.

As in the first game, what makes the story interesting is which side of the moral compass you choose to follow. Yes, you can overload a circuit board to start a fire that burns down a village of gun-toting bad guys, but you’ll also kill a lot of civilians in the process. Whether you take the moral high ground or the easy way out will change what powers you gain access to as the game progresses. Your two main sidekicks are Kuo, a National Security Agent who can shoot ice from her hands, and Nix, a freedom fighter who burns her enemies with oil and fire. Think of them as the angel and devil on your shoulder.

Spend too much time jaywalking and kicking random civilians and you’ll end up with fire powers courtesy of Nix. Conversely, reviving sick citizens and being a general do-gooder will net you some nifty ice powers. Your choices will also affect the game’s ending, and believe me when I say it’s worth your time to play through the game twice to see both sides of the coin. Considering that a single playthrough will take around twenty hours, “inFamous 2” definitely brings a lot of bang for your buck.

You will also have access to all of the wall-climbing, bolt-blasting, ion storm-summoning goodness from the first game. The melee combat has been given a shot in the arm with the addition of a massive tuning fork that shocks opponents with each strike. The melee combat is a satisfying addition, but the camera can be unreliable at times.

“inFamous” is all about freedom to explore the city using your arsenal of superpowers. One of the main improvements is how much more interesting the new city is to explore. New Marais is a comic book caricature of New Orleans, full of glowing neon-lit red light districts, bayous infested with grotesque swamp mutants, and several flooded areas clearly invoking post-Katrina imagery. Just like its real-world counterpart, New Marais is a fascinating place to explore, and Sucker Punch should be commended for creating one of the most compelling cities yet featured in a video game. However, all the scenery wouldn’t mean a thing if there wasn’t a slew of fun and varied missions to undertake, and “inFamous 2” excels in that category as well. Between performing parkour stunts, finding Blast Shards to increase your power level and mopping up crime on the streets, there’s plenty of fun to be had in this game

What puts “inFamous 2” in a class of its own is how it allows user-generated content to appear in the game world as you play. It’s like a pinch of “Little Big Planet” in the game’s gumbo, and it essentially provides a game with an already impressive amount of content nearly infinite replay value. Tired of doing the story missions? Try one of the wacky user-created levels or design your own and upload it for others to enjoy.

“inFamous 2” doesn’t just beat the series’ sophomore slump. It blasts it into the stratosphere with a massive lightning bolt and incinerates it with a fiery tornado. Fans of superheroes and open-world exploration should not let this game pass them by.