If you were tentative about purchasing Watchdogs 2 after the (let’s be honest) debacle of the first game, maybe debacle is too strong a word, but it certainly was a let down from the original E3 2012 footage we were given by Ubisoft, don’t worry, you were certainly not alone. I’m not going to go into the controversy of “graphical downgrades” etc. because I’m a console gamer and none of that applied personally to me. I was simply let down by the game itself. Delving into the biggest thing in my view first, Aiden Pierce. If one was to describe Aiden, I think beige comes to mind, the dullest person to ever wear a duster coat, promise was certainly shown as a new IP but I felt a sense of Assassins Creed syndrome, the first game was more of a tech demo and maybe the second game could deliver on the promises of the first. Let’s see if Ubisoft could deliver on their sophomore effort.
Out of the darkness literally comes Watchdogs 2, gone are the days of the bitter, dreary backdrop of Chicago that was in the first game and in comes the radiant hipster flush grounds of San Francisco and with a new location comes a new protagonist, Marcus Holloway (Ruffin Prentiss). Marcus is a happy-go-lucky hacker who has been wronged by being accused of a crime he did not commit and so his introduction to Ded-Sec begins and their crusade for the wronged and maligned. Attacking such parodies of Scientology, Google and Martin Shkreli, among others.
The biggest and most important question to ask while playing a game is it fun? Well, despite all the issues and problems Watchdogs 2 has I can honestly say I had a blast playing through San Francisco and even though Marcus and Ded-Sec’s story for the people is full of plot holes and contradictions, it’s fun enough to keep you entertained from beginning to end. San Francisco is full of things to do whether they be big or small, there’s a joyous little app on you’re in game phone that challenges you to find all the landmarks the city has to offer and take a selfie in front of them, maximising your followers in the meantime. It’s a tiny addition and will feel like busywork to many but I enjoyed finding these little goodies scattered across the map. There’s areas around the map controlled by local gangs too that if you choose to you can infiltrate with your handy drone and remote-controlled car. The addition of these treasures cannot be understated, they are easy to use and you can filter through a whole enemy base without even moving Marcus an inch. Driving has been revamped from the original game and has vastly improved but still, don’t expect Grand Theft Auto level of driving, it’s more inclined towards Just Cause 3 and it’s arcade style, but again the effort to revamp it was greatly appreciated, I couldn’t stand driving in the first game.
Now Watchdogs 2 gives you full control on how to attack the game’s missions, you can go full guns blazing and hope that your aim and reloading action is smooth and doesn’t get you murdered (Marcus doesn’t take a lot of bullets before succumbing to the grim reaper) or you can take the stealthy approach and sneak inside bases and take enemies down using your melee weapon (what looks like a billiards ball attached to an elastic rope) or even stay out of the action zone and send in your drone/RC car, personally I opted for the stealthy and drone assisted route as the shooting in Watchdogs 2 is fine but nothing to shout home about, it’s also a tad jarring playing as a happy-go-lucky chap like Marcus who laughs and jokes about with his hacker friends as they try and make the world a better place and then go and shotgun a policeman in the face and act like nothing has changed, it’s much better narratively in my humble opinion if Marcus uses melee weapons and knocks his opponents out instead brutally murdering them in cold blood, while you’re in game Bluetooth music player plays Major Lazer in the background.
Graphically Watchdogs 2 shines on the PS4, the vibrant colours of San Francisco pop off the screen, at times feeling like a game directed by JJ Abrams the amount of times the sunlight glares at your face (don’t look directly into the virtual sun). But if one takes a closer look, cracks start to appear, textures are used lazily and please don’t look directly at Marcus when he speaks, he may haunt your nightmares sooner than you think. Graphics in Watchdogs 2 is the complete opposite of Watchdogs 1; it’s bright and never a shade of grey enters your vision.
After being let-down by the first in the franchise, I can honestly say, I think Ubisoft have achieved another Assassins Creed 2 and have improved upon the failings of a new IP, there’s still problems with the story and the tone of the game shifting to be whatever it needs from the player at the time, but hey if we’re following the path of Assassins Creed, I await the eventual 5 sequels in 4 years followed by a box office bomb of a movie starring shall we say Michael B. Jordan? I’ll see you soon for Watchdogs: Brotherhood.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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