The IP is back with a vengance and it’s clear this time round the devs listened to the many and made huge improvements on the last offering.
The game takes place in a very detailed San Francisco with it’s open world element in full effect. This time the protagonist goes by the name of Retr0 [Hacker alias] and from the get go draws you into a well thought out story.
For those new to the WatchDogs series the game bases itself in a world that is controlled by a large corporate network that has a very similar ‘Big Brother’ entity as the UK has in everything is run on one singular network called CtOs. This network operates all manner of everyday activities from stand alone banking transactions to full camera networks meaning all citizens are under watch at all times. The hacker group DedSec is a small [attempting to be ethical] group that wishes to free the masses and make them understand this singular network controls, much in the way the media, our outlook on the world. the characters are engaging and entertaining in the quirky ways they work together and feel more like a family. Once again drawing you into the story further you appreciate how the different personalities compliment each other as a whole.
Enough of the backstory and more of the gameplay mechanics and what can you expect from this big offering from Ubisoft.
I look at games from a very different standpoint lately and this is mainly due to the sheer size of them. Open world games have a fantastic array of missions, side quests and collectibles strewn throughout miles of city and this is appealing in a number of ways. Getting more bang for your buck in most cases but as a father and having limited time these games can be pretty daunting in their magnitude.
WatchDogs 2 balances the story with a good offering of side missions and you don’t feel drown in options when opening your map. A good interface runs standalone story and side missions in orange with the online offerings in purple. Now this means that even with limited time to cover the story you can dip in and out and not have the feeling of ‘What was going on? Why am I on this building?’
Don’t get me wrong as with all open world games side missions can become tedious and confusing to why your running round wallpapering for hours but the purpose of the missions themselves is to gain followers. Followers provide the facility to unlock further perks for your character and build your arsenal of gadgetry and weaponry. This character progression helps the game from falling into the play and forget bracket and gives a level of meaning. Let’s not forget as this generation grows the purpose of a majority of online life is to gains as many likes/followers through various social media outlets so gives an appeal to this side of ourselves.
Gameplay is very similar to the original but with far more finesse and I found the control settings themselves to be far easier to tweak to my own play style. Finally the driving mechanics feel closer to what we know [In comparison the other open world driving experiences *cough GTA cough*] but speaking with friends a lot of them stated they found themselves gravitiating away from watch dogs to play the aforementioned game instead which is not what Ubisoft would want. It’s an easy comparison to make but what WatchDogs does is allow the technically minded to complete stories without interacting with other NPC’s. Giving players challenging puzzles within hacking enviroments and drawing you into a world that many of us like the idea of but could never bring ourselves into. Don’t get me wrong if you want to arm yourself to the teeth and kill everything in the room go ahead but you’ll only make it far more difficult for yourself! There is a subtle strategy element to the game that makes it that much more enjoyable than the first and provides a fresh outlook to a series that could have been dragged backward but leaps forward.
The cover system works well allowing quick movement between cover but again is drawn back by occasional issues with camera angles. The shooting mechanics are stable but sometimes you have the frustration of being sure a headshot was landed and having to further unleash a barrage of 6 bullets when the right half of the head should no longer be there. Games will have flaws and unfortunately that looks like it will remain in future AAA titles but take these flaws with a pinch of salt, look close enough with WatchDogs 2 and you’ll find a real gem.
WatchDogs 2 is a solid offering of an open world with no restrictions and the added functionality of being in control with almost a superhuman level of tech. I’d recommend this to all players, even those who played the first and found it disappointing. Disappointed you won’t be [OK Yoda. ED] A solid cast of characters with plenty of variety in gamplay means theres something for everyone, you make the game what you want it to be.