Pros
More engaging heroes and anarchic humour
Strong and entertaining mission design
Great setting and fun side-activities
Better tools and more freedom to utilize them your way
Cons
Movement doesn’t always feel under full control
Dim-witted AI
Key Specifications
Review Price: £42.00
Watch Dogs 2 release date: 15 November
Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PS4 (version tested)
On Xbox One, PS4 (version tested), PC
Nine years back Ubisoft released a casino game that was likely to define a console generation. It looked astonishing, had sky-high production values and was filled with strong ideas. Yet, Assassin’s Creed wasn’t all that people had envisioned. It had a dour, unengaging hero, a repetitive structure, samey missions, flaws in the combat and controls. 2 yrs later Ubisoft released a sequel that fixed practically each one of these issues and gave us a hero and a tale we could value. Assassin’s Creed 2 was the redemption of Assassin’s Creed.

Can history repeat? Around two . 5 years back Ubisoft released another game that seemed set to define a console generation. It looked astonishing, had sky-high production values and was filled with strong ideas, nonetheless it was also saddled with a dour, unengaging and downright dislikeable hero, a repetitive structure, samey missions and flaws in the combat and controls.

By now, you often will see where I’m choosing this, even though I wouldn’t as if you to feel that Watch Dogs 2 was a triumph of the scale of Assassin’s Creed 2, it’s a more vibrant, entertaining and enjoyable game compared to the original Watch Dogs. Like so many recent Ubi games it is suffering from a bunch of annoying niggles and a feeling of overfamiliarity, and Assassin’s Creed found its identity with Ezio Auditore di Firenze, so Watch Dogs has found the same with Marcus Holloway and his hacking crew.

Watch: What you ought to find out about Watch Dogs 2

With Aiden Pearce ditched as lead the action now centres on Holloway, a gifted young hacker and the most recent recruit for DedSec, a hacking collective operating in a near-future SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA. DeadSec reaches war with Blume, the organization behind the revamped ctOS networked city operating-system, plus a selection of other bodies where Blume has interests, including technology companies, movie studios and a scientology-style church. To win, DeadSec must expose Blume and its own allies, create a massive following and create an enormous botnet formed from an incredible number of smartphones and devices. It’s the only method to take CtOS 2.0 and Blume down once and for all.

While Marcus is your sole protagonist, he’s no loner, with each one of the three other core Deadsec members getting their own specialities. Sitara handles the visual design and branding, the perma-masked Wrench can be an engineer and gizmo fiend, while Josh may be the resident coding genius and general rocket scientist. And what does Marcus bring to the party? Well, like Aiden he’s the guy on the floor, breaking into corporate facilities, hacking systems and discovering their dirty secrets, whatever they are.

Marcus’s basic toolkit is a lot exactly like Aiden’s, though he spends additional time working on a notebook computer than on some super-magic-uber-smartphone. He doesn’t have the parkour capacities of an assassin, but he accocunts for for it having the ability to hack local devices at a tap of the L1 button, opening doors, siphoning data from computers, controlling window-cleaning lifts, fork-lifts and elevating platforms, not forgetting overtaking security camera networks, extending his grasp beyond his physical reach. Like Aiden, Marcus may also prime useful items of infrastructure to are lethal or non-lethal traps, transforming a power fuseboard right into a proximity stun-mine or a gas pipe into an explosive device.

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Beyond that, Marcus includes a collection of other gadgets. A difficult ball on a rope works as his basic melee weapon, while a 3D printer back at DedSec HQ can print a variety of stun pistols, handguns, shotguns, assault rifles and SMGs, the choice growing as DeadSec hoovers up more money. And in the very best recent addition, Watch Dogs 2 throws in the RC Jumper, a two-wheeled drone that Marcus can send under direct control into enemy strongholds, where it could travel through vents and hack into systems on Marcus’s behalf. It’s extending claw is specially adorable, making RC Jumper the year’s best robot buddy after Titanfall 2’s BT.

Now, that is another big Ubisoft open world game, in order to neglect that it’s filled with systems, side-missions and an abundance of activities, which range from motorcross races to hacking challenges to varied collectibles to Drivr: SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA; a whole blast of lunatic driving escapades where you’ll drive clients around performing whatever weird and wonderful tasks they require.

In ways, that’s emblematic of what Watch Dogs 2 gets right, embracing the anarchic, out for laughs culture of the hacking community and parodying attitudes to technology and social media instead of taking the much more serious, social justice-led approach of its forebear. Therefore, the sequel’s side activities sit far more comfortably than those of the initial game, where they either felt generic or a distraction from Aiden Pearce’s vengeance-fuelled crusade.

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Yet it’s also clear that Ubisoft is hearing the criticisms of recent Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed games. Watch Dogs 2 studiously avoids the most common climb the tower/discover missions/complete missions/conquer the region structure towards something more modular, free-flowing and narrative-driven, where your focus is on defeating another of Blume’s plans and gaining more followers, one mission at the same time. In ways, this actually makes Watch Dogs 2 feel nearer to a hacker-themed GTA – a good high-tech Saints Row – yet if the move produces a less repetitive, more entertaining game, who’s complaining?

The total amount of the gameplay in addition has shifted. Sometimes, Watch Dogs felt too combat-oriented, almost encouraging you to go loud in the event that you were struggling to remain quiet. In Watch Dogs 2 violence feels a lot more of a final resort, though frustration with the stealth can still push you right into a gunfight every once in awhile. Driving, meanwhile, is more about optional racing than about the original’s frustrating set-piece chase sequences, where merciless police forces ground you down. Even the sneaking around is normally more flexible, providing you the tools you will need – like RC Jumper and an aerial drone – to get one of these range of options and discover what works.

Even the mission design appears stronger. Sure, there’s a whole lot of slow infiltration, camera-hopping and, that old chestnut, car or freight-truck theft, but with SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA and Silicon Valley tech culture in the foreground, there’s more variety in the locations, more possibility to explore the coast and back-country plus some more interesting objectives too. Vehicles seem to be to handle better these times, making any missions with driving in far more enjoyable. It’s even funny, throwing in skits on Knight Rider, eighties celebrities, smug high-tech corporations and intrusive IoT pioneers and social media companies, both parodied here better than in GTA V. The effect is a casino game that doesn’t grow boring all prematurely and where there’s a feeling of excitement each and every time a mission starts.

On top of all of this, Watch Dogs 2 must have seamless, drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, where you could invite friends set for co-op action or duel with rival hackers, invading each other’s games, stealing data through subterfuge, and even dealing with 3vs1 bounty hunt missions against most players who’ve been triggering an excessive amount of chaos on the streets. I say ‘should have’ because, pre-launch, the seamless multiplayer isn’t working. I’ll return and cover it in greater detail when Ubisoft issues a fix.

So, is this the overall game where in fact the Watch Dogs franchise secures a golden future? It depends. On the main one hand, it’s great-looking, colourful and vibrant, with beautiful, highly-detailed visuals and an inspired usage of hacker iconography. Like Sunset Overdrive or inFamous: First Light, it’s rather a riot of neon-light and colour.

Alternatively, and for all your good stuff mentioned previously, there’s a whole lot of other things that still isn’t perfect. Enemy AI, to begin with, is pretty lacklustre. Guards patrolling predictable routes is a staple of the genre, but those here seem to be spectacularly dumb, and much more so when engaged in combat, where they’ll happily flood towards an area to be gunned down because they come through a doorway, the corpses literally turning up. Even though it’s good to possess a less aggressive police and fewer chases, a number of the original’s sense of fugitive paranoia has truly gone with it. You can literally slaughter every guard in a building then stroll out from the front door, visit a moped and ride to freedom, unbothered. It’s only later in the overall game that you are feeling the forces of justice really closing in.

Just how movement and traversal are handled also offers its irritations; for the reason that game infers what you would like to accomplish when you’re squeezing the right-trigger it includes a nasty habit of deciding that, instead of, say, jumping right into a window-cleaner’s crane lift, you’d rather jump onto one guardrail, then your opposite guard rail, then dive heroically off onto the road six floors below.

Additionally, it may feel bitty. As the plot all fits in place and the villains improve the stakes around eight hours in, Watch Dogs 2 can feel just like a disparate group of missions clinging to a central thread. There are a great number of great ideas here, nonetheless they don’t always get together as you experience. What’s more, there are a few not-so-great ideas in play. I’d nearly got used to a repeated puzzle-based hacking element, where you must rotate switches to create circuits to work around security, when the overall game threw in a horrific hacking competition at a desert festival that practically stopped my game in its tracks. Active and manipulating the switches is tough enough, but carrying it out against the stiff time period limit soon gets infuriating.

But almost all of all, Watch Dogs 2 faces one obstacle classic Ezio didn’t need to cope with; over-familiarity. We’ve had a whole lot of urban open-world games within the last seven years roughly, most of them from Ubisoft and several of them with an extremely similar style and feel. We’re addressing the point where you need to really push the boundaries or introduce something considerably not used to shake things up. I’m uncertain Watch Dogs 2 does enough.

In a nutshell, this isn’t among your all-time-greats. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be very good indeed. By daring to be bright, colourful, sometimes silly and – most of all – fun, Watch Dogs 2 should make an impression on even those that felt disappointed by the initial. By letting go of a few of its self-important seriousness, the Watch Dogs series has earned another chance.

Verdict
Watch Dogs 2 is no great revolution, nonetheless it sees the series headed in the proper direction with an increase of colour, more flair and a genuine sense of fun. The action’s solid and the mission design significantly less generic, while Ubisoft Montreal has given you an excellent group of tools and the freedom to utilize them as you will. If the initial Watch Dogs was a mean-looking hound, all bark, no bite, the sequel’s a far more playful pooch that’s about having a great time – and it’s all of the better for it.