Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Watch_Dogs 2: PS4 Review

Watch_Dogs 2: PS4 Review

Released by Ubisoft
Platform: PS4

It's a hard life being a sequel.

Especially when you're following the much derided Watch_Dogs, an Ubisoft title that got itself a fair share of unfair criticism for its dour plot, slightly dull protagonist and repetitive game play.

Well, even though apathy may have hit some at the news a second Watch_Dogs was on the way, they'll be blown out of the water by the game which easily eclipses its past and emerges as a real contender for game of the year as we head into the last 2 months of 2016.

This time around, rerouting the action to San Francisco and the Bay area seems a great move - and throwing in a lead whose punkishly amusing trains of thought and execution fuel a great deal of fun in the game.

The Big Brother machine ethos is still in full effect in Watch_Dogs 2 with your main character Marcus Holloway setting out to take down his profile from the Central Operating System as the game begins. Once this mission of infiltration is complete, Holloway's kidnapped by a hacking collective known as DedSec.
Coming to, Holloway realises he's been inducted into their world and sets out to be part of the group, following their aims and desires to bring a bit of anarchy to the monitoring system that's in play.

And this is really where the fun begins in this open world game.

Revelling in an ethos that came to life in the massive open world of Grand Theft Auto, Watch_Dogs 2 is a bright, vibrant, loose and nimble sequel that is easy to lose hours in.

Whether it's fulfilling the ongoing missions that are laid down by DedSec, or becoming an Uber style driver with various tasks (a la taxi missions from GTA) to simply lifting cash from passers-by by hacking into their phones, there's so much to do, explore and see in Watch_Dogs 2 that it's no wonder the main story missions end up being sidelined.

It helps that the NPCs fuel such a rich world around the Bay Area and that every encounter proves to be another distraction; this is a world that's both realistic and utterly compelling; a sort of Second Life San Fran to throw yourself into. Stealth is once again needed and Holloway gains experience and followers by completing jobs (thus expanding out his own experience and skill base).
But there's much that's rich on display here and a smattering of social commentary thrown in as well (one of the Uber style missions sees your passenger starting to lay claims against what Uber's doing to the industry) and these ingredients all combine to keep the world feeling like it's incredibly realistic and utterly engaging.

Marcus himself is a nicely visualised character and the DedSec gang all work well (no real Hackers style cliches here, but to be frank, they'd be forgiven) - from using drones or a RC to help him achieve some of his tasks, there's much around to ensure that Marcus can progress easily. Most of the time when things go wrong, it's due to your own efforts, rather than glitches from the game. The police are ferocious and chases are frenetic and adrenaline-fuelled; there's little to do when the chase is on but try to get out of it as quickly as you can.

And that's nowhere near as easy as it sounds.

The online elements of the game are currently down due to Ubisoft issues, so can't be fully reviewed at this stage, but regardless of that, the main game itself is well worth owning.

The Watch_Dogs sequel is utterly essential; if you're after a game that consumes your life and you have a damn good time letting it do so, then this hacking saga is ultimately going to consume you. With its bright breezy gameplay and its tremendously engaging outlook, Watch_Dogs 2 is one for the ages - it's hard to see if they go for a threequel, how this slice of gaming perfection could be topped.

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