The original Watch Dogs was nothing short of a marketing marvel. They managed to take an average at best game of create this insane amount of hype around it, only to vastly disappoint everyone when they first played it. I was one of those many people who spent their hard earned cash on it only to feel a sense of disappointment after playing it. It wasn’t that it was a bad game, it’s just that it was never able to live up to the insane amount of hype created when the first teaser was released. I remember many people saying it was the first true game for the current console generation but in actual fact, it fell rather short of that crown.
With all that being said you could either say that Watch Dogs 2 doesn’t have much to live up to or you could argue that it has even more to live up to as Ubisoft should’ve learnt a lesson from the first one. The point of view I embarked on Watch Dogs 2 with was one with very low expectations and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t a perfect game but I found it to be a huge improvement on the original and a saving grace for the franchise.
The story follows the exploits of Marcus Holloway, a new age ‘hacktivist’ and his gang of merry men and women. The banter between the characters feels a lot more fluid and realistic than any inter-character relations did in the first game and all in all makes it feel much more real, we all have those weird friends who will seem like one of the games main characters.
But by far, the best part of the game is the map. Blending together the hustle and bustle of San Francisco with the peaceful hills and country roads. It feels as alive as a Grand Theft Auto map and when it comes to world design praise (at least for creating realistic worlds) doesn’t get much higher.
It isn’t all plain sailing though. One of my main annoyances of the first game still remains. The driving. It feels like I’m playing the original taxi driver whenever I get into a vehicle, which don’t get me wrong is a fun game, but when every other part of the game is made to feel as real as possible, it’s kind of a let down. The driving mechanic is kind of like getting married in a clown costume. It’s a laugh and a joke at first but when you look back at pictures during your divorce settlement in 10 years, you realise how much of a f*ckin’ idiot you actually looked and it’s no surprise that your wife is leaving you. Maybe I went a little off topic there. My point is, the driving system is awful.
Other parts of the gameplay aspects however are vastly improved from the original game. The amount of tech that you can use is much greater, introducing new pop-culturey items like drones to do your bidding was a great touch (side note, they’re much easier to fly in the game than in real life, don’t be deceived). As well as having more tech, it feels a lot easier to use than in the first game, with the controls feeling a lot more streamlined and user friendly.
To summarise, a massive improvement and many lessons learnt on Ubisoft’s part. But I’m afraid it falls short of top of it’s class.
Reviewed on Playstation 4 by Danny Pursglove