Title: Watch Dogs 2
Where To Buy: PSN Store, Xbox Store, Steam, Local Retailer
Most people remember Watch Dogs as the game that failed to deliver on the hype that came with its continual showing. For me, I remember it as a game almost completely void of all personality. Aiden Pierce, the main character in the first game, felt as though he had all emotions sand-blasted off of him. Fortunately, the good people at Ubisoft remedied that problem.
Watch Dogs 2 is the second iteration in Ubisoft’s series about hackers and their war on government and corporate corruption. This time around the player explores the online and offline world of San Francisco as Marcus and his ragtag collection of associates in the city’s own Dedsec group.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ubisoft left the drab, grey streets of Chicago and the past, and instead chose to embrace the bright and colorful nature of ‘Frisco. Whether it’s walls plastered in graffiti, brightly colored houses downtown, or bright green grass in the numerous parks scattered around the map, Watch Dogs 2 brings the players to a city full of life. It’s clear the color was a primary focus for the game, and they definitely succeeded in making me feel like the world ahead of me was alive and breathing.
What was especially remarkable is the personality they brought to Marcus and the rest of Dedsec. Unlike Pierce, who felt like a middle-aged grumpy man devoid of life, Marcus is a young, athletic nerd of a character, capable of both parkouring his way across rooftops and freaking out over the latest action movie stars. His team members each add to this youthful voice with their unique characteristics. Sitara is in charge of the marketing of the Dedsec group, with her graffiti murals and colorful propaganda videos. Josh is a coding genius, albeit with a lack of social or communication skills. Horatio fills the role of operations manager and is actually the closest to your average, everyday citizen. Finally, Wrench, the complete opposite of Horatio, is a masked engineer with a taste for the destructive.
His team members each add to this youthful voice with their unique characteristics. Sitara is in charge of the marketing of the Dedsec group, with her graffiti murals and colorful propaganda videos. Josh is a coding genius, albeit with a lack of social or communication skills. Horatio fills the role of operations manager and is actually the closest to your average, everyday citizen. Finally, Wrench, the complete opposite of Horatio, is a masked engineer with a taste for the destructive. Together, this group brings a loud voice to the hacking community in San Francisco.
Together, this group brings a loud voice to the hacking community in San Francisco. Is it a voice that I consistently enjoyed throughout the game? No… In fact, at times it was annoyingly over the top. But at no point in time did I ever question whether or not Watch Dogs 2 had a personality. Also, while the story itself isn’t anything unexpected for a game about corporate irresponsibility, it surprisingly had some genuine moments where the characters shed their loud walls and actually showed real emotions and personalities. Even the main “villain”, Dusan Nemec, plays the perfect role of a Silicon Valley young CEO, complete with narcissism and sarcasm.
The gameplay is fairly easy to pick up, especially if players have played the previous entry in the series. The team definitely improved the level structure of missions from being repetitive and simplistic to actually having some decent challenges. The driving is nothing to write home about, which was an issue in the first game, but it’s much more functional and is capable of filling the gaps between fast traveling. Creatively, all mission, side quests, activities, and entertainment choices (including a pretty remarkable and eclectic soundtrack) are run through Marcus’ cell phone, making them feel connected to the overall context of the game.
The only change over the first game that didn’t seem to make much sense was that I could reasonably see someone as bitter and moody as Aiden Pierce using guns and grenades to kill those in front of him, while for Marcus’ story, it doesn’t make any sense. Marcus is framed at the beginning of the game as a potentially violent criminal, so having guns and explosives available to him didn’t exactly add to his credibility. In fact, without spoiling, only one mission made me feel like the people I was fighting actually deserved fatal violence. Every other occasion, I felt much more inclined to use my RC car, my drone, and my access to technology to navigate things stealthily.
Watch Dogs 2 surprised me. I went in expecting a slight improvement to the first game. What I got was a story that ended up making me care about the characters, one that gave me the keys to the city but continually pulled them away from me to keep me in check. While it has minor flaws throughout, its loud and vibrant personality doesn’t shy away from making itself known and reframing the franchise. No longer are the days of grumpy Aiden Pierce. Today is for Marcus and the Dedsec team.
- Gameplay: Interesting and increasingly complex
- Graphics: Colorful and beautiful, No Mocap is noticeable
- Sound: Excellent soundtrack and sound design
- Presentation: Interesting characters, fun and bright world, typical story