Saturday, December 22

Watch_Dogs 2 Review

Available on: PS4, Xbox, Windows PC
Price: Xbox and PS Store = £54.99, Steam = £44.99
I played on: PS4
Notes: You can get this game much cheaper online places like eBay, I got it for £20.

Watch_Dogs 2 is a GTA-style adventure that offers a far more impressive and enjoyable time than any GTA game released so far.

You play as Marcus Holloway, who was previously targeted by HDC predictive software and found guilty of a high-tech robbery he was never involved with due to him being a young black man with no job. This inspires Marcus to use his talent with code to become an activist and we start the game with him joining Hacktivist group DedSec. I love this story as taking down big digital companies who are selling personal data, spying on innocent people and posing very real threats feels great. The members of DedSec are also some of the most charming and enjoyable characters I can think of in gaming. I honestly felt a real connection to these characters.

The gameplay is very GTA with the San Francisco Bay area offering an open world filled with side missions, mini-games, and collectables. Driving in this game is about looking cool and being simple so there is very little weight to the cars with them going pretty much where you point them. While not realistic the driving is very fun and when combined with hacking makes for some very breathtaking chases and stunts.

Marcus is a hacker and using his trusty mobile phone he can drive cars remotely, pilot drones set traps and so much more. This adds a whole new level to everything from sneaking around restricted areas to high-speed car chases and I love it. Causing someone’s earpiece to blast a high pitched frequency preventing them from shooting at you as you parkour over to them and take them down feels amazing. While being chased by the police you can force their cars to turn into oncoming traffic or blow up steam pipes as they drive over them. All of these hacking powers help every situation feel like an action film - fluid, exciting and fun. I also love the little puzzles where you have to get a signal from a junction box to a control panel as they help break up the action and give you some time to rest.

One of the biggest reasons I love video games is that they can offer you the chance to really visit other worlds. This is something Watch_Dogs 2 shines at because the city of San Francisco is teaming with life. You can explore the world by taking selfies at landmarks with the ScoutX app or drive people around using the Uber-inspired Driver SF app just to name some of the activities. Honestly, this such an impressive world and I have loved every minute I have spent with it so far. This is as detailed and alive feeling as any Grand Theft Auto city but without the horrible bitterness and cynicism embedded in all GTA games. Watch_Dogs 2 instead celebrates modern culture, whole heartily embracing selfies, memes, technology, bloggers, video games and more. We also get a game that tries it’s hardest to include everyone with LGBT rainbow flags being common around the world, gay NPC’s openly talking about their partners, a trans female secondary character who feels well written, 2 black primary characters and honest respectful representations of mental health issues such as autism and severe anxiety. I suffer from severe anxiety myself and I found that I connected to Wrench who also suffers from this condition due to how realistic he felt to me. I also love that Marcus is Bisexual and no one ever treats him as part-time gay and instead as bi people deserve to be treated. Honestly, this game just made me so happy so often throughout its story with the amount of diversity included.

This game is not perfect with the graphics being a bit buggy here and there, Marcus will sometimes put his hands through walls or interact with invisible surfaces while free running. Some objects will break apart like Lego when destroyed such as streetlights and telephone poles which looks goofy. NPC’s will have the same conversation twice sometimes and other minor issues like this. I do want to stress that none of these issues ever became a problem for me and they are only nitpicking. I never had the frame-rate drop or the game crash and the performance was always rather impressive.

While a little rough around its edges Watch_Dogs 2 is a fantastic game I was not expecting to enjoy this much. I fell in love with all of the characters in a way I don’t think I really have since I played Gone Home. This is not to take away from the wonderful world you get to explore or the amazingly simple and fun gameplay. Honestly, this game is just great and you owe it to yourself to at least check it out!

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10.

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