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Hack Doggy Style: Watch Dogs 2 Review

Hack Doggy Style: Watch Dogs 2 Review

Ubisoft sure has learned a thing or 17 from it’s past failures, and Watch Dogs 2 is a culmination of all that learning, without rectifying all of the mistakes. Right off the bat, the game sets the tone for a vibrant, pop culture, social media and internet trends-driven cyber society, and puts you in the shoes of a young, very millennial hacker, Marcus Holloway. And that in itself shows how much Ubisoft wants to get away from the baggage that the franchise has from the first game in the series.

Instead of a whiny-little-cunt of a protagonist, plodding through a drab city, we have a young fella, who just wants to gain social media followers, and bring about digital justice across the world. And the world in itself, set in San Francisco, is a colorful and rather accurate (and at times exaggerated) realization of the city, packed with details and vistas.

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The game takes very little time to get you playing and does a good job of letting you know how everything works. And there’s a lot here that works very well. You join a hacker group, Dedsec, who turn out to be a bunch of young adults with the latest internet trends and memes embedded deep in their DNA. The tone of the game is very ‘hackerman’, which should have gotten annoying really fast, but since the game never lets up on it, it eventually get endearing and almost adorable. Ubisoft leaned into this completely, and while it might be a hit or miss, depending on who you ask, I absolutely love it. There are missions where you are accessing yet unreleased movie trailers, leaking video game trailers, taking selfies at popular locations, etc. It all goes with the tone of the game, and while a lot of it feels over the top, it also feels grounded in some form of reality.

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The gameplay is the main standout here, with missions tailored to cater a more stealthy style of play. And the options of stealth are numerous. Finding a way into a restricted area/building and getting the data you were after using just the gadgets on hand is a delight, and feels adequately challenging. There are multiple instances where you won’t even need to enter the location the mission is set in. Handy drones and RC cars are your friends here.

However, if braining out puzzles are not your thing, you can always 3D print a shotgun and restructure the enemy’s face. While this drastically contrasts and contradicts the intentions of Marcus and his fellow Dedsec hackers, who are intent on taking down CTOS 2.0 (the operating system running the city and collecting data on every citizen), and the Blume corporation, a Facebook-like entity with obviously evil intent, it’s nonetheless fun.

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The gameplay could’ve been better in some ways though. The gunplay and character movement feels too weighty and slow at times, when compared to something like that of Metal Gear Solid V, but it’s serviceable. Hacking is a delight however, and many puzzles are presented in the environment, instead of being mini-games, which is a welcome change.

The story starts really strong, and has it’s moments throughout, and is one of the better Ubisoft stories in a good while, but it’s nothing exceptional. The side characters are really likable though, ranging from a pretty-faced PR lady who knows the best hashtags, to a excitable masked youngster who throws up emoticons on his face to express, well, emotions. It’s cheesy, and even cringe-worthy, but like I said, they just don’t let up, and I ended up really liking it.

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And since it is a Ubisoft game, you’ll always have a shit-ton of stuff to do in the open world. They range from enjoyable to outright grunt-work, and I’d recommend not spending too much time there. The game launched with a broken online component, which was fixed just last night. The seamless online component has other player hacking into your game trying to steal your data, and you have a set amount of time to hunt them down and take them out. It’s a fun and intense game of cat and mouse. Co-op missions are also available, and while it’s always fun to play with another person, it’d be better if you can arrange sessions with a friend, since the matchmaking has not been the most reliable so far.

The world in itself is a massive improvement from the previous game. Visually it looks way better, brighter, and feels like a fun playground. Draw distance has also been improved. However, I noticed a lot of aliasing issues which is a turn-off, specially given how good GTA V, a three year old game, looks in comparison. Hopefully the PC version will be fix these issues. The city is also not as densely packed, tough the NPCs engage in some rather hilarious and quirky conversations and activities to guarantee some stand out moments.

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The sound and music is excellent however, with the in-game music being exceptionally fantastic. There’s a wide array of electronic music which are a pleasure to listen to throughout the game.

All in all, Watch Dogs 2 is a great package, which delivers on a lot of what the previous game promised, and is one of the better open world games released this year. While Ubisoft still has a long way to go in perfecting this series and getting another Far Cry on their hands, Watch Dogs 2 does more than enough to warrant a buy and keep me excited to see what they do next.

For more news and reviews, keep checking back at Gaming Central.

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6 Comments

  1. How ’bout a little subject-verb agreement next time?

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of Darren Rodrigues

    Glad to see that they improved with Watch Dogs 2 because this franchise has a lot of potential. Ubisoft has a thing for stepping it up in the 2nd game of their franchises. One thing that I want to know and which isn’t mentioned in the review is the driving mechanics. The driving in the 1st game felt very clunky and extremely arcade-y and not being able to shoot while driving was a huge pain. Being an open world game, I feel transportation is a big part of a game that can either add to the immersion or break it. So did they update the driving mechanics in any way or is it still the same?

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TotalDimwitTheCynicalTwit

      Hey Darren,

      The driving is not too much of an improvement. It’e better than the first, but still a bit clunky. a good thing however is that you can fast travel at any point, without having to unlock anything, so driving can be avoided significantly. The races you take part in are still fun though.

      Reply
      • Profile photo of Darren Rodrigues

        That’s a bit of a let down because one of my favourite things to do in open world games is to just drive around and explore the world. However, I can’t wait to play the game myself to see how it is actually like. Thanks for the insight 🙂

        Reply

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