Watch Dogs 2 PS4 Review

January 29, 2017 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Ubisoft  Developer: Ubisoft Montreal  Genre: Action, Stealth  Players: 1-2  

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

Having not played the original game, it is difficult for me to draw comparisons, though based on what I have read about Watch Dogs 2’s predecessor, the sequel has improved greatly in certain areas, especially when it comes to the main protagonist. Veering away from being overly dark and broody, the overall tone of Watch Dogs 2 is much more jovial, introducing fun characters, a bright and colourful environment, and new stealth tactics that allow you to have a lot of reckless fun and cause as much chaos as you would like. This lighthearted approach to the sequel is very welcome, as having an open world game where you aren’t allowed to have the freedom to do what you want and mess around with the mechanics at your disposal could lead to a rather tedious experience, though thankfully that was far from the case here.

At one point you get to play as all of the main members of Dedsec. It’s a shame that you can’t choose who to play as throughout.

Taking place in a fictionalised San Francisco, you take control of Marcus Holloway, a young computer whizz kid who becomes a member of Dedsec, a group of hackers that are determined to take down shady tech company Blume and their new ctOS 2.0 system that is allowing them too much control over peoples lives. Dedsec do this by infiltrating various high-profile companies and the homes of Blume’s many employees, with the purpose of gathering evidence against Blume and its associates suspicious business dealings.

The main purpose for Dedsec to undertake these missions is to gain a huge following, people who will download their app to support their cause and help in the fight for their rights to privacy. There are a multitude of missions for you to undertake, from the main missions to the side missions to optional challenges. Every mission they succeed in grants them more followers, earning peoples trust and opening their eyes to Blume and its shady goings-on.

The missions on offer are very varied and whilst the overall gameplay shares the same template, the missions themselves never feel repetitive, and with so much to do, it does allow for you to shake up how you play. You could do a side mission, in which you hack into a persons home and mess around with them, you could then undertake a main mission in which you have to replace propaganda posters with your own Dedsec graffiti, and then you could take up a driving challenge, escorting a person from one place to another. There’s also cart racing, scout opportunities, and online missions in which you can hack another persons profile, or become a bounty hunter, bringing down players who are causing too much havoc in their own game. There’s certainly plenty to see and do and the variation should keep you hooked for hours at a time.

As well as buying weapons, you can also buy new clothes and pawn items you find for extra dosh. You can also buy cars from the local dealerships.

The gameplay allows you to approach a mission either stealthily, or guns blazing, using your computer know-how to your advantage. Marcus can unlock secured doors, blow up various electrical boxes, switch from camera to camera to get a better viewpoint, turn off said cameras or motion sensors, and he can also make use of his Quadcopter and RC Jumper, the Quadcopter allowing for an aerial view of the mission space and the RC Jumper sneaking in through vents and reaching areas that Marcus might not be able to. His abilities are also not restricted to missions only, and he can use his array of skills out in the open world, remote controlling cars, switching traffic lights, causing water pipes to burst underground and hacking and making use of the many swinging stages and cranes. His abilities are certainly fun to play around with, especially the new APB: Wanted Criminal and Gang Attack giving you the most enjoyment as you experiment on using them in various ways, causing complete chaos.

Whilst the guns blazing approach to gameplay is straight forward, if you choose to be more stealthy, then you’ll find yourself facing a bit more of a challenge. Enemy AI here is of the type that seems to automatically know where you are, with characters having a certain pattern to their movements, only for it to suddenly change if you are near them. Whilst this does add an element of unpredictability, it does become annoying that the AI seems psychic and knows where you are, coming close to your vicinity when moments ago they were moving in a completely different pattern, and then suddenly spotting you. I also disliked the fact that Marcus automatically crouches; he will crouch as soon as he reaches the mission area, though if he has been in combat or has been running around, he won’t always crouch again to move around undetected. Moving from cover to cover is your best bet in this case, though it is frustrating that you can’t choose when he crouches.

To make the world seem alive and thriving, Watch Dogs 2 has some nice little touches. You can pet dogs, watch them play around with each other or chase after birds. People will get into arguments, or you’ll find them throwing up somewhere. Marcus can even tease people with the new emotes wheel.

During some missions you’ll also be required to set up an ambush on unsuspecting enemies, though only someone like Kevin McCallister would do any good here. The planning of where to place certain weapons to kill enemies in order to retrieve an item never really worked out properly for me, and I ended up going in guns blazing anyway, and still achieved the same goal. At some points you’ll also be required to do some puzzle solving, whereby you have to complete a circuit in order to unlock a certain door or area. The difficulty of the puzzles range from ridiculously hard to relatively easy, and in some instances you’ll even find yourself questioning why an easy puzzle was chosen for a later, and more important, mission, and more difficult puzzles are used when trying to pick up an unnecessary item. There are also the usual missions, such as ‘collect X amount of parts in order to complete this mission’, or ‘destroy X amount of something to complete mission’, so you’ll find some familiar objectives here too, ones that players might be tired of seeing in open world games by now and who probably think that these types of missions in a game about high-end technology seems rather redundant.

Another issue that kept creeping up on me is the fact that Dedsec are supposed to be the good guys, yet thanks to games such as GTA, you can attack and hack innocent bystanders. This only comes across as very at odds with Dedsec’s objectives, them trying to save peoples rights to privacy whilst also taking advantage of it when hacking into bank accounts and stealing funds. Whilst an open world needs people to make it feel alive and thriving, this peculiar choice of game design could have been worked around to prevent Dedsec feeling rather contradictory in their morals.

As mentioned the characters in the game are certainly a welcome change from the brooding Aiden Pearce, though if you were expecting any character development or depth, then you’ll be disappointed. Even Marcus lacks depth and comes across as rather stereotypical, though is still a fun character overall. The main antagonist in the game is also rather forgettable – I actually didn’t even know their name until I was halfway through playing! The main enemy though is the entirety of the Blume company, so it can be forgiven that the Head of the company isn’t particularly memorable. Story-wise, there’s some drama to add tension though the only interesting character here is Wrench, one of the other hackers you work with.

Cause too much trouble and the police come after you. Using the APB whilst having a ton of police around makes for a very fun game. During one mission I used only the APB to clear out an area, with gang members and police battling it out with each other, causing explosions galore. To say Watch Dogs 2 isn’t fun is an understatement.

Upgrades are available, with some needing to be picked up in the actual world to make any actual use of. Once you have picked it up, you then have to unlock it, though you don’t need all of the upgrades to complete the entire game. As mentioned, you also get to use guns, and there’s plenty available. Instead of picking up physical guns in the world, instead you create your weapons using a 3D printer. Of course, with there being a currency in the game, you need to buy these first before you create them, though the biggest question for me is why Marcus needs money to buy and create weapons using his own teams 3D printing machine…

Graphically the game is very crisp, with bright colours reflecting the overall tone of the game, though the music here leaves little to be desired. You have your choice of music when driving around, from R&B to Classical to Pop music. Considering the game places a lot of emphasis on stealth, however, the choice to use loud, ear-splitting music in some later missions is questionable – how on earth are you supposed to hear approaching enemies when the background music is blaring out? It can’t even be switched off and the fast pace of the music contrasts confusingly with the slow pace of the missions, and the music quickly becomes repetitive. Of course, this is to up the tension for the finale, though it doesn’t gel well together at all.

Despite some irksome choices, I still had a ton of fun with Watch Dogs 2 and it managed to keep me gripped for hours. It improves on the original game, taking itself a lot less seriously, so if you’re looking for some unrestricted open-world fun, then Watch Dogs 2 could just be the game for you.