‘Watch Dogs 2’ Review

Set in a corrupt world, much like our own, we follow the young hacker Marcus. Marcus and his hacking group DedSec aim to expose the truth from the many large evil corporations in the San Francisco area. With the all-knowing smartphone in your hand, you have one of the biggest hacking tools in taking out those corporations right at your fingertips. With a new protagonist and setting, does Watch Dogs 2 surpass the original? Let’s find out!

The first Watch Dogs fell short of showcasing the hacking wonderland. Your hacking abilities were very limited and were more repetitive than engaging, and the hard driving mechanics made it feel like you were driving on an ice rink. These somewhat fatal flaws were addressed as hacking now leads the charge during gameplay, and vehicles are much easier to drive.

Characters/Tone:

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Marcus is a much more interesting protagonist than Aiden Pierce ever was from the first game, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own fair share of problems. Marcus is a being that embodies the fight for justice, but throughout the game, some of his actions are quite questionable. For instance, instead of teaching a girl about online predators, he scares the daylight out of her instead of handling it as an adult. Many of his actions all though admirable are still juvenile at times.

Watch Dogs 2 keeps more of a non-serious tone for much of the game, with the constant joking, and goofy missions like having to steal a movie prop car and drive it through town to make major headlines. In one mission, one of your companions wears an emoji style mask and walks around in a thong. Watch Dogs 2 regularly keeps its humorous vibe going throughout the game, even when tackling more serious missions.

The primary goal is to gain as many DedSec followers as possible as you expose the dark secrets of every evil corporation throughout San Francisco, and sometimes it seems to be more about being popular than hacking. You’re essentially a social justice warrior/prankster and it comes across as kind of goofy at times, but in my opinion, it works for this game.

 

Gameplay:

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Watch Dogs 2 gives you a plethora of ways to reek havoc in its open sandbox. You have the ability to control large scale items such as a crane or cause an enemy’s phone to ring or zap them to create a little disruption. Or you can be extremely precise with your hacks by setting off mines, grenades or setting up a trap for someone to walk into.

The game gives you a wide variety to perform some of the most insane hacks, from dropping cranes on your enemies or even making them a target for a gang attack. Watch Dogs 2 makes you feel like you’re insanely powerful, and that anything is possible.

Marcus’ repertoire is completed with some pretty sweet gadgets such as the remote RC car and the drone. My personal favorite of the two would have to be the RC car and the the ability to taunt your enemies by cussing them out with a British accent. The RC car is also equipped with an extendable arm, so you can pick up objects or hack junction boxes without directly interacting with it, and the drone can be used to scout out the area ahead to plan your route of attack. Some of the missions can be completed solely using both of these objects.

You have a plethora of side missions to play through as well, and just about every single one of them are a joy to play through. Just about every mission has a puzzle-like mini game that keeps every task challenging, and many of them require you to use the drone to reach some of the pipes to try and connect all of the pieces. You can also enjoy tagging billboards and some of the corporations you’re trying to shut down with some insane graffiti providing you with even more cool things to do.

 

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In WD 2 you have a choice to either go in stealthily or guns blazing during most of the missions. If you choose to go in all gung ho, you’ll definitely have the hardware to do so. At one your many hideouts ‘hackerspace’, where fellow DedSec members can be found, you can use a 3D printer to build an arsenal of weapons, such as sniper rifles, assault rifles, and shotguns. But the downside lies within the lack of customization with the guns aside from being able to switch out weapon skins.

For someone who is a gun fanatic, this can be disappointing especially since the wardrobe options this game has are insane. With over 400 or so different pieces of clothing to choose from, you have a huge variety to pick from to customize your Marcus.

Shooting your way through the various stages is the shorter form of the game, and although it’s fun, it’s not nearly as fun as hacking your way through everything and exploring various ways to gain the upper hand on your opponent.

 

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For the melee aspect of the game, Marcus carries a rope with a weighted ball tied to the end which he uses to whack the fire out of his foes or strangle them with the rope. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to kill the melee animations halfway through which makes you vulnerable to attacks, so melee is best saved for when an enemy is alone.

If you’re looking to go the non-lethal approach, Marcus has a nifty stun gun that’ll neutralize your foes effectively without killing them. The stun gun gives you yet another opportunity to be even more stealthy because as long as you hit your target, the gun gives off no sound. But be warned, guards will eventually wake up and start searching for you again. Using the stun gun only makes the game a little bit more challenging, but if you’re up for it, you’re in for a treat.

 

Multiplayer:

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As for multiplayer, you can once again play the mode of Hacking Invasion, which is like a fun hide-and-seek game mode in a way, where you can either attempt to hunt down the person who is trying to hack you or even be the guy trying to hack the other. The one downfall of this mode is that you can’t drop out of these matches once they start, leaving you with the only option of playing through the game. It’ll also not allow you to start any other mission until the match is over. However, you can turn off the function in your settings to several game modes so that you’re not always being attacked while playing through the game.

The co-op portion of this game is quite fun as well. You can play with a friend or solo through many different missions which usually involve infiltrating a compound of some kind. You and a buddy can either tear through the place, or one of you can sit back and scout out while the other sneaks in to complete the mission. Either way, it’s a blast to play.

 

Overall Thoughts:

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Comparing the first Watch Dogs setting of Chicago, and Watch Dogs 2 setting of San Francisco is a huge improvement. The city and its surrounding areas are full of personality, from the incredible street art to Silicon Valley’s incredible detail, made this world a thrill to explore. San Francisco is filled with all sorts of activities, such as many different styles of racing with karts, sailboats, motorbikes, and drones.

You have a plethora of side missions to play through as well, and just about every single one of them are a joy to play through. Just about every mission has a puzzle-like mini game that keeps every task challenging, and many of them require you to use the drone to reach some of the pipes to try and connect all of the pieces. You can also enjoy tagging billboards and some of the corporations you’re trying to shut down with some insane graffiti providing you with even more cool things to do.

Watch Dogs 2 corrects many of the issues from the first game, by making hacking your number one tool which is something that wasn’t major focal point in the first outing. As for the narrative of the game, you’re given a lovable and wacky cast, and many exciting missions to play through. The unique hacking mechanics can make everything you do, like operating a satellite from outer space make you feel like a legit force to be reckoned with.

Overall I rate Watch Dogs 2 a 9 out of 10. The incredible mechanics, the lovable cast, frequently hilarious dialogue, and thrilling missions, Watch Dogs 2 brought more than enough enjoyment for me.

Did you pick up Watch Dogs 2? What did you think? Let us know on Twitter @ComicDrops.

 

Rating: 9/10