Watch Dogs 2 Review (PS4)
You are now less valuable then the data you produce. Join Dedsec and tear down the Establishment!
We live in a world where everyone has gone digital and become so reliant on the convenience of being “connected” to each other through the means of a “palm-sized” device, that it is hard to ever imagine what life was like before technology took over. A perfect example of this happened while writing this review. My internet is down and my cellphone signal is so bad that I cannot turn it into a personal hotspot to get online. Someone! Help! Please tell me things will be okay.
This is Bulls***!
Watch Dogs 2 feels a lot more focused and a lot less bi-polar than the first rendition of the franchise, particularly when it comes to the characters and the motivation behind the plot. If you played the first Watch Dogs, you might agree with me when I say that Aiden Pearce was a reckless individual whose self-motivated-blind-vengeance made him quite a douche and unpalatable.
We all (well, most of us) found that to be a deal breaker, and the original Watch Dogs was either shelved to gather dust or traded for something else after completing the game. (If you managed to make it through that far…)
Things are very different in Watch Dogs 2, although it is “kind of” a “reboot” with a carry-over story. Ubisoft took what we liked in the first Watch Dogs, surgically removed the infected parts (pun intended) and honey-glazed it with something refreshing and familiar at the same time, leaning toward similarities within the game play style in this genre, which is seen in another wildly popular developer’ title. (Read that again really slowly, it will make a lot more indirect sense…). It’s just a lot less violently brutal and shameless, giving it a certain charm the alternative lacks.
In Watch Dogs 2, you play as Marcus Holloway, who is a highly skilled hacker, who after receiving an invite to join the Dedsec ranks, infiltrates Bloom as an initiation challenge. Once you are “Code-Deep” within ctOS2.0, Marcus finds out that he has been profiled and convicted of a crime he has not even thought of committing yet, but due to his activity pattern, the algorithms of ctOS2.0 have set his threat level at a criminally high level.
You successfully wipe your profile and officially join Team Dedsec, where your passion and corny sense of humor rub off on the others. Dedsec is an elite group of hacktivist individuals that live “off the grid” (outside ctOS2.0) and give off a very “Anonymous“ vibe in the cut-scenes or cinematic. Soon your vision for the “ideal world” inspires Dedsec, and a devotion to expose “The System” and prevent the public from becoming too dependent on ctOS2.0 ensues. Yes, you do go toe-to-toe with a main antagonist, the details of which, I do not wish to rob you of as you watch the plot unfold.
I have spent countless hours playing already, and have not run out of activities in the vast Open World of San Francisco.
The hacks that are available when you start the game are limited, making mission progression vital if you want to earn Research Points which unlock the upgrades required to become a more effective infiltrator.
Armed with your Phone and a Laptop, you can strategically gridlock traffic at will, hack vehicles and manipulate their movements, bounce between security camera’s to immobilize guards in your mission area and also detonate or cause a surge in electronic devices to stun your targets.
There is no “Moral Reward System” to reward or penalize you for your actions, meaning you are the ultimate overlord of your destiny. However, I found it difficult to “steal” money from hard working or motivated NPC’s like Life Coaches as opposed to individuals that had a legitimate criminal record or were generally scummy humans. Basically, you are your own Moral Reward System. (High five!) Character customization is limitless, as you can visit many different clothing stores to find your style to personalize Marcus. To reward yourself after retail therapy, you can even pop into a coffee shop for a cappuccino! Rounding up on customization, you can also re-skin certain printed weapons with funky and retro patterns.
Tricks of the Trade
Your HackSpace (HQ) gives you access to a 3D Printer where you can print out projectile weapons, an RC Jumper (Ground Drone) or QuadCopter (Air Drone). With these, Watch Dogs 2 presents you with three playstyle options. You can be an Aggressor (Combat Hacker), a Ghost (Stealth Hacker) or a Trickster (Remote Hacker). I have been playing a mixture of Stealth and Remote, using my Drones to access all the hard to reach areas, even though it does not reward me when being shot at by SMG’s. I just found it more fun and challenging to hack my way around confrontation and not barreling (pun intended) through a mission zone.
A nifty hack ability that comes in really handy, is being able to fabricate records and manipulate the ctOS2.0 database to set the San Francisco Police on your target as a distraction or even get rival gangs to take each other out, while you swoop in during the confusion and grab your objective!
Mission zones are Open World too, and mostly occur in outside areas that lead you to an objective in a hotel room, up a flight of stairs in a heavily guarded rehab centre or in the basement of a very modern church. You often face great Puzzle-Like challenges, like routing the flow of a network to unlock a terminal granting you access to critical systems. This gives you a break from being a movement strategist, allowing you to loosen up your tension and shifts your “Medulla” into a different gear.
You can track your Missions via your Dedsec App on your Phone, which consist of the Main Story Missions and a variety of Side Operations. After completing Missions you (Dedsec) gain followers, which opens up another really fun side to the game, where you engage with your followers through an app called Scout X, which is basically a challenge mode built on the Instagram principle. You can also interact by taking part in motocross or boat races, even facilitating your “Uber” driver credentials in a fun internal game, all meshing together aiding in you being able to fully explore the Open World.
Multiplayer and the Seamless Online System
There are some really great Multiplayer modes, however, since launch, the Seamless Online System for Watch Dogs 2 has been buggy and riddled with latency issues, which has lead Ubisoft taking it offline, with the promise of it coming online over this weekend.
As a result, I have not been able to experience the modes where random players pop up in your world, or where you and the San Francisco Police chase down another player in the world that has been a bit too much like Aiden in a mode called Bounty Hunter.
The part of Multiplayer that does currently work though, is Co-Op by directly inviting a friend from your PSN or XBox friend list who is also playing the game to join you, which I found to be tons of fun. I am expecting the Seamless Online System to be a big hit once the wrinkles have been ironed out and I will update this part of our review once I have had the opportunity to experienced a few hours of fun or frustration with an unimpeded Seamless Online Multiplayer System.
Watch Dogs 2 was released on 15 November 2016, and is available locally from BT Games for R899.00 on PS4 or if you prefer the Digital Version, you can get the Deluxe Edition for R1,199.00 or the Gold Edition for R1,348.99. The graphics are rich and the sound is responsive, especially when hacking into phone conversations. The music rocks (pun intended) and the humor is sharp. The plot has a few twists that will catch you off guard and at one point cause you to jump out of your seat screaming, “I knew it!”.
Watch Dogs 2 is rated 18 due to its mature nature, strong language and sexual themes, so please be vigilant if you are planning on buying this game for your children, or if you are planning on playing it while there are children around. I am having a lot of fun playing the game and cannot wait to get home so I can play some more. If you enjoyed the first Watch Dogs, you will really enjoy Watch Dogs 2. If you never played the first game, you can easily jump onboard here, as certain aspects from the first game are briefly mentioned to bring perspective.