When the original Watchdogs game was announced and released a few years ago, it piqued a lot of people’s interest. In an ever growing, ever expanding digital world, Ubisoft brought the subject of hacking to their new IP.
The game received mixed reviews and reactions and in some cases left quite a bad taste in the mouth. Personally, I thought it was a good start to a new IP, there were limitations and a lack of depth and character to it in places, but it had the foundation in which a series could be built on, and here we now have Watchdogs 2. The main question here is, did Ubisoft learn from the first game?
In some cases the answer to this is yes and no. The depth of the game in terms of what you can do and the options available are there. There are side missions available which you can get from a variety of situations, from reading emails and texts to listening into conversations over the phone.
What wasn’t learned from the first game – Well this is a yes and no answer for this, and it is to do with character introductions and development. The game for me for the first 2 hours or so seems really slow and drags along, there is little in the way of character introductions and set up and after the first mission you’re kind of thrown into the fold of everything and it’s kind of a 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye.
I found that there was very little if any background information on the characters, how did they become part of Dedsec etc. This is what was lacking from the first game, although this was introduced throughout the game, however you still didn’t get much in terms of Aiden’s background, only the tragedy that had occurred and led him to revenge… so to speak.
As I’m only around half way through the game, this may change later on, however for me this is a little bit too late in the game, it should have been introduced towards the start.
Graphically, the game is a looker. Vast distance rendering and the world is phenomenal to look at. Even with the changing weather conditions from a beautiful sunny day to lashing down with rain, the world looks simply brilliant, and the changes in weather are subtle enough that it starts with simple drips of water to what can be a full blown downpour. One thing I do love about the world is how alive and vibrant it is with so many people around just going about their daily business, as well as the random events that occur as you’re travelling around. Travelling around as well is one thing I have enjoyed doing, just to try and see as much of the city as I can.
I have come across one little issue with the world so far, and it has only happened once, but I am keeping an eye on it. The issue was that I was running away from the police, so my initial thought after 5 minutes of being chased was to head for water…. So that’s what I did… I drove my car off the edge of the bridge in true Thelma and Louise style… SPLASH! I hit the water, the escaping signal came up… SUCCESS!! NO! I suddenly found myself falling through the world… I could see all the buildings above me, car driving along, but I couldn’t move… I was stuck in the Watchdogs Twilight Zone…. However, I had escaped the police… or Security services… Not sure which it was… However… Partial Success!!
My issue now was that I couldn’t move and get out of this so called twilight zone…. I tried shouting at the people who were walking above me, but nothing… Stuck. My only answer then was restarting the game and praying I didn’t lose any progress, and be permanently stuck in the twilight zone. Luckily, I wasn’t stuck. I had respawned back on the banking and everything was cool. Ordeal over.
Speaking of the police and security services in the game, they are brutal. If you step into a restricted area, there is no warning telling you to get out, they just start shooting. I’ve been knocked into a restricted area on my way to a mission and I got brutally attacked. This for me needs to be patched, it is far too aggressive and in the real world I don’t think people would just start shooting without a warning first.
Mechanically the game feels smooth and even more so than the first game. You can string together a nice run and seamlessly glide and jump over objects as well as climb buildings. There are times when the flow gets randomly disrupted but I just put this down to me and my controlling of the character. I will keep an eye on this though as it does get annoying.
There is one point of the mechanisms that I am not particularly pleased with. This would be the car driving, which I have found to be particularly poor with most of the cars on offer. The bikes have been fine and find them more enjoyable to drive (when I’m not fast travelling).
Hacking within the game is a lot more complex than the first WatchDogs game, as in this game, you have to hold the left bumper button down before pressing an option that’s on screen, now when you have only a split second to make a decision, especially when driving along it can make for a momentous f**k up! As I have found out on numerous occasions where I would simply blow my self up on floor grates in the road because I pressed the wrong button in a panic. Just wandering around and hacking is fine as you have the time to make the decisions, but if you’re in a police chase and are going at high speed, it becomes a whole different ball game. However, I will say this that there are far more options available than in the first game, which provides for a much better experience.
The skills tree has returned for WatchDogs 2 and it is pretty much the same as the original game, just tweaked for the additions that have been included in this game. One addition which I have loved is the RC. That little guy has got me out of so many sticky situations by either distracting security or doing the hacking for me.
Overall the game feels like it has evolved with the times and technological advances of the world. The sophistication of hacking as well is shown throughout the game and the topic is well on point for me. There isn’t anything too extravagant that would you think… Really?… Each mission in the game is something that I would honestly expect to find or be achievable. Good work Ubisoft, I have had hours of fun and would count this as one of my if not my Single Player game of the year. It’s definitely up there!