Another open world game. That’s what I thought to myself when I first launched Watch Dogs 2. The first game left a sour taste in my gaming mouth, and had the prologue of this one not been as impressive as it is, I probably would have shut down my console and shelved the game. But, it proved to be an awesome experience, and just like that, I was sucked into the hacking world of Watch Dogs.

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The story in Watch Dogs 2 reminds me of my rebellious, younger days. Marcus Holloway, our cookie-cut Robin Hood of a protagonist, is young, angry, and his Dedsec mates have taken the responsibility of continuing the fight against ctOS and Blume systems. Haven’t played the first game? You didn’t really miss out, and anyway, these story details won’t matter in the grander scope.

I had so much fun walking in the streets of San Francisco, listening in on people’s phone calls, reading their conversations, transferring money from their bank accounts, hacking traffic light signals, and messing around with security cameras.

There is something to be said about a character’s true intentions with access to such power: How much good are you really doing if most of your time you spend obstructing and intimidating people?

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Unlike the dark undertone of the first game, I had a blast doing missions this time around. Between the side missions and the main storyline, there was quite a bit to sink my teeth into. Plus, the choice of locale, San Francisco, did the game a lot of service.

I found myself at many points distracted from the missions because Watch Dogs 2 makes it really easy and fun to mess with NPC folk minding their virtual day to day. Your abilities advance and improve the more you use them. From controlling more of the city’s facilities, to framing someone as a suspect as you wait for the police to arrest them, there are ample liberties to enjoy during your game time.

You have access to guns via a 3D printer that allows you to generate any manner of artillery, but the heart of the game is in its hacking. Though I would resemble a walking tank with guns sticking out from me, I found myself, nonetheless, lurking in corners, hacking into cameras, tagging targets, and calling the police to capture my targets one by one.

In that regards, Watch Dogs 2 allows you multiple approaches for each situation. Can’t access a certain location? No problem; you can use your jumper bot to get in and do the job for you. It all depends on you and your playstyle to complete missions, gaining you more and more followers ingame which boosts your reputation. Heck, you can even take selfies and send them to your followers to gain even more reputation.

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Alternatively, I know some people who just want to blast through guns-blazing, hacking skills be damned. With the organic sprinting that is borrowed from the Assassin’s Creed games, whether you are stealthy or not, you will be able to vacate the area you are in in record time. There are some puzzle elements scattered around, but they are basic and a mere distraction.

Most worrisome, however, is the enemy AI. If so much as an inch of my toe is exposed, a barrage of enemies will converge onto my location in a suspicious manner that forces me to label it “cheap.” Had the AI been consistent, I’d peg them as observant and dedicated, but there were times when enemies would not notice me in clear daylight. Such randomness hinders the experience especially, if like me, you like to premeditate your every move. Not knowing how the AI will react does not make a game more real, it makes it annoying.

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Watch Dogs 2, ultimately, flows beautifully. Accompanied with a solid soundtrack playlist, whether you are driving the Knight Rider-inspired spy car, a drag racer, or, heck, even a boat, there’s always a tune that will make you smile with joy (Turbo Lover, anyone?).

I have to admit, Ubisoft has pulled off a solid game with Watch Dogs 2. Whether you are orchestrating your next solo mission, spreading chaos with a friend, or even hacking into someone’s surround system, while draining their bank account, there’s a decent amount of fun to be had. I want this formula implemented in similar games, especially Ubisoft published ones.

Watch Dogs 2 reminds us of how fun games used to be, offering endless hours of fun and chaos, whether you want to unleash your skills at everyone around or carefully approach a situation, the choice is yours.

 

Watch Dogs 2 is published by Ubisoft. It is available on the PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One and PC. A review code was made available to us via Ubisoft.

Multiple solutions for each mission
Hacking is lots of fun
Great world design
Enemy AI is inconsistent
Guns could have been integrated better
Car controls can be a bit annoying
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