Ubisoft has added another game to its repertoire with this tech-based action hacker adventure, Watch Dogs 2. It’s a follow-up to Watch Dogs, which I didn’t play. I don’t get into these type of games mainly because I’m in the tech field. The suspension of disbelief is usually so large it’s unbearable. I’m not sure I would have even played this game had I not gotten a chance to see my brother play it on PS4. Watching it drew me in with stealth game play and remote control drones.
The game spoofs Silicon Vally and uses the BIG Brother theme very well. The parodies and satire of the companies cracked me up but the carry a sobering message. You play a not so innocent hacker that has been targeted by huge multinational company ala Microsoft. The game starts out with you breaking an entering to hack yourself out of their database of bad actors. The missions are really fun and there are lots of cool toys and traps you can set for your AI enemies. XP is replaced by a combination of upgrade points and followers. The more followers you get the more you can get your message out and expose the companies trying to soil your good hacker name and control the world with misinformation.
You collect upgrade points and can choose from several skill trees to emphasize the skills that are most important to you. It gives you some control of your development so you can go back and replay missions with different skill sets. The skill points are hidden all over the map along with the $$$ you need to buy gadgets. Obtaining these points and cash can be THE GAME if you choose. It’s nice to be able to try different approaches.
You can hack cameras to get a safe view of enemies and plot out how you can best stealth around the map to avoid getting smoked. At first, it seems very complex but I kept falling into that same approach with every mission so I grew tired of it quickly.
The story line overall is pretty bad. The cut scenes are hard to watch at times. It’s kind of like watching an 80s movie (ala Hackers 1995) with more modern themes. Luckily the gameplay and open world makes up for it. It wasn’t so bad as to make it unplayable, it’s just, the scripts could have been better written. It suffers from a good guy/ bad guy identity crisis.
The companies are not your only enemy. There are missions that target other hackers that intend to do harm. So far the theme has been, you are a good guy trying to stop the bad guys but I’m still pretty early in the game. The map reminds me of GTA V but the controls are not nearly as good. The cars are very touchy and like GTA, some of the movements are kinda of a pain in the ass. FPS players may not like the controls. I certainly struggled with them some.
If you get bored with AI, just enable multiplayer and online players are weaved into the story line. They are trying to hack you or will come up on the screen and it’s your job to hack them. It’s a really interesting approach to MP. You pair up with a buddy in the open sandbox world. You can just wonder around looking for enemy compounds or play alone with exciting PVP as a bounty hunter. I pretty much got owned by every MP mission I ran but in time I think I could do better.
I like Watch Dogs 2, though perhaps not quite as much as it wanted me to like it. It compensates for its semi-bad storyline and weird game mechanics with some interesting ideas and a near-endless supply of activities. It’s a very cool recreation of San Francisco and made me want to go hang out there.