Watch Dogs 2, a game which lets you hack into major corporations in a high-tech San Francisco setting. The main character was dull, his hacking skills were boring, missions were repetitive and driving a car, well that was just whack. Those were the main complaints aimed at Watch Dogs, 2014’s over-hyped open world cyber adventure that burnt many who, based on years of excellent trailers and built up expectations, expected a different game.
Watch Dogs fixes many errors by shifting action to the more colourful location of San Francisco, changing the main character to the street-smart cool of Marcus Holloway, and integrating his hacking skills seamlessly into gameplay.
That’s exactly what makes Watch Dogs 2 so much fun. Jam traffic lights and watch car carnage ensue. Evade police by blowing up a water pump to block the street. Zap guards to sleep by setting booby traps on power points. Build up your bank account by downloading dollars from the phones of pedestrians.
It’s all as easy as a push of a button – and it’s a trick that doesn’t get old in Watch Dogs 2.
You’ll need to hack your way into a server bank, evade guards, hack access codes and escape through a basement garage. It’s a tense and exhilarating start that the rest of the game doesn’t always measure up to, thanks to some cliched cyber challenges, a Hollywood movie script tie-in, some long fetch-and-steal stealth missions that go for an eternity.
Driving a car no longer makes you feel seasick, Marcus is a funny and engaging lead, and it makes the most of its setting with some on-point commentaries about today’s tech-obsessed society.
At one point, you’ll need to befriend a Martin Shkreli type in possession of a one-of-a-kind hip-hop album. There are failed software update jibes, Facebook riffs, and nifty one-liners. At one point, you’re warned: “You are less valuable than the data you produce.”
All that makes it consistently fun and engaging, like Grand Theft Auto armed with a smartphone. That’s exactly what Watch Dogs promised to be. It might be too late, but the sequel lives up to that promise.