Ubisoft addresses Watch Dogs shortcomings in sequel
The original Watch Dogs was released to a rather lukewarm response following an incredibly lengthy period of hype.
Criticised by gamers for following the well-trodden 'Ubisoft formula' for open-world titles and just being a bit crap in general, Watch Dogs went down as yet another swing-and-a-miss, condemned to be spoken of in the same breath as the disappointly large number of titles that haven't fulfilled their potential in the past few years of gaming.
Although posters touting Watch Dogs 2 seemed to adorn every second bus shelter in the country, it could still be considered an exercise in restraint from Ubisoft's marketing department when compared to the outrageous publicity they afforded to the first game.
My first reaction on seeing the slew of advertisement preceding the actual release was a good old dose of scepticism.
You can imagine, then, how pleasantly surprised I was when instead of being greeted by the dreaded Ubisoft 'tower-climb', the drab trenchcoats and the mind-numbingly repetitive gameplay, I was thrown into a vibrant recreation of the San Francisco Bay Area, complete with organically occuring side-missions, an intriguing storyline and a true open world that tugged at my curiosity instead of overwhelming me with familiarity.
Watch Dogs 2's vibrant exterior masks a troubled society in the throes of gang violence, political corruption and rampant hacking. The story revolves around our antihero Marcus who is, to an extent, part of the problem, although he is mostly on the side of 'good'.
With Marcus' hacking skills, you will spend a lot of time thwarting criminals and individuals of malicious intent by hitting them where it hurts - their digital identity. In a world where everyone has a facsimile of themselves stored online, airing out someone's dirty laundry in public or dismantling a criminal empire is childsplay to Marcus.
Watch Dogs 2 isn't all about hacking, however, and some rather sharp and pleasing shooter mechanics come as part of the parcel.
Watch Dogs 2 feels like an apology from Ubisoft for the shortcomings of the first title - one that will surely be warmly welcomed by fans.
While it isn't perfect (see the slightly lackluster story) it is a thoroughly enjoyable game full of replay value.
Watch Dogs 2
PS4 / Xbox One / PC