Watch_Dogs 2 (Ubisoft) - Version tested: PS4 Pro

Let's get a couple of things straight from the outset. I liked the original Watch Dogs, I didn't have a problem with the way it looked or played and considering the old game as a launch title on the PS4, it's amazing just how far things have come and what talented teams are doing with the hardware now (whether pro or standard).

So here we are with Watch_Dogs 2, a game that throws away the original's muddy sepia-toned greys and muddy browns for an uber-colourful version of the Bay Area chock full of amazing things to see and do.

You play Marcus Holloway, one of those golden-hearted folk who are instantly likeable and cool, but seem to skip between both sides of the law with ease. As part of hacker collective Dedsec, Marcus is involved in a quest to uncover some of the dirty underhanded dealings going on in the 'smart' city around him.

The game breaks you in nicely with the usual standard tutorials letting you perform parkour-like acrobatics to shin up buildings for a bit of physical security breaking and of course showing you some early (and vitally important) combat skills - where would we be in games if there weren't lots of opportunities to duff folk over after all!

Concessions for the US market aside, Watch Dogs 2 is a very smart and funny open world game. It draws in and takes digs at tons of popular culture icons, tech companies and in fact the whole "San Fran" mindset to fantastic effect.

Meet the gang 'cos the dudes are here, the hackers to entertain you...(oh, one's a girl too!)
I usually view open world games with suspicion initially. Very few games measure up to the high standards set by Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series (and certainly the original Watch Dogs never quite managed enough variety in its missions, let alone charismatic characters that you genuinely got to know and like during the process of playing the game).

Watch Dogs 2 comes very close, in fact there are times where I prefer its gameplay over GTA Vs (aside from the vehicle handling which is still poo - Ubi should really have had a chat with the Drive San Fran team for that one).

When you do finally get to pull off some pretty nifty hacking, the game differs greatly from its predecessor too, doing away with the tiresome "Super Pipeline"-esque game dynamic in favour of a more environment-specific set of hacking puzzles that are mind-bendingly tricky in places, but never feel too punishing or awkward.

Aw, you're making a mess! 
The characters are cool, but not TOO cool. They have their own human flaws and frailties, and you'll enjoy the interplay between your protagonist and his hacker chums as well as the inventive cut scenes and hacker-elite craziness that kicks off when you succeed in a mission.

It's one of those games that makes you want to go right back to the start and have another run through the minute you polish off the final mission (which is thoughtfully and brilliantly constructed, not the usual shitty boss fight but definitely a struggle for survival where you'll find the going tough if you haven't been paying attention and levelling your character's abilities up).

There's some awesome use of drones and remotes in the game to aid your own physical abilities, the gunplay is...OK but most of the time I found Marcus' unarmed combat skills were far more effective, even in huge crowds of armour-clad baddies (gotta get me a pool ball on the end of a piece of elastic, it looks like an awesome weapon!)

One of the most impressive games of last year by far and one you should pick up as the prices drop through the floor. It's a good solid single player campaign, fun multiplayer, and utterly gorgeous to look at on the Pro. Get in there and get your hack on!

Hookability: So much "Just one more mission" appeal and that's even before you start digging into the side quests, races, drone challenges and lord knows what else that's packed into the dense and brilliantly designed faux Bay Area.

Lastability: A long single player campaign but short enough so you don't get completely bored. Loads of variety and completing the whole game with 100% will take you a long long time.

Playability: Aside from the slightly crap vehicle handling and fairly ineffective gun combat, the game plays like a dream. New hacking bits are fantastic, drone and remote control is awesome and Marcus can really move like a flipping leopard when he wants to.

Graphics: Top notch visuals, no tearing, crisp and clean on pro gear too.

Overall: A superb slice of action, one of the best open world games of recent times and a strong contender for nicking GTA's mighty crown. A zillion times better than the original Watch Dogs. More please Ubi!


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