When gamers first saw the ‘Watch Dogs’ trailer that debuted at E3, a vast majority of them were excited. With next generation systems just debuting, console players had high hopes for the games of the future. ‘Watch Dogs’ was among the first of those games to come out. Players seemed eager to try out this new experience. The graphics looked flawless, they were crisp and detailed. The game looked more like a movie than it did a video game but gamers were still used to old generation graphics. Compared to games such as Splinter Cell Blacklist and Arkham City, the graphics of ‘Watch Dogs’ 1 looked breathtaking.
According to Ubisoft, it was going to be an innovative game that would tackle modern issues such as privacy in the digital age. The story would feature a complex character dealing with morally grey issues. It was said to be the game that would be the archetype of open world games for the next decade. May 27 was set to be an early Christmas in the heads of many gamers but like the little kid who got socks instead a new bike, they were disappointed.
The graphics that had looked so good in the E3 trailer had been downgraded. Now that looked just the same as any game from an old generation system. In fact, there were games such as “Red Dead Redempion”, which looked better than the orginal Watch Dogs.
Sadly, ‘Watch Dogs’ turned out to be a‘Grand Theft Auto’ clone with some basic computer science. It offered nothing new to the gaming world. It’s the complex character players were promised was arguably the flattest gaming protagonist in history. Though it was a decent game, it wasn’t what was promised. This led many gamers and reviewers with a great level of disdain for it.
To salvage the franchise, Ubisoft Montreal took the basic concept of the game and fleshed it out further. What they came up with is one of the best games of 2016. ‘Watch Dogs 2′ moves away from the vigilante narrative of the first game and revolves around a group of hacktivists(Dedsec) trying to expose Blume, a corporation which is exploiting private data for its own personal goals. Blume has a system called Ctos has become apart of the infrastructure in cities across the country. The system is being used by every entity in the city, ranging from law enforcement to private companies. It collects data on everything you do. Blume sells that data to other coropartion who use that to cheat people. Instead of fighting drug deals and criminal syndicates like you did in the first game, you spend your time in the game humiliating companies and millionaires who unfairly treat common people.
‘Watch Dogs 2’ improved in many of the areas which its predecessor failed in, one of which is the protagonist. Aiden Pearce, the protagonist of the original “Watch Dogs,” was one of the worst characters in gaming. His motivations were cliché and his actions often contradicted them. His voice resembled a garbage disposal filled with glass and bones and he was pretty boring. Marcus Holloway,however, is a huge improvement.
Holloway character is what makes this game so fun to play. Instead of Pearce’s moody and boring personality, we now have Holloway’s cheary and joking one. Marcus is someone who both supporting characters and gamers can rally behind. He one lines make gamers laugh. He warm, friendly, and inviting persoality makes those who play as him feel good about themselves
Holloway is a 24 year old African American hacker who works with hackvisit group, Dedsec and uses his skills to fight against a system which profiled him. His main goal is to uncover all the dark secret that Blume has and blow the whistle on them He was labeled a threat to society by the Ctos when he didn’t do anything. It decided that he was a bad person before he could, this inspires him to join Dedsec and fight against it.
There are many factors of Marcus which make him so interesting. Marcus is the type of guy you can go out and party with and have a deep conversation with the next day. He’s a lighthearted person who views the world through an optimistic lens. That optimism allows him to remain vigilant, even in the face of pure negativity. He is a person who was systematically targeted and wants to make sure that it never happens again. His passion combined with his jubilant nature makes him very ambitions in his goal to expose the system. He is the kind of person who inspires others to get out of bed in the morning.
The game is set in San Francisco. ‘Watch Dogs 2’ portrays it as a bright, vibrant, and complex city. San Francisco is depicted as any other city as it has a downtown and business areas surrounded by rich, middle class, and poor neighborhoods. This is what makes it so good, it doesn’t feel like a fake copy of a city. It feels like an actual place people would live in.
The highlight of the game, nonetheless, is the writing. ‘Watch Dogs 2’’ is a very cleverly written game. It will make you laugh as well as think about issues regarding privacy and generalization of people. The characters are fleshed out and illustrated in a manner which makes them likable and relatable. Though some of the dialogue is cringe worthy at times, for the most part it is witty and intelligent. The story is interesting and tackles a great deal of social issues.
The gameplay was also improved compared to ‘Watch Dogs’ as the amount of focus that the original game put on combat has been given to hacking. The hacking, though still very unrealistic, is much better in the sequel. Like the original, in ‘Watch Dogs 2’, you have hacked into the Ctos, which gives you control over aspects of the city’s infrastructure. In the first game, you pushed a button and you could control a camera or a traffic light. You could either hacked into someone’s text or bank account. It is no longer just the push of a button. Hacking has more options this time around. Instead of just being able to hack a phone, you can make it explode, make it ring for no reason, or take a small amount of their money. You can control vehicles through hacking and various other things. Melee take-downs are back and have not really changed. Parkour is back as well and is much more fluid and acrobatic this time, you can now string to Parkour movements.
Even though this is a good game, it has some weak points that features in the game do not fit the tone. There are a variety of guns in this game which Marcus can use even though and guns do not fit Marcus’s character at all.He does not enjoy hurting or killing people and it goes against his mission. Marcus wants people to pay attention as he exposes Blume, using guns and killing people wouldn’t make people listen him, it makes him less of hacktivist and more of a terrorist. It also doesn’t fit the tone of the story either, the main focus of the story is hackivistism and hacktivists do not use guns to get their message across. Thus, there is no reason that he should have guns. Granted the player can choose to kill or not, the choice does not fit the character. The inclusion of guns also feels lazy. The game itself is novel in the way which it uses its environment. Guns take away from that novelty and make it like every other game. Guns feel like they are taking up space for a better and more innovative mechanic.
One of the lowest points of the game was the main villain, Dusan Nemec. Nemec is a cliche, evil businessman who essentially just exists just to be humiliated by Marcus. He is evil just to be evil. He does not have a compelling motivation. He does not have much of a personality and only really shows up to move along the plot. He is not threatening at all. He is try to make himself seem like he’s tough but he’s not. He just sucks.
Overall this game gets a 4/5. It was excellent game that is definitely fun. It was better than most of the games of 2016. The positives do not outweigh the negatives so I cannot give it a 5. However, it’s still a game worth checking out
Written by: Jaylen Pearson
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.