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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (497)

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Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5
Hitman: Absolution 3.5/5
Alternativa 2.5/5
Stardew Valley 4/5
Undertale 4/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3/5
Fable Anniversary 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Satellite Reign 3/5
Watch Dogs 2 4/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3/5
Metro 2033 3.5/5
South Park: The Fractur... 4/5
Sundered 3.5/5
Mass Effect: Andromeda 3.5/5
Life is Strange: Before... 4/5
God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5

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Watch Dogs 2   PlayStation 4 

Big Brother 2.0 is Still Watching    4/5 stars

Confession time - as of this review, I have still not played the original Watch Dogs even though I've had it and it is part of my backlogs resolution for 2020 as I have now barely a month to go. The original was received well enough but, by all accounts, this sequel surpassed it in every way. Plus, because the story only tangentially references the first game, it's not necessary to play the first game before this one. And while Unbisoft has suffered some rough patches recently, it has remained relatively steadfast and as games like Far Cry 5, Watchdogs Legion and the two most recent Assassin's Creed games prove, they can change with the times. Watch Dogs 2 may not be perfect, but it holds its own as far as I'm concerned.

Looks and Stuff: For the generation it was released, the game looks very polished. Since it's based on a real-world location (San Francisco - and surrounding locales) there are a lot of real-world landmarks - and the game does a fine job of recreating not just the look but the feel of the area. But because this is a game, of course there are additions - as a lot of in-game companies, while based on real-world counterparts, are obviously made up. This includes Nudle for Google (complete with multi-color logo), !nvite (a mashup of Twitter/Facebook) and the space company Galilei (for SpaceX) - but it's fun to see the way they treat these fake companies and provides a fun, yet chilling, overview of how things work in the real work (data mining, user manipulation, military contracts, etc). Since this is an open-world game, you can do a lot of things, though this game gives you many more options than the original - including both a drone and remote control car to drive, the ability to hack pretty much everything (mobile phones, cars, street lights and more) and even the ability to pit gang members vs. rival gangs or call in the cops for help.

The game doesn't skimp on characters, either. The main characters are all very well-rounded with stories to tell, while the game also gives you a ton of NPC characters that live their own lives. I love it when a random NPS will just start smashing a car, yelling about cheating or when a male character will just up and slap down a female character, only to be chased by other NPCs and cops for their actions. Likewise, you can hack mobile devices and get a brief summery of said character (job, wealth, random tidbit) and it's fun to see just how off-the-wall things can get. Also kind of sad as when you hack the bums around town and see many are former teachers or tech entrepreneurs themselves, downsized or outclassed and now forced out on the streets. It's these little touches that truly make the game stand out from the crowd. As with any game with driving, there are plenty of radio station for every mood - the voice acting is top-notch. No major bugs to speak of - a few minor ones (vehicles getting stuck being the most common as I recall) but otherwise a smooth ride.

Story: Following the events of Watch Dogs (which took place in Chicago), the Central Operation System 2.0 (CTOS 2.0) has been improved over the original and is now situated in cities across the U.S., including San Francisco with the Blume Corporation (run by DuĊĦan Nemec) heading the projects. While positioned as a company meant to keep people safe, it is really a smokescreen for control - with data being the main currency. The main characters of the game, Marcus Holloway is essentially the victim of a crime he might commit - tagged by HDC predictive software as being a potential criminal. But this action has the unintended side effect of pushing Marcus towards exposing the tech companies and public figures of their own crimes - right into the hands of the hacktivist collective known as DedSec - whose ultimate goal is to expose Nemec and bring the Blume corporation down. This involves exposing the many flaws and downright dangerous action of the many companies and people under Blume's umbrella - as well as actual gang members and corrupt FBI agents. The stakes are high and it puts everyone in the group in danger - and it turns out the manipulation goes deeper than they could even think.

Gameplay: As with most open-world games, you are free to run or drive around as you please. While the game offers many main missions and side quests, sometimes it's just as fun to hack the phones of random people and steal their money or take control of vehicles and crash them into things. The game offers a lot of extras, from tourist attractions you can photograph to hidden hacker spots you can increase your skills (often requiring the deft use of your drone or robocar). In missions, the game pushes stealth over force, and I followed this push, rarely using firearms as only a last resort. However, the stealth areas can be frustrating, especially late in the game, with larger areas becoming a test of avoidance and luck. It always seems the AI is too quick to discover knocked out bodies or simply being caught by camera or other security measures, that alerts everyone to your plans. In any case, sometimes my perfectly laid plans ended in a bloodbath simply because I got tired of sneaking and decided killing every single guard was the only way to go. But the game offers a lot of variety to those willing to learn - those remote-controlled vehicles can be a lot of fun, while hacking cameras and such can give you more options to each mission. So while things do get a bit maddening late in the game, for the most part things balance out.

Replay: Because this is linear as such, there isn't a ton of replay value here, but if you just want to bop in and enjoy the open-world aspect, it will always be there.

Final Verdict: As open-world games go, Watch Dogs 2 has enough originality to stand on its own.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 3.5/5
Replay: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5



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