Despite the hate by many gamers, I enjoyed Watch_Dogs (WD) (80/100 on Metacritic for its PS4 version btw) as I think it added some unique features to the open-world genre.
After finishing the first WD, I was looking forward to its sequel. It looks to build on what came before it and in many ways it does. The game runs better, it adds extra features such as apps, improved radio/playlist, extra hacking tools such as hacking vehicles, the world feels more diverse, the character (Marcus) is more agile, the world is more interactive and jumping into waterways during a pursuit isn't a sanctuary like it was in WD. In saying that though, it didn't grab me as much.
Obviously being a sequel things are not as unique as to what came before it, but also some of the things I enjoyed about WD was the story and the darker environment it created, and a more 'Batman' like, isolated protagonist, whereas this story doesn't have the emotive background of the first and it's set in sunny, bright, San Francisco. It's like the grim, dark peak DC films to Marvel. There is more humour in this that doesn't always come off either. I enjoyed some of the parodies of companies, like Google and Ubisoft featuring themselves in the game, but not all of the humour works, and there is a lot more in this than WD. Another thing I preferred about WD was the encouragement to do good and not harm innocents, that feature isn't in this.
Most of the main missions aren't dissimilar to WD. They involve the player driving to a location, and killing a certain person/people, finding an item/disabling an alarm, downloading data, etc, and then leaving the area by evading enemies or the police. The waterway issue aside, that I mentioned earlier, the police are probably less of a challenge here than they are in the first WD. The missions vary enough for the most part but do start to get repetitive towards the end of the game, and like with WD you generally have the choice of using stealth or brute force to accomplish the goal. Some of the missions do get you thinking and after trying a few times to complete them, you do at times notice something obvious, such as an alternate entrance or whatnot that would have made it much easier. Speaking of thinking, some missions involve solving a puzzle which is basically like 'direct the flow' from BioShock or the Pipe Mania games. These were in the first WD but here they are larger and viewed from the player's third-person perspective making them more frustrating. As I mentioned in another recent review, the lack of fast travel to the next mission is an annoyance. While the world isn't huge, there isn't anything to earn on the way and I don't see why this feature isn't found more frequently in open-world games. Luckily, there are often shops or other locations that do have fast travel nearby. Another minor bugbear is that sometimes you don't know you need certain equipment, such as the quadcopter to complete a mission until you have already spent time driving to the mission. Also, the feeling of immersion you want playing a video game is slightly ruined when you are made to use a piece of equipment for something your character could do. An example is having to use an RC to get through gaps that a person of Marcus' size could crawl through.
Aside from the main story, there is lots to do, including side missions, co-op and PVP modes, racing (e-kart, sailboat, drone, motocross) etc. There are interesting gadgets to use and the AI often aren't stupid making for many challenging moments. As I said, I enjoyed the theme of the first WD more, and that feeling of innovation you don't often get with a sequel but this is a more than decent open-world game.