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.
For all the hype of this PS4 exclusive title it offers little new. The cover system including the stealth mechanics are far from the best out there. There are also few opportunities to choose what strategy to take. The game either makes you use stealth or shoot your way through. It's too linear. The story and characters never grabbed me minus the interesting opening. The voice acting is top but I can't say any of the music was memorable. The cut-scenes can also not be skipped. While they are not extremely long like an MGS game, and it may not be too bad on the first play, it definitely is a negative when it comes to replay value. The most annoying aspect of the game is the inability to run at times and the slow pace the character walks at. Some nice detailed graphics, interesting weapons and maybe there is something to build on here, but even the steampunk-ish like 19th century world doesn't seem as creative as it could be.
It's rare for a film to be made into a game and for it to be great, or even good. And this doesn't stop the trend. Here we have a mission-based 'open world' driving game ala Driver but it falls short in many areas. First to what it does well though. The driving is fairly fast and handling the minis and other vehicles with their arcade like handling can be satisfying. There are various modes including mission, stunt, race, time trial and free roam. That's about it though.
The mission mode consists of driving to a red dot on a radar screen (Was this in the film?). That's right, there is no actual map. This makes it frustrating to know how to get there and just means retry after retry. This is the only reason the game is challenging. The missions also get you driving across the same location too often. The recreated LA isn't big or varied enough, the other motorists on the road drive like maniacs and the story itself is shallow.
The other modes: Race mode doesn't offer difficulty levels and is far too easy. The fact the environment isn't very exciting or big and that you can't switch cars makes free roam mode less appealing than what it could be.
I'd say this was a quickly thrown together game to tie-in with the film and while it's fun for a little while there are many better choices in this genre.
This is definitely a different sounding album than I expected after hearing Aceyalone's debut before this. The genres on offer here are really doo-wop (which is an influence of funk/soul/blues/R&B) with hip hop. Most of it works though and you end up with something fairly original. The album is under thirty minutes in playing time which makes it is a really easy listen and I enjoy almost every track but I don't think I love enough of it. A good fun original album though and you have to like it for that.
Best Tracks: Can't Hold Back, What It Wuz, On the One, Workin Man's Blues, Power to the People.
An open-world online-only racer with kilometres and kilometres of recreated America to drive through. This is no doubt the game's strength, with a number of cities across America to visit including LA, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle to name a few. The gameplay itself goes well enough. It feels somewhat like Need for Speed: Most Wanted with police chases and modification of cars being features. While there is a lot of A-B driving to go to the location of the next mission before fast travel is available, on the road you'll find lots of challenges (speed, slalom, jumping, racing line accuracy) which makes the trips go faster. As with a number of online-dependent games I've played, I don't understand it here either. Why must I need to be online to race against AI? Actually, when beginning a mission and asking for a fellow human being to join me, I have often been unsuccessful. I have rarely been able to play a PVP race either. Another negative feature is the graphics. They are not bad by any means but they don't look like PS4 quality to me. (edit-major updates did improve this). In terms of the difficulty, it's not a game that is too difficult if your car/s are at the right level. The most challenging events for me were without a doubt the chase missions, where damaging the car in front can be frustrating (that damn prison bus)!!! Worth trying if you like open-world arcade racers.