The original Watch Dogs was a grimly serious conspiracy thriller starring a grim white guy in a trenchcoat as he grimly made his way through grim, grimy Chicago. It’s a fun game, but it’s not a cheerful one. Luckily, Watch Dogs 2 ditches that tone completely in favor of a cheerful, colorful trip to San Francisco with a bunch of multicultural merry pranksters, and it turns out a dose of wackiness is just what this nascent franchise needed.
Watch Dogs 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
It’s fairly impressive to drive your way through Watch Dogs 2‘s near-perfect scale replica of San Francisco. In fact the game takes pains to show it off, having players drive across the Golden Gate on your way to the secret hacker lair and its colorful young denizens. Graphically it’s about on par with what you’d expect from an AAA open-world game, with a solid sound mix and largely excellent voice acting.
Watch Dogs 2 more or less dumps any pretense of not being an off-year Grand Theft Auto, and it’s all here: The first thing you do is buy clothes, and yes, there’s plenty of stuff for you to buy. The original game’s hacking mechanic makes a return, with more depth and more thoughtful puzzles. They even riff on GTA‘s taxi missions with a parody of Uber in a string of side missions. And really, it’s kind of welcome, not least because while it’s not terribly original, it’s extremely well-executed.