Video game sequels are always tricky. If you're looking to build a meaningful game franchise then you're second outing needs to make a statement and not just be a by the numbers upgrade of the original.
Ubisoft could so easily have taken the latter route and given us a new adventure with the original's protagonist, Aidan Pearse, which would have had flash graphics on the surface but deep down would have seen little progression. Thankfully they decided against that.
Goodbye Aidan Pearse, hello Marcus Holloway. Marcus is equal parts geeky and athletic, just as comfortable with parkour as he is discussing cheesy action flicks. He also knows how to handle a weapon when called upon. Watch Dogs 2 sees Marcus become part of the San Francisco hacker group known as DeadSec. Their aim is to infiltrate the servers of the largest tech corporations in the world and uncover the secrets hidden behind those password protected files.
A lot of the missions are clearly drawn from reality. The most notable of which being where you trick a Martin Shkreli-esque pharmaceutical bad boy into thinking he's buying the exclusive rights to new music from a fictional rapper. Needless to say DeadSec rips him off for millions and sends the money to a medical research company. There's also a mission involving an occult group known as New Dawn, a mysterious organisation that manipulates people and takes their money. No prizes for guessing what real world organisation they were based on.
Like its predecessor, Watch Dogs 2 encourages you to adopt a stealth approach to your missions, hacking into cameras and using drones to assess each situation before navigating your way past enemies without being seen.
However, if patience isn't your forte, then you can always just go in all guns blazing. Marcus is no slouch when it comes to hand to hand combat either, with several devastating melees at your disposal.
The one drawback for those that enjoy stealthy action is that when you do manage to quietly take out a security guard, there is no option to hide the body. Which means that when other security guards inevitably discover it, they're on high alert, making things even more difficult and necessary to just pull out a weapon.
The driving is also a big step up from the original to the point where it's almost (but not quite) on par with Grand Theft Auto V. This makes police pursuits and general maggoty acting in between game missions all the more enjoyable.
A concentrated version of San Francisco has been beautifully re-created and you can easily lose an hour or two taking in the more famous tourist spots that the city has to offer.
Watch Dogs 2 has attached enough bells and whistles to make it stand out as a major improvement on the original but where the game really excels is in its story and in particular the supporting characters that keep you invested in the outcome. You're almost always in constant contact with Sitara, Wrench and Josh while out on a mission and it makes for a lively experience. The latter two provide some of the more whacky and humorous moments in the game.
Overall, Watch Dogs 2 is a big step up from the original and Watch Dogs is now a franchise worth caring about. It may not be a match for heavyweights like the Grand Theft Auto series but if it continues to improve at the same rate in future installments then it will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.