Why Watch Dogs 2 Is One Of The Greatest Ubisoft Video Game Ever Made
For years, Ubisoft has struggled with maintaining their dedicated audience. Sure, they released the mind-blowing Assassin’s Creed trilogy, but the succeeding AC installations were all hit-or-miss, with far more mixed reviews than the company anticipated.
What Ubisoft managed to accomplish with Watch_Dogs 2 was far beyond the realm of any foreseen possibilities, though.
In layman’s terms, Ubisoft failed at bringing any sort of digital life to their version of Chicago with the original Watch_Dogs, but their recreation of Southern California is vibrant, thriving, and captures every little essence of the real area.
We were excited 13 years ago when Rockstar shared San Fierro, but I don’t think any of us expected to be as blown away as we were with the cultural accuracy of The Castro or the well-dressed populace of the Financial District. There’s more to the beauty of Ubisoft’s San Francisco than just aesthetics, however. There is an unmatched depth to the citizens of Southern California.
I once watched an SFPD officer approach a homeless man sitting in a park on a phone. The officer accused the man of loitering, and kicked him out. The homeless man complied, but angrily responded that he was sending out job applications. The officer got awkwardly quiet, saying “Oh… well… good luck.” I could hear so much guilt in the officer’s voice, contrasting with the tone of conviction and authority he had held moments prior.
Ubisoft put far more thought and effort into their Southern California recreation than anyone expected. Even the voice acting and scripting of 5-line NPCs is more in-depth and believable than some AAA leads.
The name Aiden Pearce is not attached to a particularly memorable character. Some may think “The Vigilante,” some may think “The Fox,” but most will think “the boring antihero that video games want to forget.”
The Watch_Dogs 2 cast, however, shows that Ubisoft can completely reimagine possibilities. Marcus Holloway is a young, angsty hacker with admirable ideals and not-so-admirable methods. The achievement with Marcus’s character is that while other developers have created black men who happen to be protagonists, Ubisoft created a protagonist who happens to be black. Through his interactions with other characters, Marcus’s race manages to remain relevant to the story without ever feeling forced or counterproductive – something few titles have accomplished.
On the sidelines are Wrench, a sensitive kid whose reason for wearing his animated mask is sentimental and empathy-inducing; Josh, a vulnerable teddy bear with Asperger’s who struggles socially to relate to his teammates but is ultimately the most likeable of the entire cast; and Miranda, a middle-aged councilwoman revealed to be transgender, whose attitude defines her as confident, stalwart and powerful.
Ubisoft gave remarkable power both literally and figuratively to generally abnormal characters by completely removing the stigmas behind them. Conveniently, because the game is set in California, it is far easier to erase the stigmas of things like mental health and gender identity due to the game being set in such a socially progressive region.
If there is one thing Ubisoft is known for, it’s inconsistency. To go from Ezio Auditore to Connor or from The Division to Rainbow Six, they have genuinely struggled with their ability to be reliable when it comes to releasing enjoyable games.
At the same time, however, Ubisoft has never particularly shied away from responsibility. In typical corporate fashion, they often make excuses, but ultimately they take the blame for their own faults (like that time they said that seeing the reviews of Assassin’s Creed Unity felt like a kid being called ugly and fat).
Around the time that Watch_Dogs 2 was released, Ubisoft started to get the responses they must have anticipated – the fear and expectations of another letdown. Yves Guillemot, Ubi’s CEO, acknowledged that the company raised expectations far too high with the original game. Admitting that the developer got overwhelmed by how difficult the project actually was, they had to downgrade – which ultimately led to the massive disappointment and trust issues that, several years later, still remain.
Guillemot comforted gamers that the developer had “learned from the mistakes” they made with the original, and changed their policies to ensure that they would not lead consumers on again. As a result, the reveal and subsequent trailers for Watch_Dogs 2 looked reasonable. The graphics seemed on-par with what was to be expected at this point in current-gen game development.
Features, physics, and general gameplay presented everything that seemed possible and nothing more. And the best part was that when the game finally came to fruition, everything that Ubisoft promised would be there, was.
None of this is to say that Watch_Dogs 2 is the greatest game to be released, because it isn’t. But what it all boils down to is the fact that Ubisoft succeeded at creating an honest, genuine game that included everything they said it would.
Source – Whatculture
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