Watch_dogs 2 and Final Fantasy 15

Some more games I've played recently

Watch_Dogs 2
The original watch_dogs felt decidedly half baked, set in chicago it followed psychopath "hacker" Aiden Pierce as he blasted his way through scores of people on a hacking revenge story. The main problem besides a the unlikable hero with it was no fun to play. It felt like the first Assassins Creed an extended tech demo that needed another six months to work out what to do with itself. Indeed one of the DLC's was actually a lot more fun than the main game becoming this weird buddy cop style story with two of the minor characters. The whole hacking part of it and themes of privacy and control were really not that important in the first game with the big brotherish CtOS and company running it Blume being a backdrop rather than a main story element.

In Watch_Dogs2 the location is now San Francisco with a small section of the bay area (It doesn't get as far down the bay as where I am San Jose but it includes bits like Palo Alto and Oakland as well as the Marin Headlands). Moving the location to silicon valley makes a lot of sense they can explore and poke fun at the various silicon valley entities. The main character rather than a vigilante on a revenge trip you play as Marcus a hacker who has been profiled by the CtOS 2.0 (a city wide operating system of surveillance that ties in all cameras, internet, phones, atm's, cars, traffic lights,tv, and basically any system you can imagine into this huge monitoring and control system) such that it has classified him as a high risk and so he's being treated as guilty of crimes he hasn't committed (indeed that no one has done yet). He hooks up with hacker group DedSec to fight the system.

Rather than a grim vigilante he's more a hacktivist prankster they hack into various places to find out why the various corporate entities tied into the CtOS system are abusing it to their own gain like insurance companies using your purchase history to increase premiums when you buy fast food.

It's a lot lighter themed and a lot more about the group of activists than just the lone protagonist. The game focuses on gaining followers by exposing corruption and misuse big and small the game world excuse is these people then load the dedsec app and donate processing power of their phones to the various hacker toys at your disposal. The game does have some great toys too, pretty soon you get the rc jumper a little remote control car that can jump and act as a control point and remote camera to access various systems. A lot of the missions can be completed using this device and never actually physically entering the building. It's fun to roll it around jumping onto things to access paths through the ventilation system or other hidden tracks it gives a lot of flexibility. Later you get the quadcopter which can't do any physical hacks but is great for getting a good overview or scanning a particular bit of hardware remotely. Eventually it gets an upgrade where you can use it to drop stun or kill bombs.

The movement has also gotten an upgrade, Aiden was pretty much unable to jump this time Marcus is a bit more active not assassins creed levels of motion but he can jump or climb on things. Combined with the RC toys you can come at targets from a multitude of angles. In the previous game you could use your wacking stick to non lethal takedowns but it didn't really have a non lethal path in the game even when you made the effort not to kill people the game often assumed you had killed them all in the next cut scene. With w_d2 you have a melee option where you wack them with a pool ball on a string which I guess is non lethal or a variety of stun guns including a stun grenade launcher which has friendly fire if you are not careful.

Combat is a little frustrating I went mostly non lethal but unlike a lot of stealth games you can't reposition bodies out of sight so taking people down if there are roving guards is usually counter productive. The game plays a lot with distracting the AI moving it away by making a conduit spark or some such. Going full lethal combat is tricky too enemies can call for backup and if you can't stop them you can get overwhelmed fast so the focus is often on isolating the ones able to call for backup taking them out if you can.

The hacker tools have been tweaked and changes some of them are really fun. You fairly quickly get the car override control which allows you to make a car accelerate forward reverse hard or turn hard left or right. It's a lot of fun to do this to cops either chasing you or just stopped at the lights having them suddenly turn left and drive into a wall is hilarious. When driving you can also make people move out of the way with this trick.

It's also a beautiful game the bay area rendered in glorious colours and with recognisable detail I've driven about and recognised places like lombard street or the castro theater or fisherman's wharf as well as alcatraz the coit tower the trans am building and the golden gate and the bay bridge. It's a truncated version of reality but fairly accurate in the broad strokes. One of the activities you can do is take selfies at various key land marks and famous locations. Another is you become a driver for a uber like service but usually you have to do some special thing like stunts or follow a robot or some such.

The game plays on the various bay area companies mostly they are not 100% copies they take parts and combine them so there is the search giant Nudle and the social media company Nvite the robotics company tidus and one that's a space company the name of which I forget. It pokes fun at the companies and their attitudes often exaggerated or mutated from their real world counterpart. The nudle busses that are everywhere driving their employees to work at the nudle campus where the buildings are covered with slides was nicely observed.

The missions are fun and multistep affairs with main ones focusing on blume or one of the big companies then a lot of smaller side missions that are more general. The story is much more focussed on blume and the CtOS 2.0 the possibilities of abuse that sort of system would have the way handing over all your data and having no control can be a very bad thing.

In general it's a much more fun game with plenty of activities to try and lots of improvements to the hacker themed gameplay. The story is more playful more themed around the group of hackers and their exploits it's greatly improved over the original in almost every aspect. I didn't try the online parts of it (I turned all the invasion and such mission modes off where someone can invade your game as it was annoying as fuck on the previous one).

Final Fantasy 15
Not played as much of this one yet as it only showed up the other day and I was busy with Watch_dogs2

It's a very pretty game where you spend a lot of time in a car driving along watching things go by.

The combat seems fun it's real time but it has a tendency to throw loads and loads of enemies at you at once and so far I don't seem to have any crowd control abilities so you get overwhelmed fast. You have these warp powers but they seem a bit fernicaty not always working not always doing what you want (you can teleport up high hanging out of combat to regenerate health and magic but half the time he just warps randomly rather than doing that). It also seems to throw you against enemies massively above your level I was doing a level 11 quest and I was maybe 15 so it should have been easy but the area it was in was full of level 27 enemies and one level 50 and swarms of level 16. So I would just get ground to paste before I could even get to the target.

Not sure if I'm just playing things wrong or if there is some trick I'm supposed to know.

Pretty graphics but like most of these games the story is impenetrable. Not sure if I'll stick at it.


The back story to Final Fantasy is in 2 places. There is a free 5-part anime on Youtube that gives the back-story to the 4 main characters, and then there is a full length feature film that covers the events immediately prior/parallel to the game starting (I picked it up on Google Play during the Black Friday sale for a couple of quid).

I think it's safe to say that FF games require a bit of time investment, and it's fairly traditional to get thrown against nuts fights (I remember the delights of random Great Malboro ambush in FFX). From reading reviews, it does also pay a lot of homage to previous games...

babychaos's picture

FF15 means that we're going to lose babyc for the winter. Someone had better warn Gill.

WD2 looks like the sort of game that I'd enjoy. I like the take on modern companies, (like Lifeinvader in GTA) and I'm glad to hear it's more interesting to play than WD. I nearly bought WD but a review (yours?) put me off. This looks more promising. Sadly, I'm parking most games for now as baby is impending.

brainwipe's picture

I suspect Gill has finished more games of FF than you!

babychaos's picture

I'm not sure if I've ever finished a FF game I've played a few and watched people play others. When I was at uni my room mate played FF7 and then later another housemate played FF8 over and over and over I think it was the only game he played.

I've played FF9 FFX one of the MMO's FF13 some of the portable ones but I find them a lot like the elder scrolls games where I get bored of them

Evilmatt's picture

LOL! She certainly has. Consider my neck wound in.

brainwipe's picture

Thought I'd re-visit this, as I finished the main story of Final Fantasy XV last night. This was my first game played on a console in a while (since Fable 3 on XBox 360), and I'm obviously coming at this from a Final Fantasy fan standpoint.

First up, the game is beautiful. I've been able to play it on a PS4 Pro on a 4K HDR TV (my table football has been replaced with a dedicated console gaming area, with a sofa, table and faux-wall mount TV). Previous Final Fantasy games have had large chunks of pre-rendered FMV for new FFXV you sometimes can't tell when they start, it's all very pretty.

It took me a while to get used to the combat...once I'd turned on Wait mode (which turns it into a slightly more tactical system, where you can target and focus attacks more easily) then it came's a big change to the previous turn-based combat. I got used to triggering my companions special moves, and also using my character correctly (rather than just wading into the middle, picking off enemies on the outside). I got my head round the Magic system (again a big change, spells are consumable items cooked up beforehand, and have an element of crafting as you combine elemental powers (Fire, Lightning and Ice) with a "catalyst", which can be literally anything you have picked up, which adds potency, special effects and extra charges. Generally, character development is reasonably level up with standard XP, and also with AP (Ascension Points), which unlock skills and other abilities.

With the system brielfy out of the way, I really enjoyed the game. There was virtually no point where you didn't know where your next step was, and the character progression meant that it was pretty rare you were behind the level-curve, meaning there was not much grind required. There are loads of side-quests to gain extra XP/AP and toys, and many of these are linked to recurring characters, providing substancial story arcs. I spent a couple of evenings polishing off a couple of the side-quest arcs prior to approaching the final section of the game, but was able to pick missions that were interesting to me, so at no point did I think I was levelling for the sake of levelling.

THe stars of the show/game, however, are the 4 main characters. They probably feel more "human" than any other games I've played. You spend a fair bit of time watching them interact as you drive, ride giant chickens, and there is a huge amount of incidental banter between them. They all serve a purpose in the game, and the the game moves from the initial "road trip" feel to the increasingly dark tone of the game. I've always thought that the Final Fantasy world is quite a tricky one to write stories into (to all intents and purposes it's Shadowrun...magic, swords and technology all in combination). It's traditional that key characters will die, and you're always wondering why you can't just use a Phoenix Down on them (Phoenix Down being the standard resurrection item in all FF games). With FFXV, I actually cared when the main characters died, or were otherwise incapacitated. I'd spent hours watching and listening to them taking the piss out of each other...

Special mention has to go to Prompto, who could have been a Jar Jar Binks of a character, but is actually excellent. He's the weakest fighter of the 3, coming froma non-military background, but acts as the documentor of the road trip. He takes photos throughout the game, and every night (you accumulate XP when you sleep, as well as heal and save) you run through and pick your favourites to go into an album. It's a superb game mechanic which adds a real sense of comraderie to the group, and it's very well utilised at the end of the game. The end credits are the photos you've selected running through, while a Florence and the Machine cover of "Stand By Me" plays. Possibly the best end to a game I've seen.

So yeah, really enjoyed it. If you read the reviews Chapter 13 is a PITA (think the Max Payne dream sequences, and you won't be far off), but not as bad as I feared...the game guides you through, rather than leaving you to get lost. I now have the end-game content to visit (I'm level 60 right now, and there is stuff that it recommends you be Level 90+ to tackle). I've moved through the main game fairly rapidly, not lingering too much on the additional content, and it's taken me about 55 hours of game play. The 2 evenings of side quests I went through moved me up 13 levels, so you can definitely progress quickly just by completing missions...

babychaos's picture

ride giant chickens

Now you have my interest! I'm glad that FF has an element of humour - some games sadly miss it.

Sorry for the FF newb questions that follow. Is it fairly open world? By the sounds of it you have choice on what to do and not to do. Are there more than one ending?

brainwipe's picture

FF games have a huge chunk of humour....this one in particular is a bit tongue-in-cheek, especially when (as Crown Prince of a country) you're given side-quests like picking up vegetables. Chocobos (giant chickens) are a recurring mode of transport. You can also race them, breed them etc. It's an entire section of the game I haven't even touched on. In FFVII there was a section where the main protagonist (Cloud) dressed up as a woman to access a lecherous town bosses house.

The first two-thirds of the game is open-world (opened up in sections as you progress through the story-chapters). There is no dynamic balancing of mobs, so if you wander into an area that is above you, you'll be chewed up and spat out in short order though. The final third is fairly linear as the story becomes more time-critical (this is part of the transfer from "road trip" to "save the world"), though there is a mechanism to return to the open-world section available most of the time (outside of core story sections). In this, it's the reverse of previous FF games, which tend to start linear, then go open-world about halfway through (normally linked to gaining access to an airship or other form of long-distance travel). The post-game returns you to the open world to finish off any side quests, and also there are a series of high-level challenges and dungeons to work through. That said, it's a different sort of Open World to what you're probably thinking (for example , you won't be driving cars off cliffs etc). There are not many "collectibles", but there is treasure to be found throughout the world. Nearly all the missions give you clear guidance on where to go, so you're never left wandering round trying to work out where you need to be to progress the story (something I can't stand about most open-world games...I far prefer a bit of guidance rather than a sandbox with no experience curation).

There is one ending...this is typical of all FF games. Square/Enix are never quite decided if they want to make games or films, and quite often the end result is a mix of the two. The final game sequence (which I did last night) took about an hour and a half, and I'd say a good 30-40 minutes of that was scripted (be it cut-scenes, or choreographed battle sequences, including the appearance of 3 different Gods having a bit of a barny).

Actually, that reminds me...I recorded the final battle, and I was going to have a play with the Sharing facilities on the PS4, see what you can do! Might be a video here soon...

babychaos's picture

That's exceptionally detailed, thank you! I look forward to the vid.

brainwipe's picture

Well that was fairly painless.

3 clips in here
1) Me hunting a blob, and overkilling it with frost magic, making the rest of the team very unhappy
2) Intro to Ifrit (Fire God), then attacks by Bahamut (Warrior God)
3) and Shiva (Ice God)

All this uses the in-game engine. As I said, it's all very pretty, and (even when you're not entirely in control) does a good job of making you feel like a bad-ass...

Need to get used to the shring stuff on the's very powerful actually, it does always-on recording, with a 15-minute buffer.

babychaos's picture

Did the ladies in white (ice goddess) forget to get dressed when they came to help?

brainwipe's picture

I've not played much more of FFXV I was playing without the wait thing so that might be why I was finding it hard to get to grips with it just seemed to mob you with huge numbers of enemies that you had no hope of dealing with. I might have to give it another go as I liked a lot of the other bits around it just found it's combat hard to deal with.

Evilmatt's picture

The best mob management I've found is the Spells/Elemancy, though they do have team-damage on, so need to be used with a little bit of discretion. I tend to throw one in at the start of a fight after having scanned/Libra the enemy, then picking the nastiest one I have for them (Magitek Troopers who drop from airships hate Lightning magic, and tend to land in a tight group, so are excellent for nuking!)

Otherwise, you want to keep out of the main mosh, and go for Blind Strikes, which tend to trigger link-strikes as well, which are very good at taking monsters down quickly. Wait mode does make this much easier, as you can take stock of the situation far more.

babychaos's picture

I'll have to try it out again as I was enjoying the rest of the game it just seemed the combat was very hard out in the world. In the constrained areas of story missions it seemed better balanced but trying to do some of the side quests they seemed to invariably take me into areas packed with massively high level enemies and groups of parity level enemies that just grind you into the dirt. It also seemed like the whole warp strike thing was pretty broken the tutorial detailed it's use but most of the time in real combat he just zips off in a random direction and completely depletes his magic rather than hanging by his sword from some convenient pylon or rock and regenerating.

Evilmatt's picture

The warping is OK, but probably isn't well explained in the tutorial.

If you use R1 to lock onto/target an enemy, you will warp-strike them if you press Triangle, but once you arrive you want to swap to Circle, or you will keep doing short-range warp attacks (uses MP) rather than normal ones. With Wait Mode on you can hold R1, and then use the right stick to cycle through targets, so you can pick one that is more vulnerable, or is facing away (for a Blind-Strike)....then use Libra (which is probably already running, as that is used by holding hold R1), and pick a suitable weapon to do most damage.

If there is a "Warp Point" shown on screen, don't press R1, and long-press Triangle to go and hang on it.

There are some big beasties out there (I think early on you're taken near a massive snake, which you need to avoid). You're also sent near a high-level dungeon to pick something up (I think it's a Regalia mission). You just need to exercise due caution, some stuff you'll simply need to leave well alone, and don't be afraid to leg it. Get used to scanning stuff with Libra at the start of fights, and if it's significantly above you, run!

Also, don't go out in the dark, you will get your arse handed to you. I didn't dare go out at night until about Level 40. I went for a night-time hunt at ~Level 20, and was mobbed by Level 40 Bombs and Level 50 Iron Giants, and had to rapidly leg it back to Hammerhead.

babychaos's picture